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SA’s trophy hunting industry disowns half-tame lion hunting

Johannesburg – South Africa’s trophy hunting industry said Thursday it “distanced” itself from hunts of half-tame lions in confined spaces, disowning a practice which has sparked worldwide outrage.

The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) said the majority of its members had voted to “distance the association from captive-bred lion-hunting” until lion breeders “could prove the conservation value of this practice.”

South Africa is one of the continent’s main markets for trophy hunting, with foreign – mainly US – hunters spending about 1 billion rand (70 million dollars) and exporting more than 40 000 trophies in 2013, according to PHASA.

Nearly all of the approximately 800 lions hunted in 2013 had been bred in captivity. Animal rights activists say most of the hunts are so-called canned hunts, carried out in a small space where the animal cannot escape.

The hunting of half-tame lions has come under increasing criticism with the recent release of the documentary Blood Lions and the killing of the GPS-collared lion Cecil in neighbouring Zimbabwe in July.

Activists say breeding lions does not help to preserve the species, because lions raised in captive conditions cannot fend for themselves and cannot be released into the wild.