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"Most lions in SA raised to be hunted"

Wednesday 16th January 2013

We came across a recent News 24 article entitled "Most lions in SA raised to be hunted", about the numbers of lions in South Africa bred purely for trophy hunting versus wild lions in the country. It prompted us to write the following:

Most lions in South Africa are now canned. What a sad statement that is but also what a reality check for all of us who think South Africa has a “conservation formula” based on placing wildlife in private hands. In fact, the canned lion population (meaning those bred entirely for trophy hunting purposes) in South Africa now exceeds wild lion population numbers in any African nation except Tanzania. We also need to accept, by the way, that the total population of lions in world zoos (most zoos do little or nothing to maintain lion populations in the wild) also exceeds wild lion populations in all lion range states except Tanzania.

So is the future of this species to be gawked at in zoos and force-bred to be shot at in South Africa?

It seems to be heading that way. In the article, Mr Pieter Potgieter (who recently made the statement “what is the difference between a lion and a chicken?”) supports captive breeding of lions for trophy hunting.

Potgieter says that there is no difference between killing a cow, a pig, a chicken, a lion or a sheep – they are just animals. But he must perhaps make a distinction that domestic animals have been specifically bred for many centuries to provide protein. While that in itself is objectionable to vegetarians and vegans, I see very few (any?) hunters mounting cow and chicken heads in their trophy rooms? Surely Mr Potgieter can see the difference between breeding an animal for meat and breeding an animal so it can be shot at close range for the single purpose of “sport” hunting?

So it comes back to the same situation as with privately owned rhinos also bred and sold purely for trophy hunting. Mr Potgieter would say – what is the difference between a rhino and a chicken? Perhaps he should know that no Vietnamese “pseudo hunter” would travel to South Africa to hunt chickens. And also that there has been a sudden upsurge in lion trophy hunters from Laos and Vietnam coming to South Africa.

In plain language, South Africa by facilitating rhino hunting and lion hunting has created a supply for horns and lion products in Asia to grow the markets, has created a lion and rhino poaching problem for other African nations, has done nothing for conserving wild populations.

Is it too much to ask South Africa to acknowledge where they have gone wrong in commercializing wild species and request them to now phase out such practices? And to ask any USA trophy “hunter” to forego hunting a chicken rhino and a cow lion in South Africa?

Picture credit: AFP/

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 17:56

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