POLL: Should lion canned hunting be banned in South Africa?

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International indignation over the canned hunting of lions in SA is growing, writes Martina Polley.

Lions are majestic animals, the alpha predators of the African bush. We think of them as roaming wild and free across the plains. But this is far from the reality.

South Africa has a population of about 2750 lions in national and private game reserves – and almost twice that number caged in pens.

Since 2007 the conservation spotlight has been focused on rhino poaching. But looming as large is the intensive breeding of lions and other predators for the hunter’s bullet.

These animals are being bred specifically to be shot in relatively confined or enclosed areas with little to no chance of escape. Canned hunting or ‘captive hunting’ as the breeders and hunters call it, is still legal in South Africa.

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

“In this day and age is it appropriate that we breed lions in cages and other confined enclosures so people can shoot them for fun?” asked Ian Michler, who has been researching and campaigning against these industries for over a decade.

When Michler started his research at the turn of this century, “there were 500-800 predators in cages in South Africa. Iin 2006 it was up to 3500 and now there is anywhere between 6000 to 8000 predators in confinement.” Most of these are lions.

Pieter Potgieter, chairman of the South African Predator Association said the breeding and hunting of captive- bred wildlife was acceptable, “an international practice in line with the principle of sustainable use of wildlife resources.”

According to Potgieter about 200 individuals and institutions have permits to keep and breed lions in South Africa. About half of them are members of the predator association.

Kendall Jones/Facebook

His views are supported by the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa.

“We have raised the bar higher than is needed,” said Adri Kitshoff, CEO of  the association in an April interview with Financial Mail. “Among standards set, a lion must be released at least seven days prior to a hunt in an enclosure of at least 1000ha.”

In 2012 about 617 lion were hunted for trophy purposes, with fewer than 10 estimated to be wild lions, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs.


Who is responsible for regulating the shooting of lions? No one it appears.

The department has said that “the hunting of captive-bred lions relates to an ethical matter that does not fall within the legislative mandate of the minister of environmental affairs.”

Michler said: “Other than provincial fencing requirements, there seem to be no rules or regulations governing canned lion hunting. That is why the government can wash their hands of it.”

Lions also don’t fall under the auspices of the NSPCA because they are not categorised as domestic animals. “Everyone can expolit them,” said Michler.

The department tried to put the brakes on the industry in 2005 by introducing legislation prescribing that captive bred lions had to be released into a wildlife system for 24 months before being hunted. The South African Predator Association – formerly the South African Predator Breeders Association took the then minister of environmental affairs, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, to court to challenge this. It lost the first round, but in 2010 the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in its favour on a technical issue.

Since that case the department has taken no further steps to address the breeding and hunting of lions.

Tourism professionals such as Colin Bell, co-author of Africa’s Finest, a listing of responsible and sustainable safari destinations, is concerned about the impact of the breeding industry on what he terms Brand South Africa. “Are we going to allow a small number of people to tarnish South Africa’s international reputation as a responsible tourism destination and have a negative impact on our international long-haul tourist arrivals?”

International indignation is growing. “The fact that it’s actually legal here . . .   this horrifies most international audiences,” said Michler who travelled to Europe and Australia this year to speak to governments about the practice.

Michler said  it was important to address the international community to try get it to become part of the solution. ”The killing is taking place in Africa, but the killers are coming from outside the continent,” he said.

The good news for predators and those opposed to these practices is that momentum is growing in the international community to ban the importation of lion trophies.

Greg Hunt, Australia’s environment minister, weighed in on the issue last month in a TV interview, saying: “It’s not fair, it’s not humane, it’s not 21st century. On my watch it’s not acceptable.”

Hunt said his government would consider a ban on the importation of lion parts and lion trophies into Australia.

Last month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The listing, if finalised, could also establish a permitting system for the importation of sport-hunted lion trophies, requiring that the lions originate from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for African lions.

We invite you to share your opinion whether “Lion Canned Hunting” should banned in South Africa. Please vote and also leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should "Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa" be stopped?

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Now that you’ve voted, please sign the petition:

Stop Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa

Don’t delay! Do it today.

This article was first published by ConservationAction.co.za on 09 Nov 2014.

