A game farm where 250 lions were bred to be shot in canned lion shoots or “driven hunts” were neglected so badly that they were starving to death. The weaker lions were highly emaciated and dominated by the stronger lions who took what little food was available. The game farm in Alldays in the northern province of Limpopo, South Africa, was raided by the NSPCA wildlife protection unit having been tipped off by a neighbour of the farm who took photographs of a number of the farm’s 250 lions and passed them on to the NSPCA (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
This sort of story leaves one speechless because it is so unethical and immoral. It is immoral to breed lions to be shot in canned hunts in the first place. It is doubly immoral and unethical to starve them to death through neglect. Thirdly, the culture that this sort of disrespect for the lion engenders flies in the face of lion conservation. It severely undermines the ethos of lion conservation in South Africa. If people have a mentality which allows them to starve this magnificent wild cat half to death and which leads them to breed lions for the sole purpose of being shot dead then it is very hard to see how conservation can work in South Africa.
In this instance, it is said that a year ago there was a turning point in the lion breeding industry when the Professional Hunters Association banned its members from hunting captive bred lions. Since then there has been a 70% drop in demand to shoot captive lions. Excellent News!
Because of this lack of demand the owner of this neglectful game farm may be under severe financial pressure which may have led to the owner being unable to feed the animals properly. In the wild lions hunt every 2 to 3 days. They eat on average 5 kg to 7 kg of meat a day. The meat comes from donkey meat, chickens or dead livestock from neighbouring farms and rejected game carcasses.
In defence, it is said that the farm’s owner and fallen ill. His staff were poorly trained. They were unable to feed the lions properly. This appears to be an excuse. It is an unacceptable excuse because he should ensure that his staff are trained properly and that there is sufficient funds to buy the food to feed the lions.
In South Africa it is very hard to enforce regulations governing lion breeding farms. Although there are quite strict regulations, indications are that they are unenforced. The authorities have to rely on whistleblowers.
Until last year more than 900 lions were hunted in South Africa annually with 99% being bred to be shot dead by so-called sport hunters often from America and other Western countries. It isn’t just lions. Last year 20 Belgian and Dutch hunters paid a lot of money to shoot hundreds of baboons, antelope and warthogs on another farm near the lion breeding farm mentioned. The animals were shepherded directly past the hunters who shot them dead. That is sick and totally bizarre. This happened not long after the debacle concerning Dr Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist, who shot Cecil the famous lion. As you can see the death of Cecil had very little impact in South Africa and Zimbabwe despite the international outcry against it.
Canned lion hunting is when lions are shepherded into an enclosure of a certain size which prevents them from escaping from a sport hunter who shoots the lion dead at relatively close range. “Driven hunts” occur when shooters fire at animals from the back of trucks. How anybody can get pleasure out of either of these activities is beyond me.
Captive lion hunting in South Africa is legal. Supporters of it say that it helps to fund lion conservation. I think this is a lie. I think, as mentioned, the culture which allows canned lion hunting to take place is the antithesis of the attitude and mentality of people who genuinely wish to protect and conserve the lion. Canned lion hunting undermines conservation. It does not promote it. I’m convinced that any money made from captive lion hunts does not go into conservation. Let’s not fool ourselves. Hunting companies charge about £19,000 to shoot a lion in South Africa. I’m sure there are many backhanders going to the authorities at the same time perhaps to allow the farms to ignore the regulations.
To return to the starving lions. The owner of the game breeding farm has been warned that he must build up the strength of the lions before they are sent out to be hunted. The lions are going to die either by starvation or by being shot dead.
It would appear that the owner does not value the lions any more as a financial asset which indicates, as mentioned, that lion breeding of this type may not be profitable anymore due to the introduction of the ban by the Professional Hunters Association. If this is true (unlikely) it is excellent news.
There is a peculiar ethical standard in the rules governing canned lion hunting. Lions are not allowed to be tranquilized. They may not be shot in front of other captive Lions. They have to be kept in an enclosure of a certain size.
It is hard to know how to conclude this article. From my standpoint all breeding of lions for the purposes of being shot by high spending sport hunters from rich developed countries should be ceased forthwith because they are completely unethical and serve no purpose in conservation but simply pander to the bloodlust of crazy men and women who take pleasure in killing and killing and killing.
Source: The Times of the same date.