Today I am addressing an issue that I feel very very strongly about, especially in light of my upcoming volunteer trip to South Africa:
*Warning: there are some images of canned hunts included in this post, they upset me and they may upset you, but it is necessary to include them to highlight how awful this practice is.*
I remember years ago when I first heard about canned hunting, and I thought “surely this cannot be legal?!” … but unfortunately, it is. Canned hunting in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa is a real and devastating problem. For those of you who do not know, I shall explain what canned hunting actually is. It is mostly lions that are hunted, but people can also pay to kill crocodiles, springbok, buffalo, hippos, giraffes, leopards and there are even certain facilities that allow people to hunt rhinos and elephants as well – two species whose numbers within Africa are extremely vulnerable. Animals are purpose-bred on ranches and other private land, solely for the purpose of being hunted when they reach maturity. The lions are always tame and used to human contact, so they do not view humans as a threat or with natural fear and caution, as they would in the wild. When a lion reaches maturity, it is put up for sale to wealthy trophy hunters from across the world – usually the USA, who pay a lot of money, anything from £5,000 to £50,000 – depending on the animal itself and the hunter’s requests – to shoot and kill the animal within a fenced off enclosure. Once the sale has been made, the hunter will make the trip to the ranch, where the lion will be put into the enclosure, unaware of its impending fate. The lion will then be “hunted”, the human will be on a van or truck, with a rifle, shotgun or even crossbow in their hands, following the lion about until they get the perfect opportunity to shoot it dead. As lions are big animals, the one shot will usually take a while to kill them, especially if they are shot with an arrow, leaving the lion writhing in pain and roaring in agony. The hunter will either wait for the lion to die from the first shot, or go in for further fatal shots. All equally agonising and terrifying for the lions.
The hunter will then take the animals’ head back as a trophy, and the rest of the animal is sold for meat or medicine. The lion never stands a chance. These enclosures are closed off, meaning that there is nowhere for the lion to escape to, it will be killed no matter how far or fast it runs. The lions are tame, often hand fed by humans, so within these enclosures they will approach humans, under the impression that they will receive food, but instead they receive an excruciating bullet or arrow, making this sick practice not a “hunt” at all, but simply an execution, as the hunter will not even have to try very hard to kill the poor lion.
You can see below how these disgusting excuses for human beings are posing proudly with their kills, even putting the animals in horrible, mocking positions. These hunters are even young kids in some cases.
This barbaric practice is not only legal within South Africa – it is thriving. Canned hunting facilities and the hunters themselves will try and justify and justify and justify their actions. You will not believe the ridiculous excuses and lies they come up with to defend what they are doing. Many of them claim that the canned hunting of lions and other animals actually helps animal conservation within South Africa. Yes you read that right; they believe that shooting and killing captive bred lions helps wild lion conservation. The fact is, wild populations of lions have declined by 80% in 20 years, so the rise of lion farms and canned hunting has not protected wild lions. In fact, according to Fiona Miles, director of Lionsrock, a big cat sanctuary in South Africa run by the charity Four Paws, it is fuelling it. The lion farms’ creation of a market for canned lion hunts puts a clear price-tag on the head of every wild lion, she says; they create a financial incentive for local people, who collude with poachers or turn a blind eye to illegal lion kills. Trophy-hunters who begin with a captive-bred lion may then graduate to the real, wild thing.
Within the lion breeding farms that support the canned hunting industry, lionesses are constantly forced to breed and have cubs. When these cubs are born they are taken away from their mothers at an extremely early age, leaving the lionesses distressed and pining for their babies. The cubs are then bottle-fed by humans and brought up without the love and care they need from their mother. These breeding farms will lie through their teeth as to the reason they do this. They will claim that “the cubs would not have survived if they had remained with their mother, as the mother had no milk” or that “the mother rejected the cubs or tried to kill them” or even claiming that the mother died, so they had no choice but to take the cubs. LIES LIES LIES. There is no better carer for a lion cub than its lioness mother, the breeders simply take the cubs away early so that the lioness will quickly become fertile again in order to give birth to more cubs. It is all a money making scheme for these people.