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Patti Thompson

First of all I question the mentality of anyone who thinks its fun to kill any animal for sport. If you hunt for food thats one thing, but to kill for enjoyment? People have been put to death or given life in prison for the exact same thing. Whats the difference? People are in prison for paying to have another living being killed, and most of them spent far less than those that hunt wild animal. And canned hunts are the lowest form of hunting, in my opinion, there is. Breed animals for the purpose of killing them? Id love… Read more »

Fleur Assemaki

Please vone yes and share

Leigh Lofgren

There is no such thing as killing for sport? It is just an excuse by sick people and they are truly sick. This is utterly appalling and what is wrong with people? Another atrocity that must be stopped and soon.

Nitin Bhat

Of course it should be banned… what kind of sick minded people trying to show the bravery by killing exotic animals with a gun in hand? Those psychopaths who indulge in such act should be very severely punished. . My recommendation is, kill them on the spot like poachers

Urda Irene Drevland

i wish they could kill and destroy this man and woman who kill for fun…

Jocelyn F Koopmann

NO MORE HUNTING. That means NOW, yes from today on. Hunters have NO respect for animals. We don't respect them in anyway, you are SCUM.

Fifi LaRue

What kind of a poll is this? OF COURSE it should be stopped! ALL trophy hunting should be BANNED. And WHO are the 218 assholes who voted no???

Lizette 'Johnstone' Ord

All hunting should be banned!

Susan Holmes

Disgraceful, should all be closed down now.

Lukas Drożdz

Głupie jebane KURWY LUDZKIE !!!!!!

Terry Flavin

Sick Sad Oh So Brave Scum Hunting Down Beautiful Animals With Weapons! :@ These Animals Have Just No Chance Of Survival & Wonder If It Was The Family Of The Hunters Would It Be A Very Different Story! Hope These Bastards Suffer All The Time They Are On Earth Then Rot In Hell!

Renee Calpin

Absolutely all canned hunting should be shut down immediately Cecil's death awakened many people to the horrific lives of canned lion hunting in Africa Ban immediately

Irma Schuur

Disgusting

Michelle Discombe

It is disturbing to see the joy that people show when posing for a photo of brag after they have murdered a beautiful animal . Canned lion hunting is unethical and disturbing and must be stopped. It is the greed of mankind that drives the motivation

Jim Duke

They have undeniable rights too-the simple right to live, to co-exist with "humans" as was intended. Let Cecil the now very famous lion's death not be in vain. It is a barbaric "sport" perverse, sadistic "pastime" which has no place in the 21st centuary. Tourism brings far more revenue into a country than hunting ever did or ever will. It creates more job opportunites for locals as well. Money from hunting only benefits the elite few.—as for hunters bleating on about conservation–that is simply not the case. Walter Palmer is not the first to use unethical methods –but hopefully the… Read more »

Nina Stavlund

Just seeing these images disgusts me.

Amita Kanaujia

yes hunting should be strictly stopped

Jennie Wing

Mark Kirk I think people who care about animals should boycott anyplace including Yellowstone because of culls and hunting. It only seems to be $$$ governments understand and tourists should be putting their $$ where their mouth is and avoiding these places.

Barbara Mieirs

Oh I do so agree with Sue 100%.

Diane O'Brien

Animals have no voice, it is those of us that care that need to speak for them. They do not want to hunted, killed, chased for sport. They want a life just as you and I and deserve our respect

Joan Dabulewicz

Canned lion hunting is a greedy and ridiculous sport!! My suggestion is put the hunters into gamne reserves to survive with a bow and arrow and see if he/she can survive. Weapon only to be used in emergencies! Live in SA and know canned wildlife hunting is a great way to make money out of the rich and infamous!

Maelene Kane

These wretched women who hunt lions for the thrill of it, shame on you, how proud you must be, show your kids to, teach them the right values, you women make me sick 🙁 shame

Patricia Smith

Yes! Vote with our dollars/euros!

Patricia Smith

As I posted elsewhere, I also vote with my tourist dollars. I also see successes noted as a result of social media campaigns. So we use the "ammunition" that we have at our disposal.

