Kampala, Uganda | AFRICATEMBELEA | The booming trade in lion bones internationally for traditional medicine could be behind the disappearance of lions from national parks in Uganda according to conservationist Edith Kabesiime.
Although commercial trade in all big cat products is banned except for the lion parts and specimens, lion bones are used as an alternative to tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicine.
A lion skeleton reportedly costs up to USD 1500 (5.5 million Shillings) on the global market according to a report by a public policy think tank known as the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). The same report shows that importers sell the bones for between USD 700 (2.5 million Shillings) and USD 800 (3 million Shillings) per kilogram. A 100-kilogram lion yields about 18kgs of bone, worth roughly USD 15,000 in the supply chain.
Kabesiime told a meeting on Wednesday that up to 20 percent of lions are disappearing annually in Africa without a trace. She said countries like Uganda have not been spared citing Murchison falls National Park that had 600 lions a few years ago but has fewer than 200 left currently.
Kabesiime says that even as there are no definite figures to show how much is being made by people dealing in the trade in Uganda, hundreds of Ugandan lions are being lost to Asian countries who buy the animals mainly for traditional medicine which has worse not been proven to have many medicinal benefits by science.
Kabesiime, a wildlife campaign manager at International NGO World Animal Protection Africa says that if the G20 summit sitting in Saudi Arabia in November put wildlife trade on the agenda in their next convention, this grim picture would be reversed.
According to her, while there are aspects of the trade that have been legalized in some countries like South Africa, it’s hard to differentiate who is doing the right trade from quacks something that puts animals lives at stake. She says all trade in wildlife should be banned.
However, generally, the latest report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) shows there are only about 25,000 in the wild in Africa.