If people knew the truth about what happens in lion farming and canned lion hunting, most would want it stopped immediately. I believe it is a case of getting the word out there, so everyone knows. If it can be made unacceptable to be seen or heard to be petting or walking with lion cubs due to its direct and close connection to trophy hunting – then the battle will be all but won.
Lion farming is an un-policed industry and lion farmers are notorious for their deviousness, frequently telling half-truths and out and out lies. These are people who choose to make money out of a whole lifetime of misery for lions in captivity only to end their life early as fodder for psychopathic “trophy hunters”, people who choose to spend tens of thousands this way rather than help animals or people they choose to kill.
Lion farming – or canned hunting – starts with taking the cubs from their mothers a few hours after birth and keeping them separate in spite of their cries. As there is only a small window of time where cubs can be petted of about three months so there needs to be a constant supply of cubs and the lionesses are used as breeding machines. What happens to those lions once they are too old to breed, or the cubs when they are too old to be petted, and too old to be walked with at only one year old? Cubs are often declawed at least on the front paws which is an extremely painful process akin to amputation.
Canned hunting is a brutal practice where on the surface of it, outfits under various guises of safari parks, farms, lodges, reserves and retreats, appear to love and care for lions – often stated to be orphaned lions – are in fact lion farms. Tourists pay large sums of money to visit and extra to pet cubs and ‘walk with lions’ as if it were a Butlins or Pontins holiday camp. The reality behind the scenes is something far different. These places are more like concentration camps for the lions.
Also deceived are volunteers from all over the world who come from all the world and often pay thousands for the privilege of being able to help care for the so-called ‘orphaned’ lion cubs. These places are set up in such a way that even the volunteers who work there can be deceived as to what is really going on. The volunteers may stay there for week and not realize that the place where they have volunteered is far from what they thought, a place to help animals but rather it is a place where they are mercilessly tortured and used, locked up and forced to walk with tourists like a dog instead of roaming free.
Lion cubs are often used in various publicity campaigns, including being hired out for weddings or other events. For example, he ‘psychic’ ‘spiritualist medium’ John Edward claims to know about canned hunting, but nevertheless posted pictures of himself petting cubs and walking with young lions on his Facebook page. He says he did the research and the place he visited, Ukutula, are known to be involved in canned hunting and supply trophy hunters. The truth is that probably John Edward’s ‘research’ amounted to a single question during a telephone call. [Let’s leave this unspoken but you know that I know but it’s OK.]
No matter what they say, the vast majority of the outfits that provide cub petting and walks with lions DO provide lions for canned hunting. It is only extremely rarely that lions are genuinely orphaned. Or else what do they do with them? Lion cubs can no longer be petted with after only four months old, and no longer walked with after they are a year old.
The demand from zoos or circuses is now very much reduced due to the ever increasing legislation against animals being used in this way, but the demand for lion parts especially lion bones for so-called tiger bone wine along with people who want to eat lion meat, means that a dead lion is worth a lot of money.
It is not surprising the people who do these horrible things for profit tell lies about it. Just like the puppy mill breeders don’t want people to know or see the truth about the dogs they breed. On the face of it, it looks innocent. The terrible cruelty is carried on behind the scenes.
There are hundreds of game farms in South Africa alone with many thousands of lions who were taken from their mothers shortly after birth and hand-reared, destined for a short life to be ended in a horrible way when they are often drugged taken to fenced off enclosure – the reason it is called ‘canned’ hunting – to be killed by a trophy hunter. Anyone can go on the internet and buy a lion for this purpose from any number of establishments and suppliers.
As many as half the lions killed in canned trophy hunting are killed by bow and arrow as the preferred weapon. It is more difficult to kill an animal with a bow and arrow and can be very distressing and painful. Many bowhunters are in fact sadists who enjoy the extra pain and distress that being killed this way usually causes. In order to preserve the head intact for the taxidermist often the animals are not shot in the head and whether shot by gun or by bow, often it takes several attempts to kill. In addition to this, many hunters are bad shots so it takes several attempts to kill the animal.
In the wild, lion cubs stay with their mother for two years where they learn how to hunt along with various social behaviours. In the natural state, lionesses have a litter about once every three years, but in lion farming, lionesses are forced to give birth over and over again, but are never allowed to keep the cubs. They grieve and mourn terribly for cubs that are taken away from them. This is cruelty beyond belief.
