Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

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Re: Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

Post by Lisbeth » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:19 pm

REVEALED: Bizarre lion behaviour in hunting video red flags SA's captive-bred hunting industry
2018-03-05 08:59 - Kavitha Pillay

A lion being hunted

World Wildlife Day was celebrated on 3 March under the theme 'Big Cats: Predators under threat'.

One would think that with the multitude of international campaigning for greater protection of Big Cats around the world, more would be done to conserve these endangered animals through sustainable and ethical means.

As the debate between hunting associations and conservationists intensifies regarding captive-bred lion hunting being the answer to conservation of wild lions, more international organisations are expressing their disagreement with the lucrative industry.

The Dallas Safari Club, has recently come out strongly against captive-bred lion hunting, while Safari Club International, one of the largest trophy hunting organisations in the world, says it will no longer allow captive bred lion operators to advertise or market captive bred lions at its annual convention.

A canned hunt is said to be a trophy hunt in which an animal is kept in a confined area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill. Certain parameters within South African law allow for a lion to be released and declared free roaming and open to the 'principle of fare chase' as soon as four days to a month - which is where the global contention lies and the push back against captive-bred lion hunting industry.

However, despite these moves by big players in the industry, canned lion hunting remains rife.

Sadly, the industry is being fed by a society who doesn’t see the dangerous and unethical consequences in captive breeding fostered by cub-petting and lion walk interactions.

The industry is also a result of some hunters and private game reserves who prioritise lining their pockets under the guise that captive breeding and canned hunting are assisting in conserving lions.

With the number of African free-range lions declining alarmingly over the last few decades – and only 20 000 remain today - one would expect greater action to be taken by government authorities such as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). But instead, the DEA has been called out for passing laws that support the lion bone trade industry, which also indirectly perpetuates captive breeding and canned hunting.

As a result, canned lion hunting is still taking place across the country in private game parks.

Footage shared with Traveller24, shows some questionable and unusual behaviour for truly wild lions. Taken last year at an undisclosed location in South Africa, the footage is not for sensitive viewers.

Hunters celebrate as a pride of lion are shot at. The lions react with confusion rather than fear – seemingly unperturbed by human presence yet baffled by the firing of shots, as they refrain from fleeing from humans who shout and shoot at them.

Watch it here:
phpBB [video]

Traveller24 spoke to anti-canned hunting campaigners and animal welfare activists, as well as the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (Phasa) to identify and differentiate an illegal canned lion hunt from a legal wild hunt.

What makes this a canned lion hunt?

Fiona Miles, SA Director of FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Foundation, says “there is possibility this is a canned hunt based on the fact that there are so many male lions together”.

“We observe that the lions do not seem to be perturbed by the vehicle, all the shouting and don’t seem to have what normally should be a natural fear, despite gun shots. It was seemingly quite a chaotic situation and with what seems to be 4 or 5 large male lions in close proximity,” she told Traveller24, adding that the hunt “seems pre-organised” and “not professionally executed as one lion was wounded”.

Linda Park, director of Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH) also pointed out that “all those lions are male and there are a number of them,” indicating that is unusual in a pride.

“One can clearly see that the lions in this video are used to humans by the way they are standing around looking confused. One can see that all the lions are in pristine condition, full-maned and not showing any of the scarring so typical of wild male lions. This is always a dead giveaway that the lions are captive bred,” Parks adds.

Miles adds that “the lions were proactive towards each other and did not back down and run away after one was shot. I was surprised to see at one stage one actually turned his back on the hunters."

She says another sign is that the “hunters also had time to congratulate each other and relax whilst three lions were in close proximity to them. Although I have seen many such footage pieces, it remains very disturbing to watch and take in”.

Meanwhile, President of Phasa Dries van Coller, says "it is highly unlikely to be a canned hunt as that is illegal and no permit to conduct such a hunt would be issued".

"From the video it is very difficult to draw exact conclusions and substantiate one's assumptions. It is most definitely a captive bred lion hunt.

"The lions are not drugged and appear to be fully coherent. The lions undoubtedly show no fear of the hunters which may indicate that they are captive bred," adds van Coller.

How to tell a canned lion hunt apart from a wild, legal hunt?

Miles says that in her opinion “the fact that there are only male lions and no female lions in sight perhaps says there is no pride and therefore not a wild hunt. It does not seem like a natural formation.”

According to Phasa, “various factors need to be considered” when determining the difference, adding that “any behaviour that raises suspicion, for example appearing drugged, should be questioned and reported”. Phasa says that the South African Predator Association’s (SAPA) norms and standards outlines “what is not acceptable practice”.

When asked to differentiate between 'fair chase' and a 'canned hunt', van Coller told Traveller24 that both terms "are open to various interpretations".

