Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

A process not an event

(c) SanWild; Hunters prefer to shoot male lions

It is not just the brutal death of the captive-bred animals that outrages its opponents, but the whole process involved.

In the case of lions, the breeders usually remove the cubs when they are three or four days old. This is extremely stressful for the lioness, with her deeply ingrained maternal instincts but it does induce her into another oestrus cycle making her more receptive to mating. In addition, hand-rearing the cubs makes future management easier and ensures the trophy hunters don't have to face a wild animal when it's time for the kill. There may also be a sex culling process at this stage - hunters like to kill male lions - their manes look more impressive, so most of the females may be killed.

Adult male selection in complex species such as lions can have far-reaching impacts on pride dynamics. If the dominant male of a pride is killed, this leaves the way open for pride take-over by male outsiders who will usually kill the cubs of the previous dominant male, to bring the lionesses into season again. This means that he will sire his own cubs rather than bringing up the cubs of another male. Ultimately, the death of just one 'trophy' results in a ripple effect causing the deaths of many more lions.

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