Two of the most publicised canned hunters just happen to be women, and they are both disgusting, vile excuses for human beings, with Kendall Jones even selling t shirts boasting the slogan “I hunt, it’s legal, get over it”. I have included their twitters below, both of which contain various photographs of the animals they have killed, so be warned, it’s horrible.
For more information and to get involved in the campaign against canned hunting you can visit the campaign against canned hunting’s website here.
Below is a list of places that breed lion cubs, use them as ‘cuddly photo props’ for tourists, and then sell them onto canned hunting facilities when they reach maturity. There are also some places included in the list that are not directly linked to canned hunting but do support trophy hunting or various other practices I view as bad, but details are written next to the name of each place, so you can judge for yourself as to whether it is a place you wish to visit.
• AFRICAN DANKBAAR Lion Breeders – www.jansenville.co.za/listing/african_dankbaar_lion_breeders (S.AFRICA)
• BAGAMOYA WILDLIFE ESTATE – www.bagamoyawildlifeestate.co.za (breeding, taking young cubs away to hand-raise them, allowing petting and sometimes selling lions) (S.AFRICA)
• BOSKOPPIE Lion and Tiger Reserve – www.boskoppie.com (S.AFRICA) (breeding lions and other big cats, and hand-raising cubs)
• CARE FOR WILD – www.careforwild.co.za (connected to Wildlife 4 Sale, a trading company advertizing lions including cubs available for trophy hunting. Raising cubs for breeders and returning them when they get older. Some good conservation work mainly with rhinos) (S. AFRICA)
• CARING4CATS Voluntarily Project – www.facebook.com/Caring4Catz?ref=stream (S.AFRICA) (allowing petting of cubs and adult lions alike)
• CHEETAH CONSERVATION FUND (CCF) – www.cheetah.org (good conservation work for the cheetah, but supporter of hunting cheetahs as a conservation method and trying to reverse the ban on cheetah trophy imports to USA) (NAMIBIA)
• GALAGOS WILDLIFE CONSERVATION – www.gwcvolunteers.com (situated in Venetia reserve where there is a lot of trophy hunting taking place. This volunteer project is terminated according to a recent message received. I guess the reserve decided to do their hunting without potential volunteer witnesses.) (S. AFRICA)
• INGWE WILDLIFE CENTRE – www.ingwewildlife.co.za (breeding and taking cubs away to hand-raise them, using cubs to attract volunteers, allowing petting, ties to Letsatsi and Limpopo Predator Park and the owners are game traders who sell wildlife including lions) (S.AFRICA)
• JABULA Big Cat Sanctuary – www.jabula.tv/index.html (owner Craig Busch is accused of animal cruelty, convicted on two charges of assaulting his former partner, unlawfully retaining property etc.) (S.AFRICA)
• KARONGWE GAME RESERVE – www.karongwe.co.za (the previous dominant male, monitored by the GVI volunteers, has been trophy hunted together with a couple of lionesses. See the FB page Save the Karongwe Lions for more details https://www.facebook.com/…/Save-the-Karong…/529615227105631…) (S. AFRICA)
• LEO Africa – www.leoafrica.org (based on the Selati Reserve, the previous dominant male Shaka has been trophy hunted when he got old) (S. AFRICA)
• LETSATSI La Africa – www.letsatsi-la-africa.co.za EVIL place! (S.AFRICA)
• LION PARK – www.lion-park.com (S.AFRICA) (breeding lion cubs for cub petting, later sells the lions when they mature)
• MABULANI GAME RESERVE – www.mabulani.co.za/Xara%20Mabulani/activities.htm (S.AFRICA)
