November 13, 2022


A Cry Bone-Deep

Lions once roamed large parts of Africa and Southwest Asia. Today they are found only in scattered regions in the grass and scrublands of Africa. Their populations are declining, partly due to the high demand for lion bone and teeth to be used for Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Mozambique, for example, poachers use poisoned bait to kill the lions and then cut off their heads and paws. In South Africa the dubious industry of lion breeding is involved in the trade of bones of these majestic cats.

By Stefanie Rach

“Today Dad and Uncle returned to our lion pride from their patrol. They had picked up the scent of the Tall Bipeds; therefore our pride should quickly move on, and head further upstream to assure our safety. Uncle says that the Tall Bipeds can be very dangerous.

Dad and Uncle used to have a brother but the Tall Bipeds came and chased after them. There was a loud noise and suddenly one of the brothers collapsed, utterly still, being not anymore. But this happened before Dad and Uncle came here and established their territory.

So the Tall Bipeds seem to be some kind of hunters. But wait, that can’t be, because we are at the top of all hunters. Dad always says that we are the greatest hunters here in the savannah because there are no animals that sees us as prey.

When my aunt, the one with the bright spots on her legs, hears that there are Tall Bipeds in the area, she becomes alarmed, immediately ready to move on. Mom told me about a time before Auntie came to our pride to live with us. Her family found a kill and ate it, right then and there. Auntie had cubs at the time, and left them behind for their safety. When Auntie returned to her family, it was terrible. Everyone was not anymore. Then, she caught sight of the Tall Bipeds who tore off the paws and heads of her family members and took those with them.

Does this mean that the Tall Bipeds are scavengers? Or maybe they are like the hyenas, sometimes hunters and sometimes scavengers. But even if this is so, we lions are hunters and not prey. I don’t get it…”

“Today rangers came to our school again. I am already 7 years old and with 7 years, you must go to school. The school in our village is next to a very big national park and that is where the rangers work. Once a month they come and tell my class about the wild animals they protect from poachers. Because poaching is wrong.

Once the police came to our village and took away a man who was poaching. He said that the meat was for his family. But because poaching is wrong, the police took him away.

Today the rangers told us a lot about lions. They said that lions are endangered because there are not enough places for them to live and because poachers kill them to sell their bones and teeth. In China they need a lot of lion bones and teeth for their traditional medicine.

My aunt also has a lion bone and many other bones. She tosses them up in the air and then reads the future in the bones. And for her medicine she sometimes needs lion fat. Is that wrong, too, because lions are endangered? My mom always says that being a sangoma, a medicine woman, is very honourable. And grandma says that our traditional medicine has been around for many, many years and it is very important for us.

Maybe it’s the same in Asia? But why do they hunt our animals? Do they also want our medicine because it is so honourable and old and important?

My big brother works on a farm where there are many lions. They are shot by tourists. It is called caged Lion hunting. I told my brother that this is poaching, and poaching is wrong. He said it’s not poaching because the tourists paid for it. And he also said that the bones of the dead lions are then sold to Asia. Until now, I don’t think I really understood about the lions and poaching.”

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GMFER is a registered non-profit in the USA and South Africa. Tax-Identification No. 81-1276522 (USA), 305-272 (South Africa). 

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