A video revealing the horrific practices within South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry has been posted by UK businessman, philanthropist and former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Ashcroft. The industry – known also as “canned lion hunting” – is fuelled often by unknowing local and foreign tourists.
After commissioning a year-long investigation, codenamed Operation Simba, into SA’s lion farming – Lord Ashcroft has called on the South African Government to put a stop to “lion farming” which he describes as “horrific and abusive” and of zero conservation value.
Thousands of lions are deliberately bred in South Africa to be killed as hunting trophies or for their bones (which are in demand in South East Asia and China for ‘traditional’ medicines including aphrodisiacs).
“The captive-bred lion industry shames South Africa – indeed it shames us all,” said Lord Ashcroft.
“By allowing such a barbaric practice, the South African Government is harming the reputation of a country that treasures its position on the international stage in the aftermath of apartheid. Captive-bred lion farming in abusive and horrific.”
He also called on the UK government to join the US and other countries by banning the import of captive lion trophies.
“We must do our bit to stamp out lion farming and show that we are not in any way complicit with it,” he said.
Lord Ashcroft’s revelations were published by newspapers in the UK on Sunday, and in a news release on his website.
Operation Simba, which involved former Special Forces and security operatives, revealed several illegal practices, he said.
Revelations from Operation Simba include:
- Hunting clients receive photos of captive male lions vis WhatsApp that they can select to kill, with price tags ranging from £10k to over £42k, depending on the quality and size of the lion’s mane.
- One hunter, a banker from the UK, was filmed shooting an exhausted lion (which had been chased by a 4×4 in a fenced hunting enclosure) with tranquiliser darts on an illegal ‘green hunt’.
- A safari company advised one of the undercover Operation Simba investigators, pretending to be a hunter, on how to get around a US ban on importing captive-bred lion trophies (via the UK first and then hiding it within another animal).
- More than 50 lions were slaughtered for their bones at a so-called “eco-farm” in South Africa’s Free State province in just two days. The lions were kept under appalling conditions, and horrific photos show their skeletons and innards afterwards “littering the floor”.
- Lions are allegedly being cross-bred with tigers to boost bone weight and earn the breeders more profit. This process can lead to birth defects and the early death of cubs.
- Tourists are unknowingly encouraging the trade by paying to pose with cubs or walk with young adolescent lions… most of which are destined to be slaughtered or hunted.
It’s estimated that there are at least 12,000 captive-bred lions in South Africa, fast approaching four times the number of wild lions in SA.
Lord Ashcroft pointed out that South Africa is the only country that permits large-scale, captive-lion farming and that has an annual quota for the legal export of lion bones (and that more are actually illegally smuggled to the Far East).
One ray of hope in the operation is that Simba, the lion it was named after and which was born in captivity to be hunted – has been rescued and was released on Saturday into a secret location!
WATCH the horrors of “lion farming” in South Africa – WARNING: distressing content
Read Lord Ashcroft’s original article here. View his new website here: www.LordAshcroftWildlife.com