A filthy lion farm where beasts are crammed into cages full of poo then sold for trophy hunters to shoot them has been exposed.
Investigators claim to have seen 27 of the regal beasts losing their fur after being afflicted by mange.
Heartbroken witnesses also say they saw three cubs twitching in the dirt.
Douglas Wolhuter, senior inspector with South Africa’s NSPCA, described the scenes to National Geographic as “soul destroying”.
He said: “Ever since I’ve been a young kid, a lion has been known as the king of the jungle.
“And then you see it reduced to basically a farmed animal. You’ve removed everything regal and noble about the animal.”
The lions face an even worse fate if they survive conditions at Pienika Farm.When the animals are fully grown and too old to pet, they are sold to trophy hunters who pay up to $50,000 to hunt and kill them.
Hunters who butcher one of the animals are even allowed to keep their fur and the head as a trophy. Bones from the beasts carcass and other unwanted parts are exported and used in traditional medicines in Asia.
Representing Pienika owner Jan Steinman, lawyer Andreas Peens said he was promoting conservation by breeding lions specifically for them to be hunted.
He said: “We are providing a lion that’s bred for hunting purposes to prohibit poaching.”
The NSPCA has laid charges against Steinman in a bid to get his farm closed down. The case is still under review.
Steinman also owns another facility which breeds captive tigers for the same purposes.In 2015 he pleaded guilty to hunting four leopards in South Africa without a licence.
A spotlight has been shone on trophy hunting for animals including lions, as millions around the globe vent their fury at the barbaric practice.
A daughter even disowned her dad for posing next to the carcass of a dead lion he had slaughtered on a hunt.
Wildlife Richard Peirce previously told Daily Star Online how lions are being bred in captivity for tourists to cuddle as cubs, only to be slaughtered in later life.
He said: “You can pick a lion with a big mane and you fly out to South Africa and shoot it.”
This article was first published by The Daily Star on 22 November 2019.
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