• MBIDI RESORT AND ANIMAL SANCTUARY (RAMELA RANCH) – www.tigerman.co.za (www.ramelaranch.co.za) (breeding, hand-raising cubs and using them to attract volunteers, allowing petting, using tigers, lions or cheetahs (cubs and adults) for walks, swiming or shows….using animals only for profit, but NO known connection to hunting) (S.AFRICA)
• MODISA WILDLIFE PROJECT – www.modisa.org (based on a deGraaff property and the owners promote lion trophy hunting and are against the ban on hunting in Botswana) (BOTSWANA)
• MORESON Ranch – www.moresonranch.co.za (S.AFRICA) (Actively involved in providing canned hunting facilities)
• OTAVI LION PARK – www.otavilionpark.co.za (S.AFRICA) (provides lion cub petting and interactions for money)
• SEAVIEW Predator Park – www.seaviewpredatorpark.com (S.AFRICA) (contrary to their website claims, they sell lions and even tigers to game farms to be hunted and used as medicine)
• TSHUKUDU GAME LODGE – www.tshukudulodge.co.za/volunteer-program-launches (they were a breeding farm connected to canned hunting in the past, and they are a family of hunters with a hunting safaris operating on their reserve www.sussens.co.za/about-us.php) (S.AFRICA).
• UKUTULA Lion Park & Lodge – www.ukutula.com (S.AFRICA) (possibly one of the worst. They breed lion cubs for petting purposes and then sells their lions when they get too big to pet)
The following places are not necessarily directly connected to canned hunting, but they are engaging in practices that are not wholly ethical or have been found to be cruel to the animals:
• ALERT (African Lion & Environmental Research Trust) – www.lionalert.org/page/about-us (part of a force breeding and lion exploitation business through petting and walks with lions, not connected to canned hunting) (ZAMBIA)
• ANTELOPE PARK – www.antelopepark.co.zw (force breeding lions, exploiting lions through petting and walks with lions, not connected to canned hunting) (ZIMBABWE)
• BUFFELSDRIFT GAME LODGE – www.buffelsdrift.com (offering elephant rides) (S.AFRICA)
• KNYSNA ELEPHANT PARK – www.knysnaelephantpark.co.za (NSPCA reports cruel and abusive training methods employed to control and train baby and young elephants to use in the elephant-based tourist industry, offering elephant rides) (S.AFRICA)
• KWANTU GAME RESERVE – www.kwantu.co.za (forced breeding lions with the purpose of attracting volunteers, but taking good care of the animals, also selling lions, possibly to hunting reserves, but not related to canned hunting) (S.AFRICA)
• LION ENCOUNTER – www.lionencounter.com (breeding farm exploiting lions through petting and walks with lions, not connected to canned hunting) (ZAMBIA/ZIMBABWE)
• LORY PARK ANIMAL AND OWL SANCTUARY – www.lorypark.co.za (S.AFRICA) (allows cub and lion petting)
• MARAKELE PREDATOR CENTRE – www.marakelepredatorcentre.co.za (breeding, allowing petting and occasionally selling lions) (S.AFRICA)
• MUKUNI BIG FIVE SAFARIS – www.mukunibig5.co.zm (ZAMBIA) (allows elephant back rides)
• SONDELA NATURE RESERVE – www.sondela.com (using cubs to attract volunteers, offering petting) (S.AFRICA)
• TENIKWA WILDLIFE AWARENESS CENTRE – www.tenikwa.com (serious concerns regarding the welfare of the primates in their care, also safety related concerns) (S.AFRICA)
• ZANCHIETA WILD CAT FARM – www.wildcatfarm.co.za (raising lion cubs for Free State breeders, using cubs to attract volunteers) (S.AFRICA)
• ZEBULA – www.zebula.co.za (breeding and petting of lion and tiger cubs, elephant rides) (S.AFRICA)
I hope after reading this we can all agree that canned hunting is horrific and must be stopped.