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Blood Lions named Best Documentary at oldest global environmental film festival

Cape Town – The highly controversial canned lion documentary Blood Lions has been named the ‘Best Documentary feature film’ at the 23rd International Environmental Film Festival (FICMA), recently held in Barcelona, Spain.

And to add to the prestige of the international recognition, the Festival Internacional de Cine del Medio Ambiente is the oldest International environmental film festival in the world.

Pippa Hankinson, producer of the Blood Lions film says she is “immensely honoured and proud to accept the special award” on behalf of the entire Blood Lions team.

The award serves as a beacon of hope in a conservation journey that has been plagued with backlash in the canned lion hunting industry over the past year. Although there has been great victories, such as various global  airlines’ banning the transport of lion trophies, and the US’s ban recent bans on captive-bred lion trophies, the victories came at a great cost of captive lion populations’ lives and their livelihoods.

The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (Phasa) earlier this year also took a stand against captive lion breeding, when its executive committee suspended the membership of those who continued hunting captive bred lions.

Phasa said it was willing to go to the Pretoria High Court to defend its decision regarding the hunting of lions bred in captivity,  after the suspended members have legally challenged their suspensions.

Blood Lions commented on the matter saying, “it is clear from the respective stands being taken between PHASA and South African Predators Association (SAPA) that the lines are being drawn on two key aspects: ethics and the contribution, or lack thereof, that breeding lions for canned hunts makes to conservation.

“Blood Lions commends PHASA for being prepared to defend their stance in court against expelled members, most of whom it would seem have now joined SAPA. Shooting captive reared lions in enclosed areas can never be regarded as ethical, and the entire recognised conservation community has stated there is no conservation benefit to breeding lions in captivity.”

Many conservation efforts to ban captive lion breeding and hunting came about after the airing or extensive global media coverage of the Blood Lions documentary.

Blood Lions is a feature documentary that exposes the captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa.

It is estimated that approximately 1 000 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in the country in 2015, fuelling a multi-million-dollar international industry.

A lot has been done since the first screening of the film to ban captive lion breeding, but at the most recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), canned lions’ fate were sealed: Global trade in the bones, claws and teeth of wild lions was imposed with exemptions for those harvested from captive-bred lions in South Africa.

In the wake of this decision, Blood Lions made it clear that they will continue their campaign to end the captive bred lion industry and trading of lion products for good.

FICMA Director Jaume Gil I Llopart thanked the Blood Lions team for participating in the festival and for making their hard-hitting film. He says the documentary comes at a much needed time in the global context of conservation.

“Thanks for putting in the forefront a story that, too often, goes unnoticed in the mass media, such as the business of hunting for emblematic animal species,” he thanked the Blood Lions team.