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Thursday, October 01, 2015

We Must End Canned Lion-Hunting In South Africa!

We Must End Canned Lion-Hunting
In South Africa!

Honorable President, Honorable Minister,

South Africa has been an attraction for tourist hunters from the USA and Europe for decades. Its concept, a grim reality. Young lion cubs are taken from their mothers at birth. They are then raised by hand and bred in captivity, as commodities, for the sole purpose of being targeted in an enclosed hunting ground, where they have no chance to evade their hunters. Often times they are drugged or even baited with food.

There are currently more than 6000 lions in 200 breeding farms across the country, and more than 1000 lions are hunted each year. Along with the hunters who participate in this barbaric ‘sport’, are tourists who are unknowingly, and misleadingly contributing to the Canned Hunting industry through their volunteerism at these breeding farms. Since the breeding farms don’t disclose the true reasons as to why they have the cubs, nor why there is a need to nurture them, these volunteers are essentially contributing to raising the cubs just so that they can be shot once they reach maturity.

I ask you to prohibit Canned Hunting in your country once and for all.

With kind regards,

What You Can Do:

* Refuse To Visit Any Breeding Or Hunting Farms.

Please Sign Our Petition Against Canned Hunting In South Africa!

* Avoid Tourist Attractions In Which Young Animals Are Exposed To Direct Contact With Humans.

* Inform Your Travel Agent, Friends, And Family About South Africa’s Lion Industry’s Background And Canned Hunting.

* Be Careful In The Choice Of Jobs, Work Experience, And Volunteer Opportunities In South Africa. Make Sure That You Are Not Giving Your Support To Institutions That Raise Lions And Other Animals By Hand For Commercial Purposes.

* Help Four Paws Outlaw Canned Hunting.

Donate Today

* Donate Via Paypal

Donations Coordinator Contact Information
4 Paws Rescue Team, Inc.

Stop Canned Hunting! #FOURPAWSgowild

The most extreme variety of trophy hunting is “Canned Hunting”. Most of the victims are lions, which are served to their hunters on a silver platter: The animals which are born in captivity are taken away from their mothers within hours of being born so they can be used in petting zoos. When they become of age they then spend the rest of their life in caged compounds waiting to be released in a larger compound for the so called ‘canned’ hunt.
Anyone can go and hunt lions in South Africa – a hunting license or proven hunting experience isn’t usually necessary. This means that many lions aren’t killed by the first shot which results in them experiencing an agonizing death, this is often the case when hunters choose to kill the lion using a bow and arrow.
For trophy hunting in South Africa there are approximately 6000 lions currently be held in the country's 200 breeding farms and neighboring properties where they will be killed.

Ask the South African President Jacob Zuma and the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, to oppose the powerful lobby of the lion breeders and to ban the cruel Canned Hunting at last!

South Africa is an extremely popular tourist destination for both nature lovers and hunters. Every year thousands of hunters from Europe and the U.S. travel to the region to participate in “trophy hunting,” from which hunters bring home dead animals as trophies to display on their walls instead of photos as souvenirs. Nearly all wild species are available for trophy hunting – even protected species like elephants – it is just a question of money.

Born To Be Killed: Lion Hunting In South Africa

The most extreme and particularly shameful form of trophy hunting is “canned hunting.” With canned hunting, the typically captive bred animals are in a fenced area with no chance of escape. They may be lured out into the open with bait (food often hung from a tree) or even sedated with drugs, all to guarantee the kill for the hunter.

In South Africa, most of the victims of canned hunting are captive lions whose life of suffering begins shortly after their birth. Hunters are given easy prey in the form of lions bred solely for the purpose of being killed. The lions are bred on farms and raised by hand, and hardly demonstrate any shyness or fear of humans. In South Africa there are actually more lions in captivity than in the wild.

Anyone can go and hunt lions in South Africa – a hunting license or proven hunting experience isn’t usually necessary. This means that many lions aren’t killed by the first shot, which results in them experiencing a slow and agonizing death.


