Doccie looks at lions bred for slaughter

MARITZBURG College in collaboration with Wildlands Conversation Trust and the film’s producers, brings you the local premiere screening of the internationally acclaimed documentary Blood Lions.

 Lions bred for slaughter in SA is big business. Over 700 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in the country last year, fuelling a multimillion-dollar international industry.

 Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about predator breeding and canned lion hunting.

Michler investigates the breeding farms where lions are hand-reared to be sold to the hunting industry. We witness the results of battery farming that provide stark contrast to lives of wild lions.

 Aggressive farmers resent Michler’s questions, but the highly profitable commercialisation of lions is plain to see – cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, hunting, and the new lion bone trade are all on the increase.

 It is a story that blows the lid off all the conservation claims made by the breeders and hunters in attempting to justify what they do.

The screening is to be held at Maritzburg College in the Alan Paton Memorial Hall on October l9 at 5.30 pm. Tickets are R80 each and can be booked at:

Tickets will also be available at the door. Secure parking is available on Princess Margaret Drive. For the protection of the basketball court surface, women are requested not to wear high heeled/stiletto shoes.

 This challenging conservation production is being hosted at Maritzburg College in acknowledgement of their efforts and support of Project Rhino KZN, and the Youth Warriors conservation theme #LetOurVoicesBeHeard. Your support will be appreciated.

Lion industry studied

Cecil the lion and Blood Lions documentary brings issue of brutality to the fore

THE SA Predator Breeding Association (Sapba) has commissioned a study to investigate the value of the lion industry.

This comes at a time when the lion- hunting industry seeks to overcome the negative backlash after American dentist Walter James Palmer shot dead Cecil, a lion in Zimbabwe, and over local documentary Blood Lions.

The recent development raised shared concern on conditions in which lions are raised and how they are brutally killed every year.

 For this reason, Sapba has approached Prof Melville Saayman and his team at Trees (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society) at the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus to investigate the value of the lion industry in South Africa.

 His study will focus mainly on the main breeding areas of North West and the Free State to determine the number of lions in the industry, estimated to be between 4000 and 6000.

 ln his brief, Prof Saayman said: “A ban on hunting in Zimbabwe and the accompanying loss of income for Zimbabweans means that about 2.3 million children are now deprived of the necessary aids. This means that the education sector is suffering, it means that bread is taken from their mouths. lt means that 2.3 million children are worse off and their low quality of life has deteriorated even more as a result of a bad decision by the government.

 “We can already see how poaching is increasing and we see unemployment increasing as well.

 “This is not a healthy situation,” he said. Saayman said the Blood Lions documentary brought to the fore practices that needed to be wiped out.

“Blood Lions created a bad impression of the industry and one of our challenges will be to rectify the situation. There are undesirable practices that harm the whole industry. However, this can be attributed to only a few people, but still leads to the fact that misconceptions about the industry are created.

There are one or two bad apples in the lion cage,” he said.

The study would also focus on how best lions can be evenly distributed should they become too many for their habitat.

 “We will also determine what must be done with the surplus lions, because it has to be determined what is best for the market. Some of the lions have to go back to the parks and some must be introduced to new areas to improve the gene pool. We have a healthy number of lions in the country and thanks to our breeding programmes we are not in a dangerous situation, but we will have to see what is going to happen with the surplus lions,” Saayman said.

“Surplus lions can serve an educational purpose, they can play a major role in ecotourism, like walking with lions and, as was mentioned before, they can be distributed to improve the gene pool in the country.

 “Of course we can also export lions to countries where there is a shortage of lions. This will mean that those countries will have to guarantee that they will care for the lions.

We did that in the past, but then the animals were poached,” he said The investigation is also anticipated to play a leading role in bringing back the respect it lost as a result of the Cecil and Blood Lions issues.