Cape Town – When US Fish & Wildlife Service announced that as of January 22, 2016, all American trophy hunters would have to file additional permits before they could import their trophies from Africa, it was believed that lion hunts would be reduced.

Unfortunately this perception has not held true.

CannedLion.org reports a Free State lion-breeding operation put 61 captive-bred lions up for auction on 17 February – “a massive lion sale, even by South African lion industry standards… with a number of invisible telephone buyers”.

Advertised by South Africa’s biggest wildlife-game auctioneer, Vleissentraal, the auction was held at the Olivia Private Game Reserve near Bloemfontein in the Free State and saw 61 lions and two leopards go under the hammer – at a cost of “R58 000 each for the leopards” and “just over R2 million had changed hands” for the rest of the lions.

While the practice is not illegal in South Africa, it is widely questioned for what is believed to beunethical breeding practices and providing a backdoor for unauthorised or illegal hunts to take place – with awareness spearheaded most recently through the documentary Blood Lions.

In video footage posted to YouTube, the living conditions of young lion pens on Olivia Game Ranch are shown and calls into question the “dubious genetic status” of some of the lion cubs.