The truth is that while humans enjoy petting and walking with cubs, it is not enjoyable for the cubs to be mauled by humans in that way and being made to walk like a dog. Having been taken away from their mother and hand-reared in a completely unnatural situation, the cubs simply don’t know any different.
Once reared in this way, the lions can never be released into the wild, as they have never learnt from their mother how to hunt and so they will always be magnetized to return to humans to supply their food. So the same people that hand-rear them in a false unnatural world, betray them to be sold to die an often painful death at the hands of an often amateur hunter. The lions cannot fail but understand that something is terribly wrong but there is no way for them to understand what that is.
There are pictures of lions at these farms showing that they are far too thin and clearly underfed and undernourished. Photographs also show that these animals look bored and unhappy and frustrated with their lives, as they are deprived of a natural life in the wild and all that would normally comprise. They are forced to do things that are unnatural, like walk with people as if they were dogs, and live in a unnatural way.
Often tourists are lied to, and unaware that the same lions they are petting and walking with will – at the end of their short and miserable life – be put in a field to be shot by someone who can’t think of anything better to do with thousands of pounds than kill for fun and bragging rights. Some will end up as part of a trophy room collection that can cost many millions as hunters fulfill hit-lists for various Safari Club International awards that involve travelling around the world to kill certain specific sub-species of animals.
Can you imagine the shock and horror for some people when they realize that the same cub they petted or walked with on their South African safari holiday had such a horrible life, with a future mapped out for them with an early death at the hands of despicable trophy hunters?
There are various indications that the true number of lions killed each year in Africa is far higher than we are led to believe and is possibly as high as 4,000 or even more. Many hunters from the US and elsewhere ‘dream’ of killing a male lion and see killing a lion – like some do an elephant – as a pinnacle of achievement. The fact that most of the lions ‘hunted’ will in fact be canned lions, does not bother them. They lie about it to themselves and others.
The sordid truth about canned hunting would offend the vast majority of people so the canned hunting operators take steps to deceive in order to pander to the pride and vanity of people that pay to kill animals, so they can boast about how they were the ‘great white hunter’.
They proudly tell their ‘hunting’ stories and show off their photographs taken next to the dead body, perhaps get a wallet or something made out of their skin, and/or take body parts, or the whole body back with them for stuffing and installing in their trophy or gun room.
Lion farming is not confined to Africa, and in the UK for example The Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire charges £250 per person to pet one of teir white lion cubs. As does the West Midland Safari & Leisure Park. As white lions are not an actual sub-species, those same white lions are known to suffer from various problems such as a high rates of both minor and serious birth defects due to in-breeding,
Inbreeding of captive lions is causing serious problems so there is a much higher percentage of cubs being born with birth defects than would occur in the wild. These lions also suffer many nervous and other problems due to being frequently handled by tourists which is not natural for them.
The practice of hand-rearing captive lions comprises the health of the lions who are prone to suffer far more diseases and various health conditions than if they were raised by their mothers. This makes them susceptible to illnesses such as tuberculosis which makes the threat of total extinction that much more of a realistic possibility.
These lions do not live a natural or pleasant life and this has been observed to have a profound effect on the lions, so that they are emotionally disturbed, as a human child would be. There are accounts of people who have worked in lion breeding outfits or farms who have been very distressed at what they have witnessed there, such as the account on the Sanwild Lion Rescue site.
South Africa has an appalling wildlife protection record in recent years fueled by corruption, lack of political will and pure out and out greed. Professor Pieter Potgieter, chairperson of the South African Predator Breeders’ Association, defended the industry saying there is little difference between breeding lions and any other mammal. “Chickens are killed by humans. How are lions different from them?” he asked.
“In principle a lion is not more or less than a crocodile, an ostrich or a butterfly. It’s a form of life. Breeding animals for human exploitation is a natural human process,” he said. Potgieter said that breeding and hunting lions was only deplorable in the eyes of the public because a “sympathetic myth has been created about the lion as the king of the animals”.