In many cases the hunt isn’t carried out on the same farm where the animal was bred and raised. Instead, the lions are transported to other enclosed hunting grounds and shot there; around 1,000 captive lions are killed by trophy hunts each year. Most of the breeding farms and hunting reserves in South Africa are located in the provinces of Free State, North West, and Limpopo. In order to offer hunters special trophies some farms even breed and offer tigers for hunting, even though the animal isn’t indigenous to South Africa.

Sadly, canned hunting has become a popular hobby for a well-off minority from rich industrial nations. Complete hunting packages, which include the “support” of professional hunters as well as room and board, are offered on the internet, at hunting trade fairs, or through specialized travel agencies.  A fully grown, captive bred male lion with a magnificent mane can cost from $28,000 to $50,000. Lionesses can be purchased for $6,000 or less, and on some farms it is even possible to shoot lion cubs.

The Lion Breeding Industry

There are currently an estimated 6,000 lions in 200 breeding farms across South Africa – 50% more compared to the number of captive lions in 2010 – and this is where the suffering begins.

In the wild, lionesses have a litter of cubs once every two years. On the farms, they are forced to produce a litter every six months. Usually the young cubs are taken away from their mother within days after their birth; the lionesses are ready to conceive again very shortly after they have lost their cubs and are instantly mated again to continue the painful cycle.

The lionesses are plagued with the trauma of losing their cubs and their health suffers due to the unnatural frequency of breeding. Because they are giving birth more often than they would be doing under natural conditions, the lionesses become drained and weak after only a few years. It is therefore not rare for drained or small lionesses to end up being “special offers” for hunters.

The health of the cubs suffers as well. Being raised by hand at the breeding stations without milk from their mothers leads to massive deficiencies in the cubs, often resulting in debilitating bone deformations, respiratory and thyroid problems, digestive disorders, calcium deficiencies, and many other illnesses, the results of which have a significant effect on the animals when they grow up. The housing conditions for the young animals are often completely unacceptable: water, food, and shade are hard to come by in many of the enclosures. In the most extreme cases, female cubs are shot shortly after their birth as they are rarely in demand for hunting.

The frequently ill cubs are then exploited as tourist attractions. The stress brought on by constant contact with humans and the poor living conditions can lead to behavioral disorders as well as dangerous accidents in which people are being attacked and injured by young lions.

Throughout South Africa, unwitting tourists visit breeding farms where they are offered the opportunity to cuddle and interact with lion cubs and even take them for walks. By paying for these activities, tourists unknowingly support the inhumaneness of forced lion breeding and the canned hunting industry.

Even some volunteer work programs support this cruel business. Visitors from Europe and the U.S. are often attracted to the breeding farms as volunteers to help hand-raise the lions. It’s not rare for these volunteers to pay a lot of money for a six week stay in a so-called “rescue station” or a “game reserve.”

However these offers have nothing to do with the protection of species or animals. The young lions suffer on these farms. Despite their best intentions, the money paid by volunteers to raise lion cubs and work with lions fuels this terrible trade and the steady stream of lions made available for canned hunting continue to be bred under the guise of conservation.

After four to seven years, the lions reach the desired trophy age and are offered to hunters for shooting. Since the breeding farms don’t disclose their true intentions as to why they have the cubs, nor why there is a need to nurture them, volunteers are essentially contributing to raising the cubs just so they can be shot once they reach maturity.

The lion breeders falsely describe themselves as “nature conservationists” and claim to tourists and volunteers that the animals are being bred to be later released into the wild. This is obvious misinformation. Predators that are born in captivity, especially when they have been raised by hand, cannot be successfully released into the wild.

Generally, the sad end destination of captive lions in South Africa is a canned hunting farm. Anyone doing volunteer work or gaining work experience at these farms is supporting the horrific lion industry – even if they don’t intend to or realize that they are doing so.

Danger for Wild Lions

The supporters of lion breeding farms and canned hunting claim that both practices serve to protect the species. In fact the opposite is the case: while the number of trophy hunting tours and captive bred lions increases, the number of wild lions continues to decrease to an estimated 23,000 lions left living in the wild in all of Africa. Further pressure is placed on the wild populations by breeding farms, as an increasing number of wild lions are captured to help overcome genetic problems caused by severe selective breeding and inbreeding on the farms.