"The lions were hunted on foot - from what I can see no bait or artificial sound being used to attract the lions. To what extent the lions can evade the hunters can only be speculated on as the size of the area is unknown but the area does have adequate cover and brush. The question is then do these factors contribute to fair chase. As this is a subjective question you will always get varying answers," he explains.

"The lions were willing to defend themselves. Too much is left open for interpretation and I would be foolish to make blanket statements before having all the details to make an informed decision," he says, adding that while some people may find the footage offensive, others will not.

Laws and policies

Van Coller says that to differentiate between canned hunting and captive bred hunting one needs to look at legislation. "Captive bred lion hunting meets all the criteria the minister has laid down in the environmental legislation for which a permit is issued and is usually accompanied by a conservation official," he says.

"Legislation is very clear if a lion is bred in captivity it will always remain a captive bred lion. If a captive bred lion is released into a game reserve it will still remain a captive bred lion even though it is free roaming. This is why a free roaming captive bred lion is referred to as a ranch lion," says Phasa, whose members may only hunt ranched lions at 8 SAPA Accredited Hunting Ranches in the country.

"The offspring of a free roaming lion born in an extensive wildlife system will be the first generation of wild lions. Certain criteria are once again applicable," adds van Coller.

Meanwhile, Parks says that “the cause of the confusion is that there is no legal definition of canned hunting. The phrase is not even mentioned in the TOPS regulations." Park adds that with no legal definition, anyone can claim that canned hunting is banned or permitted - "whichever suits his purpose", she says.

Parks says that internationally, captive breeding and canned hunting has been receiving a negative reaction, with big hunting clubs like SCI and Dallas Safari “being vocal in their condemnation”.

“Unfortunately, in South Africa the industry is supported by the DEA,” says Parks, adding that the DEA “has no intention of closing down the industry as they see it as sustainable”.

The DEA has confirmed this in a statement issued to Traveller24. Albi Modise, Chief director for Communications at DEA says, "the fact that South Africa has legislative protection in place for endangered and threatened species and subscribes to the principles of sustainable utilisation of natural resources, there is no reason to prohibit the breeding of lion in captivity for hunting purposes."

"The Department, therefore, has no intention of closing down the captive lion breeding and hunting industries in South Africa in the near future," says DEA.

Modise says that DEA's Minister "has been consistent in qualifying that so-called canned hunting is not allowed, or condoned, by any law in South Africa", adding that any contraventions should be reported to authorities.

"The Minister instituted a compliance inspection of captive lion breeding facilities in South Africa. Phase 1 has just been completed and the report is being prepared for the Minister and the MECs of environment that will include recommendation on matters of compliance," adds DEA.

Canned hunts and conservation

Ian Michler of Blood Lions reiterates that “the canned or captive hunting industry plays no role whatsoever in the conservation of the species. Not a single recognised lion researcher or conservation agency supports the captive breeding industry or the captive hunting industry.

“The claims that are being made are incorrect and are done to try and legitimise what the operators understand to be awful practices. But because of the money involved, they continue,” he adds.

According to CACH, “the claim that every tame lion shot is a wild lion saved rests on false assumptions. The falsity is the notion that every hunter who is prevented from shooting a tame lion will automatically go out and kill a wild lion.

“In actual fact, canned hunters have a different mind-set from those who call themselves trophy hunters. Trophy hunters say that they would never kill a captive animal because of the absence of what they call ‘fair chase’. A key part of how they define themselves is by declaring how hard it was for them to earn their trophy.”

Rand-value of the canned hunting industry

“Putting a Rand value on a killing is a difficult one. One can go online and order a lion before even arriving in the country - something you certainly cannot do with a wild hunt,” says Park, adding that prices will depend on size, mane and whether there is surplus stock.

She adds that since the lion bone trade has come into effect, “nothing is wasted”, and lion bones, teeth, claws and other parts are sold to eastern countries.

According to Blood Lions, the exact value of the industry is unknown, “as it has become difficult for the canned hunters to get permits to export trophies to the USA”.

“We believe however that they have started looking for alternative markets in places like Russia and the old Eastern Bloc countries.

“At the time of the film’s release, we knew that over 1 000 lions were being hunted per annum and these went for prices as little as US$5 000 (about R59 900 at R11.95/$) for a female to almost US$50 000 for large black-maned males. But since the US Fish and Wildlife bans, plus the statements from various US hunting bodies condemning canned or captive hunting, these numbers may be somewhat lower now,” explains Blood Lions.

How can the average person make a difference and bring an end to this industry?

CACH advises the average person to “do their research” before visiting any place that has captive bred lions.

“Ask questions if you do end up somewhere that does not feel right. Take photos and report to one of the NGOs or the NSPCA Wildlife Unit. Talk to your friends as well. Each one of us has a responsibility to make a difference. Each one of us has the power to do so,” adds Park.

