When travelling in South Africa, please THINKbefore you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK, VOLUNTEERor SHOOT.
The Blood Lions Goal is to bring an end to canned hunting and the exploitative breeding of lions and other predators on farms across South Africa.
The award winning Blood Lions® feature documentary premiered in 2015. At the same time the Blood Lions Campaign was launched to create global awareness around the captive predator breeding, canned hunting and lion bone industries as well as the related exploitative wildlife interactive tourism practices.
Furthermore, the campaign encourages viewers of the film, visitors to Africa and followers on social media to make responsible choices about visiting or supporting wildlife interactive tourism facilities and activities. Through awareness and by reducing demand for exploitative products, the campaign aims to bring an end to the exploitation of captive-bred wild animals.
The Campaign is anchored by the Blood Lions® film, a strong and active digital media platform, and various specific campaigns with key international partners.
The Blood Lions team, which includes you, will plan and implement campaigns of awareness and action aimed at the following stakeholders:
The general public
Government (both local and international) and provincial decision-makers
The scientific and conservation community (NGO’s)
The tourism industry
The professional hunting bodies
The volunteer agencies
Key global partners
What You Need To Know
Breeding predators in cages and confined areas is not only about canned or captive hunting – there are a number of additional revenue streams, such as the lion bone trade and exploitative tourism activities, and none of these have anything to do with conservation.
Before deciding whether to visit, volunteer or hunt we ask that you consider the following:
On Breeding & Canned Hunting
There are almost 300 farms and breeding facilities holding somewhere between 8 000 and 10 000 predators in captivity. The vast majority of these animals, possibly as many as 9 000, are lions.
At the time of the film’s launch, over 800 captive-bred lions were being killed annually in South Africa by trophy hunters, and increasingly, canned or captive hunting is seen as unethical and unsportsmanlike.
‘Canned hunting’ refers to the shooting of captive bred and/or tame animals in confined areas. It covers other definitions such as captive hunting, high-fence hunting and ranch hunting.
For many people, there is no difference between canned hunting and the terms captive or ranch hunting that has been introduced by the authorities and professional hunting bodies in an attempt to get away from the negative image associated with canned hunting.
There is a growing group of professional hunters and organizations completely opposed to the practices of canned or captive hunting. We have already seen canned hunting organizations expelled from hunting bodies in Europe and the USA, and they are no longer allowed to exhibit at hunting fairs. We have also seen the South African hunting organization split.
Unless under the auspices of an authentic team of scientists and conservationists, breeding lions and other predators in cages or enclosed areas has no conservation value whatsoever.
There is a lack of data to support the claim that hunting captive bred lions takes pressure off wild lions. We do know that wild lion numbers across Africa continue to decline, and that wherever it remains possible to hunt these, demand for permits remains high.
Canned or captive hunting has merely opened up an entirely new market for people that would not have been able to afford a wild hunt.
Conservationists and animal welfare experts remain deeply concerned about the breeding practices used and the general conditions that exist on many of South Africa’s lion farms and breeding facilities.
Given the growth trends in predator breeding since 1999, it is forecast there could be as many as 12 000 to 15 000 lions and other predators on farms by 2020.
Very few, if any of the private lion farms and predator breeding facilities in South Africa can be regarded as genuine conservation undertakings as they do not work in conjunction with recognized lion ecologists and scientists or any of the global predator conservation agencies.
Most are simply breeding or holding predators for a variety of commercial purposes and making use of volunteers has become one of the most lucrative revenue streams. Some facilities are earning in excess of US$100 000 in some months from their volunteer programmes alone.
There has not been a successful lion reintroduction programme using captive bred and reared lions in South Africa. Lion conservationists warn that captive bred lions are not suitable for reintroduction programmes.
There are only a handful of authentic wildlife sanctuaries in South Africa and they do not breed, trade (they mostly receive animals rather than going out to acquire them) or interact with the animals in any way.
South Africa has no need to be breeding lions for release into wilderness areas. In addition, if there was such a need, using hand-reared or human-imprinted and genetically contaminated lions is not an acceptable way of doing this.
Taking lion cubs away from their mothers is not a natural process and is only done to exploit the animals and you as the visitor or volunteer.
Very few, if any of the cubs you pet and cuddle have been ‘abandoned’ or rescued in the wild.
Using breeding farms as an educational facility is like using fast-food outlets as a venue to teach about nutrition and good eating habits. In other words, breeding farms and petting facilities do not serve any educational purpose. Instead, they promote the cycle of breeding and captivity.
In general, the quality and validity of information being given out to visitors on South Africa’s predator farms and facilities is poor. It is also confusing vital conservation messages and priorities.
These operations are taking in significant sums of money, which in some ways is a misdirection of valuable conservation funding.
If you do find yourself on a breeding farm or predator facility, be sure to ask the following questions:
Do they offer any activities based on animal and human interaction?
If it claims to be a sanctuary, do they offer life-long care for the animals?
Are they trading in animals?
Where did all the animals come from and where do some of them go?
Who is their recognized predator ecologist or scientist?
Have any of their animals been released into the wild? And if so, where and when?
Before enrolling as a volunteer or going as a visitor, check the social media sites and blogs for comments and feedback on the particular farm or facility.
The lion bone trade is a relatively new revenue stream for the breeders and farmers and has come about as lion bones are now being used as an alternative to tiger bones in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The breeders and traders are being assisted by the South African government who claim that trade in lion bones is justified as a component to the sustainable use doctrine.
In 2017, the first quota of 800 captive bred lion carcasses was awarded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). This was increased to 1 500 carcasses in 2018.
We are concerned that the lion bone trade may well become the primary revenue stream for the breeders, and that this will promote the breeding of lions on an industrial scale.
As has been the case with various other wildlife species, a legal trade promotes demand and a parallel illegal market. This in turn puts pressure on wild lion populations.
Lions and other predators are being exported to private collectors, mostly in the Middle and Far East. These collectors are keeping the animals under appalling conditions, often confined to small spaces within the boundaries of major cities.
Although ‘tiger bone wine’ has been used in TCM for at least 1 000 years, or more, there are no known medicinal properties.
Often under the guise of scientific and/or research purposes, predators are also being sold to private and public zoos around the world, many of which are in a poor state.
By supporting these facilities and activities, either as a day visitor, volunteer or hunter you are not contributing to conservation. Instead, you are party to spreading the misinformation and the horrors some of the world’s most iconic wild species are facing.