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Written by Blood Lions and published online by Conservation Action Trust on 10 March, 2020

When travelling in South Africa, please THINK before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK with, VOLUNTEER with or SHOOT predators.

FACT – There are 350+ predator breeding and keeping facilities in South Africa holding somewhere between 10,000-15,000 big cats in captivity. The vast majority of these animals, possibly as many as 10,000, are lions.

FACT – These predators not only include lions, cheetahs, leopards, caracals, servals, but also many exotic species such as tigers, jaguars, pumas and even ligers (crossbreed between lion and tiger).

FACT – The breeding of predators in cages and confined areas is purely for a variety of commercial purposes, including canned or captive hunting, exploitative tourism activities and the lion bone trade.

FACT – Lion ecologists and conservationists believe there is no conservation value in the breeding of lions in captivity, as they cannot be released back into the wild. Captive lions are ill-equipped to survive in wild areas, are human-imprinted and lose their fear of humans and are genetically compromised.

FACT – Most cubs born in captivity are ripped away from their mothers within days of birth, in order to bring their mothers back into oestrus (become fertile) much quicker and for the cub to be habituated through hand- rearing and handling.

FACT – Cubs as young as 3 weeks old are introduced into petting enclosures, where they are petted, cuddled, and kissed, and sometimes even bottle fed, for up to 10 hours per day by paying visitors.

FACT – Most captive facilities make use of volunteers, which has become one of the most lucrative revenue streams. In some instances, facilities can earn in excess of US$100,000 per month from their volunteer programmes alone.

FACT – Annually, 800+ captive bred lions are killed in South Africa by trophy hunters, and increasingly canned or captive hunting is seen as unethical and unsportsmanlike.

FACT – Between 2008–17, South Africa exported 6,634 lion skeletons under CITES weighing a total of about 70 tonnes, nearly all were imported by Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam and Thailand.

FACT – Since 2017, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) sets a legal lion bone export quota of 800 skeletons per year.

FACT – There are only a handful of #TrueSanctuaries for big cats in South Africa, facilities that don’t trade, don’t breed, don’t allow ANY unnecessary interaction, and provide a forever home for big cats that can’t be reintroduced into the wild for various reasons.

FACT – Since 2015, the Blood Lions® film curated over 150 screenings in 25 countries across the world, distributed 30,000 DVD and received ZAR61 million pro-bono media coverage globally to date.

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