He justified the practice, saying the export of lion bones is a legal trade authorised by the department of environmental affairs and denied that South Africa’s approach to captive breeding and canned lion hunting was feeding into the Asian demand for lion bones. “I don’t think that market is being created by the South African situation. That would happen anyhow and the more the Asian tiger gets extinct, the more people will try to get hold of lion bones as a substitute,” he said.
The extinction risk for lions is now even greater than rhino.
The following is from an article by Faranaaz Parker in the South African newsapaper, Mail & Guardian:
“Conservationists have warned that captive breeding and canned hunting programmes in South Africa are providing a source for the lion bone trade. Canned lion hunting is legal in South Africa, as is the exporting of lion carcasses. Lion populations across Africa have been reduced by 90% over the past 50 years, but lion breeders say their operations have nothing to do with the continent’s wild populations.
Breeders can benefit financially a number of times from the same lion. Cubs are often rented as tourist attractions and visitors pay to pet and interact with them. The fee paid by visitors is then fed back into captive breeding programmes. As adults, the lions are sold to hunters in canned hunting arrangements.
Farmers and hunting operators charge in the region of about $20 000 (R160 000) as a “trophy price” and hunters can expect to pay around $18 000 (R145 000) for other services, excluding taxidermy.
But the hunters are only interested in the head and skin of the lion, and often leave the bones with the breeder, who can then sell the bones, with a government permit, to Asian buyers for use in making lion bone wine.
It’s estimated that a complete lion skeleton can sell for as much as R80 000. Last year it emerged that over 1400 lion and leopard trophies were legally exported from the country in 2009 and 2010. [Most are exported illegally.]
You might not have heard about Dan and Charlotte Peyerk from Michigan. Charlotte was arrested for illegally killing a grizzly bear in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Her son Mark was also convicted and they were ordered to pay fines of $25,000 and $30,000 respectively.
In court, it was mentioned that the Peyerks tried to alter the date on their camera so that the trophy pictures would show that the bear was shot during the hunting season. The Peyerks also falsified the date of the kill on a state harvest tag and on a Safari Club International trophy entry form.
Later hunts were more successful, according to federal prosecutors. U.S. District Court magistrate Scott Oravec was apparently offended by the lengths to which the Peyerks went to cover up their poaching. “In imposing sentence, (he) commented that besides the illegal taking of wildlife, the more aggravated criminal conduct was the defendants’ multiple written false statements to cover up the illegal kill,” the government’s press release said.
This is typical of the behaviors of these trophy hunters. That is why usually the first thing that comes out of their mouths is “The hunt was legal“! Killing animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebra and rare antelope, deer and sheep for sport ought not to be legal and many people amazed that it is. Anyone with enough money can go to any one of a number of sites on the internet and buy a permit to kill these animals.
There is a bloodbath going on not just because of poaching, but through the legal killing of animals whose lives are sold for hard cash. The law must be changed to protect them before it’s too late as more and more species and sub-species become endangered or extinct.
Astonishingly this is the hobby of many wealthy people in the US, who would rather obsessively travel the globe to kill as many animals as possible of as many different species as possible – including rare and endangered animals which most of them particularly relish and will pay small fortunes for the permit to kill – rather than to help animals or people.
Each year tens of thousands of animals are killed by US hunters in foreign countries. The body parts are legally imported back into the US. While the Endangered Species Act only allows importation of endangered species for scientific research, there are loopholes allowing trophy imports.
Pro-trophy hunters argue this is good for conservation. Their stance is that the money spent on the hunt is poured back into the community for conservation efforts. In reality, research published by the International Council of Game and Wildlife Conservation (a pro-hunting group) shows that only 3% of revenue from hunts goes back to local communities.
Other research has shown that hunting has almost no benefit whatever to the local communities, although it usually does have a detrimental effect, as it inevitably has a negative impact on local ecosystems. There are links to a number of these articles on the Welcome page of this blog.
In contrast, ecotourism is a $77 billion global industry, employing tour operators, guides, lodge and restaurant employees. vehicle drivers, park guards and people who benefit from the sale of souvenirs.
According to the Alaska Dispatch – like so many other trophy hunters, who often become obsessed with their ‘hobby’ – big game pursuits in all corners of the globe soon became Charlotte Peyerk’s passion, and her list of accomplishments is truly impressive. Charlotte’s hunts include 26 countries on five continents. She has taken far more than 174 animals to date of which hundreds are registered with SCI (Safari Club International), and she has taken 17 species of sheep in five years.
