Oct 312016

Some 8,000 lions bred for the sole purpose of being hunted are kept on game ranches in South Africa. Every year thousands of hunters – mostly Americans – pay handsomely to kill these lions within the confines of walls and fences, a practice known as canned lion hunting.

But starting today they’ll no longer be allowed to bring back the heads, skins, claws, teeth, and other lion parts from those kills.

On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a ban on the import of trophies taken from captive-bred lions in South Africa.

US TV personality Melissa Bachman posted pictures of a lion she killed in South Africa on Facebook, sparking outrage.

Seventy percent of South Africa’s lions spend their lives in captivity. Lion breeding, trophy hunting, and increasingly lion bone trading, are tightly interlinked ventures. Photograph by Ian Michler

Conservationists, animal welfare advocates, and even many hunters are cheering the decision.

“This is huge,” says Ian Michler, a conservationist and the narrator of Blood Lions, a documentary released last year that exposed the canned lion industry.

“If we can start seriously clamping down on the demand side, then it will impact things here in south Africa.”

Captive-bred lions serve no conservation purpose because hand-reared lions cannot be released into the wild, according to wildlife experts. They also often suffer in captivity.

Many hunters say canned hunting violates the principle of “fair chase,” in which every animal has a reasonable chance to get away. It’s what separates hunting from killing, says the Boone and Crockett Club, a U.S.-based hunting organization.

Lions have declined precipitously in the wild, down from an estimated 200,000 continent-wide a century ago to about 20,000 today. Habitat loss, prey depletion, and greater conflict with humans account for most of this loss, but conservationists argue that trophy hunting of wild lions contributes to the decline.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision was based on last year’s decision to add lions to the the Endangered Species Act list. That meant that as of January 22, 2016, hunters could only import trophies from captive and wild lions if the country where the hunt takes place can prove hunting revenue goes toward conservation.

“Our decision to prohibit such imports is based solely on our evaluation of the conservation benefits of captive lion hunts,” wrote Dan Ashe, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, in a Huffington Post blog. “In the case of lions taken from captive populations in South Africa, that burden of proof has not been met.”

The new import rules come on the heels of a vote at the conference for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the treaty that governs wildlife trade, that gave wild lions new protections from international trade but failed to extend them to captive-bred lions. The new protections mean wild lions can still be hunted, but it is illegal to buy and sell their bones, teeth, and claws.

After Blood Lions premiered, Australia and France banned the import of captive and wild lion trophies, and South Africa’s hunting association, which long had sided with the canned hunting industry, voted to disassociate itself from the industry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to allow the import of some trophies from wild lions because it says well-managed trophy hunting supports conservation efforts.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that import permits must reflect whether a trophy is from a wild or captive-bred lion, and that if their inspectors have any doubts about the origin, they’ll reach out to their counterparts in South Africa to confirm.

This article was first published by National Geographic on 21 Oct 2016.

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Why do we keep on asking this question – we come up with the same answer over and over again. We do not want to see this happening. How does one justify breeding wild animals, keep them in captivity (sometimes under poor conditions) and get them ‘hunted’ so the money paid can go for conservation… IT DOES NOT GO TO CONSERVATION but into the pockets of these cruel owners.


Also to justify hunting for money for conservation is perverted logic. Humans need to prioritize paying to save animals without using hunt blood money. I will pay more taxes to save animals.


Canned hunting is patently barbaric and has no place in modern society. Humans must stop thinking it is justifiable to kill precious wild animals for sick entertainment. Why do the 99.9 percent who would never kill a big cat let the minority few sickos kill cats? We are pitiful society that allows this. Period

Sharon brink

Growing animals just to kill them is perverse. What kind of person enjoys killing? Does not seem be a behaviour that any person could be proud of. Yet we do that every time we eat a meal too. Humans do have a lot of blood on their hands!

M Leybra
U.S. F&W never comes quite clean. They now “continue to allow the import of ‘some’ trophies from wild lions bc it says well-managed trophy hunting supports conservation efforts?” They also say, “that import permits must reflect whether a trophy is from a wild or captive-bred lion & that if their inspectors have any doubts about the origin, they’ll reach out to their (counterparts ?) in South Africa to confirm.” Thus leaving the usual big fat LOOPHOLE since greed & money ‘talks’ & any human being is left free to confirm or deny anything. Either they, So. Africa & humanity cares… Read more »
Marilyn marilyn


Ellena Linsky

Even though the U.S. may ban the shipping of animals or animal parts to the U.S., what prevents those “hunters” from shipping first to other countries and then shipping from them to the U.S.? It may be more costly, but apparently money isn’t a factor with these creeps.


Canned hunting of lions is barbaric and for the lowlife of man. Anyone who can raise a lion hand feed them and than put them out in a canned hunt is beyond human. These people are the trash of the world and should be treated as such. The hunters (killers not really hunters) are the worse. I have no use for them and can not understand what make-up in their DNA that they enjoy killing a live animal in this manner. Get rid of them all, close it all down.

if you want to hunt, build a time machine and go back to the stone age!!!!!!

People at their worst!

Why aren’t “lion farms” just completely banned and be done with it? This is another example of how two-faced politics and politicians can be.

M Leybra

You know why, animal blood worth it’s weight in gold to the Govt. (who gets it’s cut) of land where a animals happen to exist & only that Govt. can ban it.

Mark McCandlish

I can’t find the words to adequately express my disgust for the idea of “canned lion hunts”. Where’s the “sport” these jackasses claim they are so devoted to? There isn’t any. This is little more than shooting fish in a barrel with a bow and arrow. The Fish & Wildlife Service has my appreciation for this decision.


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