Shilpa Parbhu

PhD Candidate

Captive breeding and conservation: lessons from captive lion breeding

(with Prof Antoinette Kotze)

The African lion is one of Africa’s most iconic species, attracting a large amount of attention worldwide. They are currently listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species over their range. Habitat fragmentation and loss are attributed to this decline, as well as human-wildlife conflict, trophy hunting and poaching, a reduced prey base due to the bushmeat trade, and wildlife trade of their body parts for traditional medicines. Lions are commercially bred in captivity for the purpose of the bone trade industry, for education, and for trophy hunting.  In South Africa, this has become a common practice with an estimated 7 000 lions in approximately 260 captive breeding facilities.

Shilpa assessed the genetic health in captive populations of lions in South Africa with the ultimate goal of increasing the genetic diversity within these populations and to understand how species may change over time in captivity.