The escalating lion bone trade also poses a serious threat to wild lion populations. Euthanizing healthy lions and tigers for their bones is legal in South Africa with a permit, and the selling of lion bones to Asia for use in traditional medicine products has become an important and lucrative side business for South African lion farmers. However, as the trend for using lion bones in place of illegal tiger bones in products increases, the demand for and monetary value of wild lion bones intensifies because of the perceived medicinal quality differences between wild and captive animal bones.


FOUR PAWS offers lions that were able to be rescued from breeding farms a secure and species appropriate place to live at LIONSROCK. In the South African big cats sanctuary, there are lions from both breeding and hunting farms, and they have been spared an end as a trophy. At LIONSROCK, the lions will never be sold, bred, or hunted and will live the remainder of their lives in a safe and natural environment that is free from distress and suffering.

Naturally, many of the rescued big cats now living at LIONSROCK were originally born on lion breeding farms. Through being raised by hand and sometimes due to inbreeding, some of these lions are suffering from health problems. The lioness Limpi has been suffering from severe arthritis since she was three, and four-year-old Ghenges has problems with his hips. Many lions need medical treatment and in the worst case only an operation can help them.

P.O. Box 1416, 
Bethlehem, 9700
South Africa
Telephone: +27 83 440 9563

FOUR PAWS Calls For A Ban on Canned Lion Hunting

FOUR PAWS is determined to stop the cruelty to lions on South African farms. We are calling on the Government of South Africa to work on new regulations that will offer protection for lions, enable an outright ban of canned hunting, and prohibit commercial lion breeding farms.

Sign our petition against canned hunting in South Africa!

When Australia banned the importation of lion trophies this year, it became the first country to take legislative action against the lucrative business of hunting captive lions, an increasingly popular activity in South Africa.

Greg Hunt, Australia’s environment minister, called the controversial sport “cruel” and “barbaric” and said he hopes Australia’s decision is “part of a significant movement to end ‘canned’ hunting forever.”

Now the anti-captive hunting lobby—made up of conservationists and activists from around the world—is pushing for similar legislation to prevent lion trophy imports into the European Union.

Longer term, the opponents hope that a ban will be adopted by the United States, source of most of the hunters who go to Africa. (Read about the United States' decision to allow hunters to bring home rhino trophies.)

Hunters pay as much as $20,000 to bag a big male.

In South Africa, the hunts involve lions born and raised in cages. When they reach about four years old, they’re loosed into a fenced area of at least 2,500 acres to become targets for hunters using rifles or bows.


Demand for captive hunts has soared in recent years. South Africa (which recently released a Management Plan for lions) now has about 160 ranches with more than 6,000 lions, and 1,000 are shot each year. Hunters pay as much as $20,000 to bag a big male. (See pictures of 8 amazing animals at risk from wildlife crimes.)

Meanwhile, populations of lions in the wild have plummeted in Africa, from an estimated 200,000 a century ago to some 30,000 that live in isolated pockets. Lions require large areas to roam, and outside national parks and reserves, they often clash with livestock farmers and local communities.

Hunting Lions to Save Them?
Advocates of the lion ranching industry say that by breeding lions for hunting, they’re helping conserve the species.

“For every captive-bred lion hunted, you’re saving animals in the wild,” said Pieter Potgieter, chairman of the South African Predator Association. If there were no captive hunts, he says, there would be more sport hunting and poaching of wild lions.

But a growing number of scientists and conservationists see little evidence to suggest that the captive hunting industry in South Africa has done anything to stem lion declines in the wild across the continent. (Read about South Africa Tallying a record year for rhino poaching)

Chris Mercer, head of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting, a global organization, says the opposite is more likely.

“You have to decide what conservation is,” he said. “You can’t just look at numbers of animals. I would define real conservation as the preservation of natural functioning ecosystems.

“On ranches where farmers buy animals, put them on their land, bring the hunters on to shoot them, and then go back and buy more—that has nothing to do with conservation.”

In Mercer’s opinion, “Lion farming is actually contributing to the extinction of wild lions.”

Not so, says Potgieter, who believes that captive breeding enhances the overall gene pool, because some of those lions can be introduced into struggling wild populations.

