Thousands of lions in South Africa are bred in captivity and then drugged and presented dazed for trophy hunters to shoot from parked vehicles. About 200 facilities across the country breeds them for canned hunting, and as many as 6,000 lions are stockpiled for hunters.
David Barritt, chief campaigner for animal welfare charity Network for Animals (NFA), explained that the lions are born in captivity. “Any cubs are taken away from their mother to be used as photo props for tourists. When the lions get too big to be petted, they are kept in enclosures until someone pays to shoot them. Often, it takes several bullets before the lion dies.”
Barritt said canned lion hunting is clearly cruel and reflects badly on the country’s conservation policies, yet the South African government has done nothing to stop it. “The the canned lion industry is wealthy and influential. It’s time for the South African government to realize what the world thinks of this cruel and cynical exploitation of wild animals and stop it.”
He urged concerned people around the world to sign the petition Network for Animals has created and will deliver to the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs. “If enough people sign, it will have an impact,” said Barritt. “Every day that this horror is allowed to continue means more dead lions at a time when the population is dropping throughout Africa.”
A century ago, around 200,000 lions roamed Africa, and now there are around 25,000 left. That’s a substantial and worrying drop.