In spite of the fact that she was convicted by a federal court for illegally hunting the bear, Charlotte Peyerk was awarded the club’s (Safari Club International) Diana Award in 2010, on top of that Charlotte is also listed as vice chairwoman of the award selection committee.
You would think that the Ethics Committee will censure Charlotte, and strip her of her Diana Award, and cancel her membership. Instead the Safari Club International promotes this “stamp collector” approach to hunting with various levels of awards. There are mutterings within the hunting community that SCI members regularly flaunt rules by engaging in shady hunts. The awards are terribly important to these trophy hunters because these Safari hunting Clubs offers dozens of awards for killing an assortment of its more than 500 different “record book” animals, ranking the biggest tusks, horns, antlers, skulls and bodies of hunted animals. Hunters receive “Grand Slam” and “Inner Circle” award trophies, among others, for shooting a prescribed list of animals. For example, the “Trophy Animals of Africa” award requires the hunter to kill 79 different African species to win the highest honor.
SCI has an award for “Introduced Trophy Animals of North America,” glorifying hunters who frequent captive hunting ranches. To earn every SCI award at the minimum level, a hunter must kill at least 171 different animals. Many members go well beyond that number. Some of these hunters have more than 600 different animals listed in SCI’s record books.
SCI has dozens of award categories like:
The Diana Award to encourage women to hunt.
The Young Hunter Award to encourage children to hunt.
The International Hunting Award, based on the number and quality of trophies, the number of countries hunted in, total number of hunts taken and the level of entries in the record book.
The World Conservation & Hunting Award, which has nothing to do with conservation. Rather, hunters must kill more than 300 species on six continents.
World Hunting Award Rings require 11 Grand Slams, 17 Inner Circle Awards at the Diamond Level, the Fourth Pinnacle of Achievement and the Crowning Achievement Award—which amounts to a huge menagerie of dead animals.
Inner Circle Awards include Trophy Animals of Africa, Spiral-horned Antelopes of Africa, Pygmy Antelopes of Africa, Wild Turkey Trophy Animals of North America, Introduced Animals of North America, Trophy Animals of South America, Antlered Game of the Americas, Trophy Animals of Europe, Trophy Animals of Asia, Trophy Animals of the South Pacific, Wild Pigs and Peccaries of the World, Antlered Game of the World, Mountain Game of the World, Wild Sheep of the World, Chamois of the World, Red Deer/Wapiti of the World, Predators of the World, Ibex of the World, Gazelles of the World, Wild Oxen of the World and Wild Goats of the World.
Grand Slams, including the African Big Five, Dangerous Game of Africa, African 29, North American 29, Cats of the World, Bears of the World, North American Wild Sheep, North American Elk, North American Caribou, North American Deer, White-tailed Deer of the World, European Deer, Moose of the World, South American Indigenous Animals and Wild Turkey.
Trophy hunters are usually very competitive and love to show off. No wonder hunters like Charlotte, Melissa Bachmann, Olivia Nacos Opre, Corey Knowlton, the Schockey family and and many, many more must have been under sufficient pressure to kill so many animals to win these awards!
Time has come that we should stop these Safari hunting Clubs from encouraging such excesses and the endless quest for sick awards to those who have lots of spare money and who call themselves “conservationists”?
This is a matter of kill as many animals as you can in as many continents as you can in the shortest time to be awarded all these trophies.
This is the most disgusting sick sport ever and must be stopped!
I am sure that if the general public knew this was happening, the vast majority would not agree that hunting ought to be a pastime at all – particularly trophy hunting – and there are estimates that would be around 95% of the general population.
To normal right-thinking people these practices would be abhorrent and if people knew what was going on there would be such an outcry that laws would be passed to make these practices illegal. Yet most people don’t even know that this is happening.
Let’s share the heck out of this article, with friends, family, and anyone and everyone else we know on or outside of Facebook.
The best way to help the animals is to tell the world what is going on, as there are far too many people who don’t know.
Safari Club International Awards and animal hit lists, awards and recipients: http://member.scifirstforhunters.org/static/WHA/