HOEDSPRUIT – International blockbuster Blood Lions roared into Hoedspruit on Tuesday night to a large and enthralled audience and will echo across the world for some time to come.

The documentary exposing the large scale commercial breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa shocked many and confirmed the worst fears of others with an in depth investigation, revealing interviews and powerful imagery. The viewing at the Southern Cross School was attended by nearly l50 concerned residents and visitors and was followed by an enlightening discussion with the documentary makers. The panel lead consultant and wildlife activist Ian Michler: producer Pippa Hankinson, described by dailymaverick.com as consisted of ‘inspirational’; and the executive producer Andrew Venter, who is also CEO for the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Of the estimated l0 000 lions in South Africa over 7 000 are on private Farms specifically bred to be killed. The huge volunteering industry where generally younger foreigners pay exorbitant fees to “rehabilitate orphaned lions” is exposed as one of the cruelest cons in conservation. Allegedly most “sanctuaries” that allow petting and contact or walking with lion are not rehabilitating them for the wild but for canned (confined by small enclosures or due to the lions habituation) hunting.

The discussion panel made it clear that legitimate conservationists are campaigning to increase the range and protect current habitats for wild lions.

A telling point of the film was Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom’s statement that canned killing has already damaged brand South Africa and as a nation “We need to decide if it something we are proud of’. The Environment Minister was not available for a screening in spite of multiple offers, but several of her senior departmental and ministerial staff did view the documentary some weeks ago, The Minister however continues publically to deny that canned hunting takes place.

This will set up an intense community and cabinet debate about putting a R94 Billon tourism industry at risk for the sake of a R122 million canned lion killing business.

Australia has already banned the import of hunting trophies. With several European countries making sounds in support of joining that ban to end this cruel and unnecessary trade.