But a 2012 report in the journal Oryx—“Walking with lions: Why there is no role for captive-origin lions in species restoration”—said that captive-bred lions and their offspring are poorly suited for survival and release back into the wild.

Luke Hunter, head of the global big cat conservation organization Panthera, which published the paper, says captive lion reintroduction programs in South Africa operate under a “conservation myth.”

According to Hunter, “Any sincere effort to reestablish lions simply has no reason to resort to captive animals."

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Vulnerable—But Okay To Hunt

The African lion is classified as Vulnerable on both the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List and South Africa’s List of Threatened or Protected Species. But regulated hunting of captive and wild lions is legal in South Africa.  

Wild hunts in southern Africa occur within designated concessions, mostly on the fringes of national parks. Hunts are generally managed under a yearly quota system, with the numbers of permits sold calculated so as not to undermine lion populations.   

A big male lion shot in the wild can fetch up to $75, 000—nearly four times what a captive hunt can bring.

A 2012 study of the effects of the South African captive-bred hunting industry on wild lions in the rest of Africa showed that if captive hunting is stopped, there might be some increase in demand for hunting wild lions.

But the study also suggested that additional demand for hunts of wild lions could help the species by raising the price of these trophies, creating further financial incentive—assuming the funds were put back into conservation—to preserve wild populations.

Dereck Joubert, a big cat conservationist and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, believes that “there’s no place for lion hunting of any kind in Africa.” Particularly, he says, “while wild lions continue to decline at the present alarming rate.”

Soaring Trade in Lion Bones

In recent years, demand in Asia for lion bones has surged, threatening wild lions as never before and boosting the already lucrative South African market for breeders of captive lions for hunting.  

Lion bones are ground down, boiled, and mixed with goat bones, herbs—even opium—to make “tiger bone” cake.
Lion bones are coveted in Vietnam and China as a fraudulent and cheaper substitute for tiger bones to make “wine” and other products. The bones are ground down, boiled, and mixed with other ingredients, such as goat bones, herbs—even opium—to make a “tiger bone” cake that is believed to have medicinal properties.

Tigers are now so rare, numbering perhaps no more than 3,000 in the wild, that poachers can be expected to increasingly target lions instead. In Vietnam, the skeleton of a single lion can earn the producer of fake tiger bone cake up to $70,000.

Potgieter believes that skeletons from captive-bred lions in South Africa are helping to supply the demand for lion bones in Asia, in effect protecting lions in the wild.  

Chris Mercer, however, is concerned that the legal trade in lion bones from South Africa (which currently supplies an illegal tiger bone industry in Asia) is only fueling demand, and will ultimately devastate wild lion populations.

“Traditional Chinese medical practitioners often insist that the bones of wild animals are more potent than those of captive bred ones,” he said, which will inevitably increase the incentive to poach wild lions.”

“The whole animal bone industry is fraudulent,” he said, “but what lion farming is doing is building up a massive demand and increasing the investment in Asia in this industry.”

Trophy Hunting: The Final Frontier

“Trophy hunters are a massively powerful lobby,” said Ian Michler, an investigative writer, conservationist, and South Africa-based safari operator who spearheaded talks with the Australian government last year. He’s now in discussion with members of the European Parliament.

But, he said, “You can’t just march into the EU and expect to make sudden changes. It’s going to take time.”

In 2009, the European Parliament—reacting to opposition to the mass hunting and harvesting of wild harp seals in Canada—made an unprecedented and controversial change in legislation that prevents the importation of seal products into the EU.


Michler is confident that a similar decision will be made with regard to lion trophies.

The campaign to end canned lion hunting has not yet reached the U.S., which Chris Mercer believes will be “the last country in the world to impose any restrictions on their hunting industry.”  

The U.S. is by far the biggest importer of lion trophies—accounting for more than half. In Mercer’s opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for legislation relating to trophy imports, will be resistant because of the lobbying might of hunters and the allied gun industry.

But Ian Michler is confident that worldwide change is inevitable, as people come to see captive hunting—and sport hunting in general—as ethically wrong.  

“I don’t expect any overnight successes,” he said. “We’re involved in a major philosophical deep-rooted debate here. This is going to take time.” 

Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.

Monty Henry, Owner


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