Canned hunting, the hunting of wild animals (mainly lions) in a confined area from which they cannot escape, is not only legal in South Africa, it is flourishing . More than 6,000 captive-bred lions languish in over 200 predator breeding facilities across South Africa, double the number of wild lions in the country. Hunters from all over the world, but notably from the United States, Germany, Spain and France, flock to South Africa in their thousands and send home lion body parts, such as the head and skin, preserved by taxidermists, to show off their supposed prowess.
The animals involved are habituated to human contact, often hand-reared and bottle fed, so are no longer naturally fearful of people. Such animals will approach people expecting to get fed-but instead receive a bullet, or even an arrow from a hunting bow. This makes it easier for clients to be guaranteed a trophy and thus the industry is lucrative and popular.
There is a notorious piece of footage of a lioness shot by an arrow from a hunting bow in June 2012.
It makes disturbing viewing. The lioness is clearly not scared of people, but is probably unnerved at the strangers in the vehicle staring at her. She dashes past the vehicle on a few occasion, and returns to the small tree she has been sitting beside, in an enclosure with very little cover. She is seen rolling on her back, obviously comfortable enough around people to put herself in this vulnerable position. Then, from the safety of his vehicle, the hunter releases his arrow. The lioness writhes on the ground, roaring, for several seconds. She tries to run off and falls over. Then, she appears to be still. The film ends before we see if that single shot killed her.
These captive bred animals are commercially exploited throughout their lives; unwitting volunteers pay to help hand-rear cubs, unsuspecting tourists are encouraged to participate in photographic and ‘walking with lions’ opportunities, and ultimately the trophy hunters pay for the privilege of killing them in their canned hunting enclosures. Even after they have been killed, the exploitation continues through the sale of bones and other body parts into international trade, which feeds a growing demand that threatens to incentivise wild lion poaching.
We are appealing to the South African authorities to ban this cruel practice, and to authorities in countris from which the hunters emanate to ban the import of canned hunting trophies. In 2015 we hosted the launch of ‘Blood Lions’, a disturbing but compelling film exposing the industry, at both the European Parliament in Brussels and at London’s Royal Geographic Society.Contact the South African government
Attempts to get the canned hunting of lions banned in South Africa have so far failed. However, it is still important to let the South African government know the public’s anger and distress at the continuation of canned hunting, the damage this can cause to South Africa’s international reputation, and the impact it could have on tourism.