Three people were arrested at Johannesburg airport on suspicion of trafficking. The lion bones were intended for Malaysia where they would be used for medicine and jewelery.
Twelve boxes with aluminum foil-wrapped lion bones caught the attention of inspectors at Johannesburg Airport Customs, South Africa. Export of captive-bred lion bones is legal in South Africa but a special authorization is required, which in this case did not exist. Authorities detained three suspects, all foreigners, in connection with the case. Two of the detainees are from Zimbabwe.
Lion parts are often sold on Asian markets as tiger parts, a fraud that arose in response to China's ban on the sale of tiger-based products, according to the British Environment Research Agency.
In this particular case, the cargo was destined for Malaysia, where the lion bones could have been used for medical purposes or jewelery.
"Tiger bone wine" is used in traditional Chinese medicine, although there is no evidence of its real health benefits. More than 11,000 lions live in South Africa, 3000 of which in national parks where hunting is prohibited.