On March 13 and 14, people in cities around the world will once again bring awareness to the canned Lion hunting industry in South Africa. Last year was the first Global March For Lions (GMFL) and with 60 cities worldwide participating it was truly a historical moment, no gathering had previously raised awareness for Lions like the GMFL did.
“Last year’s Global March for Lions created unprecedented public awareness world-wide about the plight of the lion. It was really extraordinary. During my almost thirty years fighting for the lion, never before I had I seen such a public outpouring of concern for the King of Animals. It was so heartening, and is making a difference. With this year’s demo we must build on this. The lion needs us like never before.” – Gareth Patterson, Author of My Lion’s Heart.
How the average person contributes to the canned hunting industry
For some it starts as a dream, traveling to Africa to volunteer on a conservation project where the placement includes interaction with Lion cubs. Most of these placements, which can be found in South Africa, sell themselves to unwitting volunteers who think that they will be doing a good thing by helping raise, bottle feed, and play with lion cubs. Volunteers are told they are helping with “conservation” of the species and that when the Lions are grown, and thus to large to interact with people, they will ultimately be released back into the wild.
This could not be further from the truth
Cubs, once able to feed themselves are turned into props used to provide photo and petting opportunities for paying visitors. There is nothing more unnatural to a Lion cub than being handled by humans all day long and being separated from their mothers. It is unhealthy, cruel, extremely abusive and exploitative. Most of these cubs are in very poor condition and are a product of FACTORY FARMING. These human-imprinted Lions have NO conservation value and therefore can never go back to the wild.
This industry is in it for money – there is no other reason
Once the cubs are too large and dangerous to interact with people most end up in the canned hunting industry. The Lion cubs that were hand-reared by volunteers, used for photo-ops and habituated to people are then killed by trophy hunters. The Lions are baited, drugged, shot with guns, rifles and crossbows resulting in a horrible lingering death for the animal. All this done in an enclosed area with little or no chance for the lion to escape. Lions now an easy target, betrayed by humans that they had once trusted and grown dependent on.
Breeding captive Lions helps wild Lions
- Breeding of lions in captivity is NOT an important scientific necessity for the survival of Lions in the wild and it is certainly not a recognized conservation practice
- To date almost NO captive reared Lions have been successfully introduced into the wild and, the gene pool in wild Lions is still sufficiently wild
- Inbreeding is very prevalent in captive bred Lions and wild Lions are captured to breed with those in captivity to improve their genes
- Luke Hunter (President of Panthera and someone who has worked on the conservation of wild African cats since 1982) and other experts recently published a paper demonstrating this “Walking with lions: why there is no role for captive-origin lions – Panthera Leo in species restoration”
- Stress to cub and mother caused by separation at an early age
- Habituation to human contact, abuse and in some cases lack of adequate nutrition (to keep them small)
- Restriction of freedom to express appropriate behavior and protection from fear and distress
- Finally, Lions are sold into the canned Lion hunting industry
Many volunteers who take a placement at these facilities may not always be aware of what they are getting into. However some will defend placements even when presented with the facts, denying and refusing to believe that the cubs they once “played” with have since been sold into the canned hunting industry.
Thankfully, some return from their experience wanting to prevent others from making the same mistake. I urge you to read www.claws-out.com a blog where volunteers recount their time at Ukutula Lodge in South Africa. A cautionary tale, these volunteers are now advocating against the cub petting and canned hunting industry.
Where have all the Lions gone?
Believe it or not Canned Hunting Is NOT illegal in South Africa
Campaign Against canned Hunting (CACH), a South African charity working to stop canned lion hunting in South Africa, has had no success yet in changing the law. However since the industry relies on hunters being able to take their trophy home CACH, along with UK-based charity Lion Aid, are working on changing the laws so to ultimately prevent the importation of lion “trophies” into most countries like the EU and the US. This makes it less desirable to trophy hunt an animal when you can’t take the trophy.
Please visit the Global March For Lions Facebook Page for a complete list of cities and events this year, check back here for more updates and be sure to share this information to help educate others on the status of the African Lion.