‘Canned’ Lions in South Africa

a profit driven industry started by the desire for cheap trophy hunts

In the 1997 ‘Cook Report’ investigative journalist, Roger Cook took great personal risk and exposed the canned lion industry in South Africa, back then merely 2,000 lions were bred for this industry. Estimates today range up to 12,000.

In august this year roger cook reflected on this industry in the mirror newspaper

Roger Cook reflects on what he believes to be the most evil industry he’s investigated.

Roger Cook exposed the industry of raising lions to be shot in 1997. Since then the industry has grown and now profits from the lion bone trade as well as trophy hunting.

Mirror Article

as this 20 year old video of an investigation by ABC shows, canned ‘hunting’ – the close range shooting of tame animals has been going on for a long time.

The utter disregard for life is distressingly evident in this vile industry, this is quite simply about making money and to hell with the welfare of the animals they profit from. Lions make money from the second they are born and taken from their mothers, as volunteers continue to pay to feed these orphaned cubs, and visitors pay to cuddle them. Even after their death, profits are still maximised as bones of lions and tigers are sold, while the trophy hunter takes just the head – his prize home. The industry that is now the biggest animal welfare problem in South Africa is one that most hunting associations want to wash their hands of, but it could be argued that as the drivers of this industry they should take some responsibility for the current state of South Africa’s farmed lions – numbering 3 times the population of wild lions in South Africa.

2019 – the situation today

The Sun newspaper published this insight into this vile industry in July this year. The Daily Mail dedicated 10 pages to a year-long investigation by Lord Ashcroft. World Animal Protection has just released this report, and Born Free Foundation produced Cash Before Conservation report.

In May this year South African NSPCA made an inspection of one facility in the Limpopo area, and laid charges against the owners, the images below taken by the NSPCA in a follow up inspection they made in July. In spite of this, and the pending court case already filed against this facility in May, this second inspection shows again the appalling state and lack of care given to the lion cubs at this lion farm in Limpopo. The shocking images below, as well as a video released of a cub suffering from a neurological condition, are from the second inspection by the NSPCA in South Africa. Lions raised in captivity in South Africa have long been exploited by breeders, who’s focus is profit, and there are huge sums involved. The industry has moved into the profitable lion bone trade now, but can sometimes double its money by having the lion killed by a paying customer first.

Some claim that this industry is beneficial for wild populations as it saves them from being shot by hunters, others that this industry has no impact on wild populations. This is also not the case, wild lions are stolen for this Industry, as this article shows where 22 Botswana lions were sold to a farm in South Africa.

On 6th August. A South African Court ruling has finally signaled some good news for farmed lions in South Africa. The ruling that the 2017 and 2018 lion bone quotas of 800 and means that the consideration of animal welfare issues have to be taken into account. The immorality of breeding lions and tigers for the bullet and more recently for the lucrative bone trade has been discussed since the 1997 Cook Report first revealed it to the outside media. Yet, the industry has continued to thrive, in fact the number of lions kept in captivity has ballooned since the Cook Report. From around 2,000 to 8-12,000 today.

Lord Ashcroft’s team investigated lion farms still breeding lions to be shot by trophy hunters over the course of a year. Their extensive investigation was published this summer.

In 2016 an NSPCA inspection revealed these images of skeletal lions in a farm in Limpopo photos from NSPCA inspection. Lord Ashcroft’s investigation revealed photos of the mass slaughter of lions (50 in one day at one facility). Lions shot to order by willing customers. An unregulated industry with no consideration, experience or knowledge of how to care for these extraordinary big cats.

The distressing lack of welfare of lions and tigers kept in breeding farms destined for the ‘canned’ lion shoots or the lion bone trade and – increasingly – both have been catalogued for years, and yet the industry thrives, unregulated, seemingly impervious to public opinion. But times are changing, unlike the farmers, others are not impervious to public opinion, hunting associations like ‘Safari Club International’ want to distance themselves from this industry, the tourist industry ‘Brand South Africa’ wishes to distance itself from this industry and now the legal challenges on the welfare of lions are starting to get somewhere, the High Court decision ruling the 2017 and 2018 lion bone export quotas illegal, finally leaves this vile industry in doubt.

south africa has reclassified 33 wildlife species as farm animals

South Africa in a shocking move in May this year, has re-classified lions, as well as cheetahs, elephants and rhinos as ‘farm animals’. We have challenged this with our South African partners. See media release below.

South Africa’s claims to be a paradise for wildlife, hides the uneasy truth that the increase in wildlife is through wildlife farming, not conservation. These businessmen breed wildlife as farming stock, for sale to people who want to shoot them. John Hume has been breeding white rhinos for many years now, the distinction between farming rhinos or any other wild animal and conserving animals or captive breeding for reintroduction programmes is huge. John Hume still hopes to sell rhino horn to the lucrative Chinese market. This business plan is failing because the market demands wild rhino horn not farmed rhino horn, a failure of basic business rule of market research first. Conservationists are concerned that building demand for rhino horn is not going to solve the poaching problem, by far the greatest threat to rhinos today.