Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and American hunter, Rick Swazey, on their journey to uncover the realities of the multi-million dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa.
The story blows the lid off claims made by these hunting operators in attempting to justify what they do. Last year alone over 800 captive lions were shot in South Africa, mostly by wealthy international hunters under conditions that are considered anything but sporting.
Ian has been following this story since 1999, and the film shows him going onto these breeding farms to witness the impact that decades of intensive breeding is having on captive lions and other predators.
Aggressive farmers and many others within the professional hunting community resent his questioning, but the highly profitable commercialization of lions is plain to see – cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, canned hunting, trading and the new lion bone trade are on the increase. And all are being justified under the guise of conservation, research and education.
In parallel the film follows Rick, who purchases a South African lion online from his home in Hawaii. He then travels to South Africa to follow the path paved by many canned hunters.
We also speak to trophy hunters, operators and breeders, as well as recognized lion ecologists, conservationists and animal welfare experts about the predator hunting industry.
The film shows in intimate detail how lucrative it is to breed lions, and how the authorities and most professional hunting and tourism bodies have become complicit in allowing the industries to flourish.
There is also hope in our story as we cover the latest developments with the Australian government announcing a complete ban on the importation of all African lion trophies into Australia.
Blood Lions is a compelling call to action and shows how you can get involved in a global campaign to stop lions being bred for the bullet.
The Back Story
In 2011 Pippa Hankinson visited a private lion breeding farm for the first time where she found close on 100 lions held captive in small enclosures, many visibly inbred and clearly stressed. She was deeply disturbed by her experience.
Determined to find out more, she learnt that there were between 6000 and 8000 lions living in similar conditions on other breeding farms around South Africa – part of a multimillion-dollar industry – where the majority are sold into the captive/canned lion hunting industry or to Asia to supplement the “tiger bone” trade. Most shocking of all was not only that the industry was legal, but how few people seemed to know anything about it.
She often quotes Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Animals have always mattered a great deal to Pippa, but Africa’s wildlife and particularly lions, are very close to her heart.
A documentary seemed the most effective way to raise awareness around the exploitation of these captive-bred lions, but never having made a film before, Pippa set about gathering a proficient and committed team of professionals around her. Along with the extraordinary generosity and support of individuals and organisations from around the world, they helped her make this film.
The Blood Lions Campaign – “A Call to Action”
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 FILM TEAM
SPECIAL CONSULTANT/ LEAD CHARACTER