Captive lions have long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape and their tragic story needed to be exposed before these practices negatively impacted on Brand South Africa. Congratulations to all involved in taking the time and making this happen. - Colin Bell, Tourism consultant and author of “Africa’s Finest”

Canned hunting, by definition, is when predators are bred in cages or confined areas specifically for hunting. African wild lion numbers are declining and obtaining permits to hunt them are expensive. However, farms that offer canned or captive hunting have opened a new market for hunters who cannot afford the price of the permit for a wild hunt.

South Africa is considered the top destination for trophy hunting and captive-bred lions for good reason. There are approximately 200 farms and breeding facilities in South Africa that hold between 6,000 and 8,000 predators, most of which are lions. Approximately 800 captive-bred lions are killed in South Africa annually by trophy hunters. SA is also the largest legal exporter of lion bones and skeletons. From 2008-2015, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued export permits for export of more than 5,363 lion skeletons. Ninety-eight percent of these were destined for Laos and Vietnam, which are known hubs for illegal wildlife trafficking. And last year (2017), the DEA approved an increase in the annual export quota to 800 lion skeletons from captive-bred lions.

While some of these breeders may claim they are part of the conservation of the species, studies have proven that unless the animals are under the supervision of scientists and conservationists, breeding predators in cages or enclosed areas has no conservation value. In South Africa, there has not been a successful lion reintroduction program with captively bred lions, and many conservationists have warned that captive-bred lions are not suitable for reintroduction into the wild. Authentic wildlife sanctuaries in the country do not breed, trade or promote prolonged interaction with the animals in any way.

WARNING: Graphic content

The riveting documentary Blood Lions follows environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on a trip to uncover the realities of the multi-million-dollar predator breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa.  

Since then, the team has initiated a global platform to raise awareness around these issues. They have addressed both the Australian and European Parliaments and have informed conservationists and scientists around the world. Since their visit, Australia was the first country to ban the importation of lion trophies into their country.

Find out more about the impact of canned hunting and the predator breeding industry, and the details on how lions bred in captivity actually live by watching the excellent documentary Blood Lions, which is now available on Showmax.  

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This content is sponsored by Showmax and co-created with BI Studios.