Born Free has welcomed the news that criminal charges have been brought against a South African lion farmer for animal cruelty.
NSPCA inspectors reportedly found 27 lions with severe mange, two lion cubs unable to walk, obese caracal unable to groom themselves, overcrowded and filthy enclosures, inadequate shelter, lack of water and parasitic infections at a farm near Lichtenburg, South Africa.
The farm’s owner is listed as a Council Member of the South African Predators Association, which represents many lion farmers and claims to 'promote and market a positive image of the predator breeding and hunting industry', and that 'conditions [on member farms] must adhere to international animal welfare standards for lion'.
Born Free is absolutely opposed to the cruel practice of canned hunting, and campaigns to end the captive breeding of lions and other predators for canned hunting and other forms of commercial exploitation.
Dr Chris Draper, Born Free’s Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity, said: “This shocking investigation has revealed young lions living in truly miserable conditions without adequate care and veterinary attention.
Image: Conservation Action Trust
"As if this weren’t enough, these cubs were destined to be sold into trade where they very possibly could have ended up having their lives cut short to supply hunters with sick trophies or for the trade in their bones. We congratulate our colleagues at the NSPCA for bringing animal welfare charges against the farm operator, and we hope that the silver lining in all this suffering is that people are now more aware of the cruelty inflicted on animals throughout their lives in the captive predator industry in South Africa.”
Dr Mark Jones, a veterinarian and Born Free’s Head of Policy, added: “The intensive breeding of lions and their exploitation for profit is completely unacceptable. South Africa’s lion breeding industry serves no conservation purpose. The animals all too often suffer short miserable lives as tourist props, as target practice for trophy hunters in ‘canned hunts’, and ultimately as mere products for trade. The international trade in lion bones and other products stimulates demand and puts wild lions at risk from poachers. South Africa has a responsibility to close this industry down, with due regard for the welfare of the animals concerned, and focus instead on protecting wild lions.”