Blood Lions says that hunters must not come to South Africa to hunt captive bred lions, while tourists must not visit lion farms and parks - “especially those offering cub petting and walking with lion activities”.

“In addition, watch Blood Lions to get a better understanding of the predator breeding industry and all the revenue streams,” Michler adds.

Meanwhile Miles says that “by demanding a change in legislation”, people can make a difference to the industry. “Participate in ethical tourism activities,” adds Miles, saying that it is also important to “educate everyone to respect life”.
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Re: Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

Post by Lisbeth » Wed May 16, 2018 4:52 pm

Two SA hunting organisations expelled over canned lion hunts


bred in captivity. Picture: Audrey Delsink

Two South African hunting associations that embrace canned lion hunting have lost an appeal to retain their membership to Europe’s top hunting organisation, and have been thrown out of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation for breach of policy.
The decision was taken by the international council’s general assembly in Madrid.

The expulsion of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) and Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa (CHASA) is considered the strongest rejection of South Africa’s hunting policies, as well as of bodies which support canned lion or captive-bred lion shooting operations which are widely regarded as unethical and unsportsmanlike.

The expulsion follows a policy reversal by the two hunting bodies in November last year to support the captive lion hunting industry, and permit membership of their organisations by persons who engage in the practice of captive bred lion shooting. This is despite the fact that in 2015, PHASA members voted unanimously to reject captive lion hunts at the body’s AGM in Polokwane.

Tamás Marghescu, Director General of the International Council said that “both organisations had exercised their rights of appeal in accordance with the statutes, but failed in their bid to be reinstated. At the 65th General Assembly held in Madrid on May 4, an appeal was heard concerning the decision by the executive committee to expel the two organisations. The members decided by 114 votes to 3 that the organisations were in breach of policies and the expulsion was confirmed. There were 9 abstentions.”

In September 2016 the executive committee of International Council adopted the International Union for Conservation of Nature 13 which called on the South African government to terminate the hunting of captive-bred lions.

Since PHASA’s 2017 AGM in November, the world’s leading hunting institutions have moved to distance themselves from the organisation and the canned lion hunting industry, which continues to tarnish South Africa’s conservation reputation.

The decision to expel to expel the two organisations was widely welcomed by representatives of prominent African hunting bodies and organisations.

Danene Van der Westhuyzen chairperson of the Operators and Professional Hunters Associations of Africa and vice president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association said both organisations supported and applauded the decision. “It shows a movement towards unity, but even more so, that hunters condemn any such unethical practices.”

Custodians of Professional Hunting South Africa president Stewart Dorrington said: “The decision is not surprising. The International Council has always emphasised ethics and sportsmanship in hunting and are very conservation minded. Anybody who supports the captive bred lion industry in this day and age, will continue to isolate themselves from the world and their allies.

“The lion industry may be economically sustainable but is is not socially sustainable. The public will not tolerate it and will mobilise to close it down.The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association president, Gerhard Verdoorn, said: “The past two years have been an awakening for all hunters to return to the principles of hunting, namely the fair chase of a wild animal in its wild state and in its natural environment. Shooting captive bred lions, often in appalling conditions, simply don’t satisfy these criteria.”

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa exco members for comment.Meanwhile, the Brandfort lion breeding farm and slaughter-house discovered by the Free State SPCA last week, belongs to a former SA Predator Association council member Andre Steyn.

The gruesome discovery of at least 54 dead lions and a further 260 plus lions in captive conditions at Steyn’s farm, Wag n Bietjie, last week, sparked public rage over lions and tigers that are bred for the bullet and skinned for their bones for export to South East Asia’s widely unregulated medicine markets and wildlife body-parts trade.

Read original article: ... s-14878048
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Re: Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:10 pm

Opinion: Farcical quotes from the lion farming colloquium in South Africa

Posted on 5 November, 2018 by Chris Mercer in Hunting, Opinion Editorial, Wildlife and the Opinion Editorial post series.


Opinion post: Written by Chris Mercer – Founder of Campaign Against Canned Hunting

’ve been re-reading the transcript of the submissions made to the Portfolio Committee of Parliament in Cape Town recently. Some of the arguments advanced on behalf of the hunting industry made me wonder if they were written by a five-year-old child, rather than senior officeholders of hunting associations. Tragically these puerile arguments are accepted as gospel by conservation structures in South Africa.

Here are some howlers, along with my comments:

1. “It was not the practice of canned lion hunting that is damaging the conservation image of the country, it is the activists who keep publicising it. Government should ban people from commenting negatively on canned hunting. South Africa should only show the good news and kill the bad news.”

My comment: Yes, this was a serious submission made to Parliament by an executive member of a hunting association. I did not make this up!

