Dead lion walking – A horror story
The chance to visit or volunteer at wildlife sanctuaries in Africa so they can pet, bottle feed or walk with orphaned lion cubs is a tempting one for most animal lovers. But sadly, well-intentioned visitors and volunteers are under the illusion that they are contributing to real conservation efforts. They think, that they hand-rear cubs that will be released into the wild. But they rear a Dead Lion Walking – Nothing else. Animal lovers beware. The vast majority of allegedly orphaned baby lions are bred for the canned hunting industry and/or for lion bone sales.
What is canned hunting?
Canned lion hunting is illegal in South Africa, but captive-bred lion hunting is allowed. Lions are bred in captivity and held in small enclosures until they are shot and killed. There is a fine line between the two, creating confusion that canned lion hunters take advantage of. The result is that South Africa is now the worst offender in Africa for a practice that has been universally condemned as cruel. South Africa is now the world’s largest exporter of trophy lion heads.
a sad story
The captive life-cycle begins from the moment the animal is born. Canned lions are predators that are bred and born in captivity on a lion ‘farm’. The cubs are removed from their mothers at a few hours or a few days old. They are then sold to SCAMtuaries where tourists and volunteers can pet them. And they ALL PAY to do so. It’s a million $ business. SCAMtuaries will claim that the cubs are orphans or were abandoned by their mothers. That the facility is contributing to conservation. When the cubs become too big for cuddling they are sold again. This time, to another facility where tourists can ‘walk with lions’. Some even declaw young lions to extend the timeframe!
Again, tourists/volunteers are scammed. They are told that these lions will be released back into the wild very soon. But the juvenile lions only have a short lifespan left to live. Soon they will be too big to walk with them.
the dead lion walking
Finally, the lions are reduced to their bones. Trophy hunters shoot them at close range in a fenced enclosure, or in a ‘canned hunt’. The hunter proudly takes the skins — and sometimes the head — home as trophies. The lion bones are sent to Asia for use in the Chinese traditional medicine trade.
Visitors to South Africa must be aware that facilities offering cub-petting or walking with lions experiences play no role in the conservation efforts of lions. By visiting them, they merely feed the cycle of life in captivity. Regrettably, for thousands of lions and other predators, it’s easy for well-meaning animal lovers to be duped by lion farms pretending to be sanctuaries farm. In a nutshell, bona fide wildlife sanctuaries do not breed, trade or allow human interaction with their animals. Anything else is a SCAMtuary and the video shows how the previously loved and petted animal will end.
Video 2015 / Courtesy of Four Paws International / VIER PFOTEN International