“Blood Lions has been welcomed and received huge support from leading travel operators during the WTM Africa show and we are shocked by the treatment of our organisation on a responsible tourism platform today,” Gerrard said.
Dr Harold Goodwin, host of the Responsible Tourism Sessions, had interrupted Gerrard rather abruptly and rudely on several occasions, further restricting her time.
Blood Lions was once again a target at a South African tourism trade show after being ordered to remove their trailer banner at Indaba last year.
Winners of the Overall African Responsible Tourism Award in 2017, Blood Lions was invited to speak on their achievements. However, on Friday morning, a fourth speaker was included last minute and another speaker was allowed to go well over their allocated time, leaving the Blood Lions campaign with a mere five minutes to speak.
“I didn’t handle the situation well and apologise once more to the Blood Lions team and the audience in the venue for the way the session ended,” said Goodwin.
Blood Lion’s Ian Michler stated: “Our message leaves little room for obfuscation, and if this wasn’t another attempt to muzzle it, then it was an incredibly ham-fisted and unprofessional way to manage an international travel show.”
There are an estimated 8,000 predators held in captivity in small enclosures on 250-300 breeding facilities in SA. These animals are exploited at every phase of their lifecycle; captive lions have no conservation value despite the claims made by the breeders.
Over 140 leading international tourism operators have already signed the Blood Lions Born To Live Wild pledge, committing to stop supporting any exploitative wildlife tourism activities, such as cub petting and walking with lions, and the senseless killing of predators.