2. “The 1000 people who work in the lion sector have a right to earn a living.”

My comment: What a sweeping statement! So everyone has a right to make a living in any way he chooses. Like robbing banks? Surely, this right applies only to occupations that are not harmful. Otherwise on his claim you could argue that everyone involved in human trafficking or drug dealing had a right to earn a living in that way. Oh by the way, the number of workers is grossly exaggerated – a few hundred at most are directly involved in hunting.

3. The DEA should not pay any attention to foreign NGOs who give input on how African wildlife should be managed. The DEA should only listen to Africans. And the Chinese. Not to any western colonial national.

My comment: Does that also mean that the SA government should not listen to any foreign hunting organisations such as Safari Club International?

4. Hunting brings in more than 1 billion rands of foreign currency to South Africa every year.

My comment: Ah! So now the criterion for legitimacy is how much money you make. The argument is that, if the industry makes a lot of money for its members, it should not be banned. On that argument, the sale of narcotic drugs should be legalised immediately since drug dealers surely make many times more money than the lion hunting industry. And what about the human trafficking industry? Should we also legalise that as well because it makes a lot of money for its perpetrators? Surely the question is not how much money an industry makes, but whether it is harmful. That is why human trafficking and drug dealing are banned and it is why canned lion hunting and lion farming should be banned too. How much money the industry makes is completely and utterly irrelevant. We are talking conservation here, not finance.

5. Lions should be hunted because otherwise, they would be “an economic burden on South Africa. One lion consumes food to the value of R120,000 per year. That equated to R250 millioat to n in economic value that they ate.”

My comment: Again, I’m not making this stuff up. We must kill lions because they eat too much? Really? Seriously? This is taken verbatim from the transcript.

And it is not only the hunting fraternity that is guilty of muddled reasoning and crooked thinking. Here from the hallowed halls of Oxford University comes a wondrous academic who advances the following perverse reason to promote canned lion hunting and the lion bone trade.

6. According to the precautionary approach, Dr Sas-Rolfes stressed, it should be incumbent upon proponents of a zero quota to provide assurances, backed up by scientific evidence, that it would not lead to an expansion of illegal trade and the poaching of wild lions or other wild cat species.[/i]

My comment: Wow! Let’s unpack this little gem of logic. The cautionary rule is a law in South Africa that requires conservationists to take action against any potential threat even if there is insufficient scientific evidence to quantify or measure it. It is a law which is designed to protect the environment, not the commercial interests of polluters or animal abusers.

The good academic takes this law and applies it to an assumption which he has made that the killing of a tame lion prevents the hunting of wild lion. There is not a shred of scientific evidence to support his assumption; on the contrary, tiger farming for the sale of body parts is banned by CITES because everyone knows that allowing a legal trade in animal parts will inevitably stimulate an illegal trade.

Having made a false assumption, he then stands the precautionary rule on its head and applies it against conservationists who warn of the dangers of allowing the export of lion bones to Asia. In other words, he is taking a precautionary rule designed to protect the environment and using it to protect the commercial interests of lion farmers and canned lion hunting operators.

So on the basis of such childish arguments as these, the SA government Department of Environment (DEA) not only permits but vigorously promotes a lion farming industry which:

• Inflicts routine cruelty on helpless animals on an industrial scale;

• Sabotages the efforts of the Department of Tourism to promote SA as a responsible tourism destination;

• Causes controversy, confusion and division in conservation;

• Has no conservation benefit; and

• May very likely stimulate the illegal trade in body parts of big cats globally.

I also found some other interesting snippets in the transcripts:

SANBI (the scientific authority of the South African National Biodiversity Institute) who was consulted by the DEA with regard to the quota for lion bone trade to Asia, indicated that “it was not answerable to the public.”

Wow! Even though it operates 100% on public funds? Is that acceptable?


At the end of the transcript, the committee announced that a report on the colloquium would be prepared and handed to the committee for further consideration. That has been delayed – perhaps partly due to the untimely death of Minister Edna Molewa, but is expected to be handed to the Portfolio Committee next week.

Then what? I’d love to be an optimist but I suspect that in five years time lion farming will still be flourishing in South Africa.

About Chris Mercer
Chris Mercer founded and runs the NGO Campaign Against Canned Hunting, an international group of activists working to bring the despicable business of canned lion hunting to an end. He lives in the Klein Karoo where he runs a wildlife sanctuary. He is the author of a book about the Harnas Lion Foundation in Namibia titled For the Love of Wildlife, and also the book titled Kalahari Dream that describes the seven years he and his partner Bev spent rescuing wildlife.
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Re: Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

Post by Lisbeth » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:14 pm

Number 3. is even more hilarious than the rest =O:
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Re: Canned lion hunting: Dark shadow of South Africa’s wildlife

Post by Flutterby » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:56 pm


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