Simba came to Kumanovo… Is there wildlife trafficking in North Macedonia?


Photos and videos of men and women, and even children, posing with a lion cub, have been appearing frequently on the social networks in the past few days. This trend of taking shots with a lion cub, no older than three months, in expensive cars, villas and hotels, was brought to public’s attention by the Skopje Zoo’s spokesperson, Tina Mickovska.

She reposted on Facebook a few videos and appealed to the social network’s users to report these shares and posts, noting that wildlife trafficking is strictly forbidden in North Macedonia.

Mickovska also warns that not just in the country, but across the whole of Europe, there are rigorous sanctions and the laws provision many years of prison for those that will be caught with such animal.

“Many famous personalities from Skopje, including the owner of a luxury hotel in Skopje, had their photos taken with a lion cub. Also, there are obviously lion cubs in Kumanovo, this is not the only one,“ Mickovska wrote.

The additional searches done by Meta.mk on the social networks have shown that the owner of a popular profile on TikTok boasted that the lion cub in his videos was named Simba.

Journalist of Meta.mk contacted the man who published the photos on TikTok. He denied that the lion cub in his videos had been on the territory of North Macedonia.

“I saw the lion cub in Kosovo, in Gjilan, in the “Maja e Zezë” restaurant, which has another lion, an adult one. The owner of the restaurant allowed me to take the cub for a ride,” he said.

However, the staff of the resort in a telephone conversation refuted the claim that there is a lion cub in the resort.

“We still take care of the adult lion that has been with us for years and will stay here until the institutions find an adequate sollution for him, but we do not have a little lion,”, the staff from the Maja e Zezë Resort claimed.

Apart from that, photos of a lion cub were published on the social networks by a woman from Kumanovo also, who on her profile wrote that she works for the Ministry of Culture.

On the 26th of September she published several photos of her holding and caressing a lion cub. The photos which have also shown children were deleted from the social network immediately before this article was published.

Although Meta has requested a response from the Ministry of Interior, the Customs Administration, as well as the State Inspectorate for Environmental Protection, there is still no feedback from the competent authorities how the lion cub entered the country.

In the meantime, in addition to Tina Mickovska, Anima Mundi Animal Rescue Organization also reacted. They called the relevant ministries to act urgently and tell the public who allowed the entrance of lion cubs in North Macedonia.

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