I am sure many of you will recall the controversial television programme aired at the beginning of this year, in which Louis Theroux investigated the sickening canned hunting industry in South Africa.
My blog at that time outlined the half-hearted attempts by the South African government to bring this reprehensible industry under control. Although the new regulations that were passed were an improvement, they remain far from satisfactory, leaving a number of loopholes for unscrupulous hunters to take advantage of. Nevertheless, soon after the regulations were approved, the SA Predator Breeders Association took the Government to court in protest. They claimed that the new Regulations would ruin their business.
As far as we are aware, the case remains in court.
Incredibly, the South African government, in light of the court case, decided to withhold the implementation of the new Regulations specifically for lions until the court case was resolved – therefore lions currently remain exposed to the completely unacceptable practices that were legal under the old Regulations.
Now, a shocking new report from the South African charity Animal Rights Africa, has indicated that canned hunting, far from diminishing, is, in fact, booming. More than twice the number of lions were hunted as part of a canned hunt in 2007 than were killed in 2005. A staggering 702 lions were killed, the majority in North West Province, which has an unbelievable 80 lion “farms” that breed lions to serve this terrible “industry”.
The South African Government, instead of promising to put an end to the practice, now appear to be sending out messages of reassurance to the hunting industry that they will not have to cease business. A Ministerial spokesperson recently stated that the government “…does appreciate the existence of the industry and that there is no way that the regulations will eventually lead to the closure of the industry as the industry is an accepted part of the tourism experience package that South Africa markets.” This is a shocking turn-around from the reassurances made by the South African Minister, Marthinus van Shalkwyk earlier this year that the government is “…putting an end, once and for all, to the reprehensible practice of canned hunting.”
So, it appears that the government are backtracking, caving in to the breeders and hunters – and ultimately continuing to take no direct effective action to protect lion welfare. Indeed, for lions already languishing in these dreadful farms, any action may now simply be too little, too late.