Petition to Zuma to ban the lion bone trade surges to 1 million after court ruling.
Adverts calling on President Zuma to end the trade in lion bones will tomorrow (Friday) be put back up in OR Tambo airport after the global campaign group Avaaz successfully sued airports authority ACSA for unconstitutionally pulling them down.
The ads, which feature a lioness staring down the barrel of a gun with President Zuma looking on, were censored last year by airport officials after hanging in the airport for a mere nine days.
Emma Ruby-Sachs, Avaaz campaign director, said: "Instead of trying to silence free speech, President Zuma and Minister Molewa should be trying to save the lions -- a national treasure that are being destroyed to make fake sex potions."
The adverts - which were being seen by tens of thousands flying into the city - had been pre-approved by ad firm Primedia on behalf of the Airports Company of South Africa. But days after being hung last September, ACSA ordered the ads immediately ripped down. A secret email later revealed that the ads were censored because ACSA feared the image would cause a "public relations nightmare" for the Zuma government. Last month, the High Court in South Gauteng ruled that ACSA violated the constitution by pulling them down and ordered them put back up.
The global campaign group Avaaz placed the advertisements in OR Tambo last year after more than 750,000 citizens around the world, including thousands of South Africans, signed a petition calling on President Jacob Zuma to ban the trade in lion bones.
South Africa's lion population is dwindling. The failure to manage the legal private 'canned hunting' safari lodges across the country where tourists can shoot what they want for a price, has led to a nasty export trade springing up, driving up demand that leads to poaching of wild lions. On the markets of Ho Chi Minh City and Beijing, lion bone wine fetches over R250,000 a case as east Asian demand locks onto lion bone wine as the alternative to tiger bone wine as their bogus cure. South Africa is the largest exporter of lion bones in the world and the latest government figures show a 250% increase in these exports between 2009 and 2010.
President Zuma has the power right now to institute a ban. Experts say that prohibitive sentences for commercial poachers and enhanced monitoring of airports and harbours to reduce the flow of these products would go a long way towards stemming the proliferation in illegal poaching. Avaaz plans to continue to press President Zuma and Minister Molewa to implement effective laws to curb the trade and protect South Africa's lions. Since the court ruling, the Avaaz petition has topped 1 million.