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Canned Lion Hunting Woes

Wednesday 15th September 2010

Canned Lion Hunting Woes

South Africa’s courts might soon decide that breeding lions for canned hunting (warning, video has disturbing content) purposes will have to cease.

Help sought from animal rights activists to continue an industry in trouble?

It could be that relatively soon, South Africa’s courts might decide that breeding lions (and perhaps other predators as well) for canned hunting (warning, video has disturbing content) purposes will have to cease. I believe this will be ethically and morally correct, and when and if the decision comes, it could be a milestone in terms of setting acceptable limits in terms of how we utilize captive wildlife for eager financial gain. It will be a very difficult issue for the court, as it will require a distinction among species that can be bred for the hunt and those that cannot. In China, we object to tigers being bred for commercial purposes (not hunting, but body parts) but in the UK we seem to accept that is OK for bred pheasants, quail, and deer to be bred to be shot. Where does the distinction lie? Perhaps one for the hunters to answer.


The canned hunting (warning, video has disturbing content) industry could not have been created without ethically and morally compromised clients – the hunters themselves. If someone were to breed chimpanzees, would there be clients to hunt them? If lions could be bred in the UK, would trophy hunters line up to shoot them?

The canned hunting industry provides a guaranteed easy kill. The lion canned hunting industry in South Africa was not opposed by international hunting organizations like the  Safari Club International, in fact a separate category of awards for canned trophies was established. Yet the Safari Club promotes ethical hunting practices? Canned hunting is seen overall as a “bargain basement” opportunity to get lion trophies. A Wall Mart for lion wall decorations and rugs? We have reported that some operations promoted reduced prices during the World Cup in South Africa and some even had a “two for one sale” – come and hunt a male and a female!

But now that industry is worriedly watching storm clouds on the horizon. What if they are shut down? Their first response, of course, is to say that very many people will lose their livelihoods. Too bad in my opinion. Akin to saying we must allow human trafficking so as to maintain the jobs of the traffickers? But here comes the next line of defence -  if we are not allowed to trade in canned lions anymore, we will have to euthanize about 5000 lions now in our breeding programmes. That should give pause to the courts they hope?


The shameful industry that was allowed to flourish on South African soil without any government restrictions and appropriate international attention is now facing South African courts. They are using desperate measures to claim they should continue the practice, and indeed invoking the sentimentalities of those involved in animal rights. Surely you cannot now allow 5000 lions to be killed whereas before we did not need your animal rights stuff while our industry was killing them in the hundreds per year for our profit? Political parties seem to be making deals all over the world in order to form a governing body, but this is a bit weird,canned hunting operators trying to appeal and cosy up to animal rights activists.

The canned lion hunting industry in South Africa might be offered a sunset period in which to wrap up their activities by the courts. And this article below suggests the possibility of some of the 5000 lions being used to provide various export commodities, including bone meal.

Overall, the South African government should have taken a better and earlier stance on the issue. Prevention is better than cure, and some sort of cure is all now left to the courts if they will actually make a decision. Or, might I submit, the decision might also be greatly influenced by international trophy hunters who just might elect to cease shooting a canned (or any other) lion based on ethics and morals? Let’s turn the spotlight on the consumers rather than the providers? Or would you as a consumer want to have the distinction of being listed as the last hunter with a canned lion on your wall before a law was passed to ban the activity? Perhaps the Safari Club International would also award a prize for that category… 


Posted by Pieter Kat at 14:30

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