For my first post I thought it would be appropriate to talk about something very important to me, and that I will have the honor of participating in today in my city of Toronto The Global March For Lions.
Today on March 15, 2014 over 60 cities from around the World will be marching to bring awareness to the issue of Canned Lion Hunting in the country of South Africa. This event to me is monumental and one that is much needed. The fact the so many awesome people from different countries are participating is beautiful!
So what is Canned Lion Hunting?
Simply put it is a guaranteed kill for a hunter. A Lion is placed into a fenced enclosure from which it’s impossible to escape. The Lion is tame (hand reared, habituated to humans), often they are drugged and offer no resistance. The Lion is shot through the body (to preserve the trophy) and will more than not die a slow, cruel, horrible death. Weapons used are not limited to guns as pistols or bow and arrow are also used.
- Lions are raised on “farms” where female Lions are turned into breeding machines (they are forced to have 3 litters per year, in the wild they would only have 1 litter every 3 years!) Once they have been used they are killed for trophies and their bones are sold to the Lion bone trade for use in traditional Asian medicine (they are quickly replacing Tigers in that respect).
- Cubs are torn from their mothers soon after birth and used by facilities that make money off their suffering. These cubs are marketed to recruitment agencies in the UK, USA and worldwide to “volunteers” – unsuspecting people sign up to stay at these farms and are led to believe they are helping with conservation.
- Volunteers pay to bottle feed, pet, play or care for cubs – all of which are destined to be shot in Canned Hunting facilities. (Any female cubs that suffer from inbreeding are killed, or female cubs are simply killed because they are undesirable as a “Trophy”).
- Once these cubs are too big for petting they are rented out for people to “Walk with Lions”. All this time big money is being made off of these animals.
- Once male cubs reach maturity around 3-4 years, the females when they no longer produce cubs, they are sold to Canned Hunting operators. All these animals will languish in crammed, overcrowded cages waiting to be killed.
- Mature and attractive Lions are then shot by hunters in fenced in camps with no chance of escape – finally the Lion Trophy (usually the heads) are cut off and mounted on walls while the bones are sold for use in bogus Asian Medicine. Again, all this makes those involved lots of money.
Some basic numbers on Canned Lion Hunting
- About 160 + Lion breeding farms in South Africa.
- 8,000 Lions currently waiting on death row in Canned Hunting facilities to be killed.
- 1,000 Lions are Canned Hunted a year in South Africa – about 3 per day.
- At last count there were 2,743 “wild” Lions in South African Game Reserves.
- The US is one of the largest importers of Lion Trophies – about 55%
Sadly, and what I think is most hard for all those fighting to end this practice is the fact that those 8,000 Lions currently in Canned Hunting facilities have been condemned to death – they cannot be saved. However, the goal of this campaign is to break this cycle of cruelty by working towards an immediate ban of further Lion breeding saving new cubs from the same fate.
You can help break the cycle of cruelty! Here’s how!
I believe, we can all do something, so here is a way for you to act!
- Ask the US to ban imports of Lion Trophies you can write the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ask them to ban importation of Lion Trophies and also raise the status of the Lion to “Endangered” (pretty hard to believe they are not considered Endangered?)
- Contact the South African Government to ask them to ban Lion Farming for Canned Hunting.
- As a tourist – NEVER support any establishment that breeds Lions or allows opportunities to pet, play, take pictures with or walk with Lions.
- As a volunteer – NEVER support an establishment that allows you to interact with Lion cubs – no bottle feeding, playing, or raising!
- DO educate others on this issue and spread the word about ethical tourist destinations in South Africa.
- You also may choose to support charities like Lion Aid in the UK who is doing some fabulous work to help Lions.
For more information on the Campaign Against Canned Hunting please check out Canned Lion formed by Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan. A few year back I had the pleasure of hearing Chris speak while I was in South Africa it was an eye-opening education and one I am thankful for. (I will address this chance meeting in a separate post)
Never stop roaring for these magnificent creatures!
Looking forward to seeing all the great people later today at our Vigil for Lions in Toronto!