From the 9th to the 13th of March ITB (Internationale Tourismus – Bȍrse Berlin) will be celebrating 50 years of being the leading travel and tourism trade show worldwide.

The response from the Global Community to the practice of breeding lions, as well as the mis-management of wild lions – purely for the entertainment of the tourism community – over the last year has been astounding. Who would have thought that a single lion, Cecil, and a documentary such as BLOOD LIONS™ could have brought upon such a rapid and engaged response? It is for this reason that ITB – a major international tourism trade fair in Berlin, Germany – asked for the ground-breaking film BLOOD LIONS™ to be shown, as well as for panel discussions and a workshop to take place to figure out how tourism and travel activities can play a part in ensuring the exploitation of predators is no longer an acceptable practice.

BLOOD LIONS™ will be available at ITB on Stand 242 in Hall 4.1.  The producer, Pippa Hankinson, will be screening the film as well as participating in a number of key events:  

  • Together with Dr. Simon Morgan, Director of Wildlife ACT, Pippa has been invited to present the keynote address at Fair Trade Tourism’s annual event on the Main Stage in Hall 4.1 on Thursday 10th March at 10h15. They will also be participating in the subsequent panel discussion entitled “Imagine Helping Africa”, where issues regarding the quality in the volunteering sector, as well as how this might impact on the image and brands of the continent will be examined.
  • The full documentary BLOOD LIONS™ will then be screened inRoom Regensburg (adjacent to Hall 4.1), on Thursday 10th March at 14h45.
  • The screening will be immediately followed by a Workshop in Room Regensburg at 16h15 exploring “Predator Interactive Voluntourism”BLOOD LIONS™, Wildlife ACT, Fair Trade Tourism and Global Nature Fund will form part of the panel discussion. This valuable debate will include questions such as whether these interactions support ethical and sustainable. The role of predator sanctuaries will be looked at, together with the criteria for identifying bona fide conservation projects. The link to “canned” or captive hunting and the “tiger bone trade” will also be examined.
  • On Friday 11th March at 14h00 at Pow-Wow in Hall 4.1, there will be a 30 minute presentation on “Predator Interactions – are tourists and volunteers being conned?” where the trailer and some short clips from the film BLOOD LIONS™ will be shown. This will be followed by a short interactive Q&A with BLOOD LIONS™ producer Pippa Hankinson and Wildlife ACT director Dr. Simon Morgan, around whether tourists and volunteers are being misled.

BLOOD LIONS™ is a feature documentary that exposes the captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa. Approximately 1,000 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in the country last year, fuelling a multimillion-dollar international industry.

It is estimated that there are currently between 6,000 and 8,000 predators in captivity, mostly living in appalling conditions with inadequate breeding and welfare protocols in place to protect them. Volunteers believe they are supporting bona fide conservation projects and that the cubs will one day be rewilded. However, lion ecologists state that captive breeding plays no role in the conservation of this species, and that to date no captive bred, hand-reared lions have successfully been rehabilitated into the wild.

“There is still a lot of work to be done though and unfortunately the abuse of the “Voluntourism” dollar is still high, with lion cub petting and lion walking still being promoted heavily in Southern Africa,” said Dr. Simon Morgan of Wildlife ACT. “Wildlife ACT and Fair Trade Tourism brought the message about this abuse during the World Youth Travel Conference in Cape Town, by hosting a screening of BLOOD LIONS™ with a follow-up workshop with the conference delegates and producers of the film. It was at this conference in Cape Town that some organisers of ITB realised the importance of bringing this message to the global travel industry and kindly offered the BLOOD LIONS™ team, in partnership with Wildlife ACT and Fair Trade Tourism, the opportunity to bring the same message to unsuspecting supporters of this abhorrent practice of breeding lions to be bottle-fed, petted, cuddled, taken for walks and then ultimately hunted for profit.

In this chain of exploitation it is the tourism dollar earned from the “voluntourism” market and the add-on lion walks that are really cashing in on these poor animals which are bred simply for the bullet. Although the wild lion population of Africa is in decline, it is important to note that the captive breeding of lion play no role in the conservation of this species, in any way, and this is scientific fact. There are therefore no facilities which breed lion that can claim to contribute to the conservation of this species in any meaningful way. The global travel industry has a role to play in bringing these practices to an abrupt end and we will explore these issues while at ITB.”