Patricia Smith

Perhaps we "vote" with our tourist
dollars and euros. I won't visit a country that condones this practice, which is saddening, as I WOULD like to do so.

Soula Vaso Christos

How low can anyone go? Self appointed trophies are for the abnormal and low self-esteemed individuals who pay to claim their own. 'Look at me – I'm such a clever boy/girl'

Pauline Hodson

We're looking for life on Mars whilst destroying our life on Earth. These people who can kill without a thought are no use to the Human Race to survive. Killing and Destroying such beauty like this – to get a glamour photo is plain EVIL

Kerry Jerram

I just cannot comprehend how and why this practice continues, particularly when the current generation is, or should be, so aware of the threat we humans pose to the existence of these and other magnificent creatures, large and small, particularly in their natural habitat. The photos of the women smiling and so obviously proud of their kills is adhorrent and disgusting. How can anyone take joy in such senseless and unnecessary killing. And it makes me sick to think of how many shots, particularly with the bow and arrow, and how long it took for these beautiful creatures to die,… Read more »

Anne Grice

Only serial psychopathic killers would kill living breathing beings for pleasure! Such feelings of inadequacy is hard to handle so they kill soft drugged confined helpless lions instead of seeking psychiatric help! You are the human plagues infecting wild life! Life must really suck for you psychopaths! Trophies are for psychotic serial killers!

Virginia McIntyre
Virginia McIntyre

Hunting animals for the bloody sport of it and for culling should NEVER be allowed at any time.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Tina Louise Dobson Come on, if you really want to get hurt. See you know nothing of wildlife values.

Tina Louise Dobson
Tina Louise Dobson

EILEEN SLATER McDONALD, WELL SAID BUT IF THEY DONT WANT TO KILL EACH OTHER THEN LET ME DO IT, I'D LOVE TO KILL EACH AND EVERY ONE.

Be The Change You Want To See

Canned hunts are a PSYCHOPATHIC ABOMINATION!

Nancy O'Neal

Anyone who would find this enjoyable is a very evil, twisted individual and so are the ones allowing and profiting from this sin against all that is holy and born in the inferno of hell.

Jd Creager
Jd Creager

Many times I have posted pro hunting items with statistics as to why RSA lion hunting should continue. Why is it so moderator removes my post? The Mods cannot handle the truth.

Kelly Poyser

Sickening, disgusting and shocking that it's still allowed to happen. Shameful and needs stopping now!!

Manda Panda Moo
Manda Panda Moo

It's a no brained these people are very disturbed to even get satisfaction from killing these beautiful endangerd animals. Breeding an animal just to kill for the trophy. It's discusting behavior and abuse to these poor animals.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Courts cannot make laws from the bench or they should not. Corruption in Africa is like a freeway, going a a hundred miles per hour, then someone wrecks.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Wrong Jack S. Hinkle. You have never walk the bush stalking a lion, I have it is not like hunting fish in a barrel.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Jayne, the only reason these RSA lions are alive is to be hunted, thats why they were bred and born and raised.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Not even a drop in the bucket financially. The male lions brought way more money to RSA than what you spend in a year.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

Sorry goober, but lions are sure not defenseless. Even with archery death is not slow unless the shot is poorly placed.

Delbert Smith
Delbert Smith

I personally have hunted humans, but I never was able to eat my prey while doing that. Lions are delicious another white meat.

Jess Woods
Jess Woods

YES!! Hunting African lions, or any endangered animal for that matter, should absolutely be banned. How is this even a question?!?! The human race is so ignorant!!

Linda Wark
Linda Wark

I think for this website you are going to have an overwhelming amount of "Yes" votes. Kind of preaching to the choir here. African countries can ban this type of activity but the courts need to follow up. The question of how these changes happen is a much more complex, certainly not a yes/no one. Laws and bans are only as good as the courts willingness to uphold them and they need to display zero tolerance for corruption within government and start shifting their values around their unique wildlife & the environment the wildlife depend upon.

Claire sherman
Claire sherman

This isn’t sport. If there was no gun involved and these ‘repulsive people’ defeated the beautiful superior beast by shere strength alone, an equal fight…..that would be sport. A coward with a gun and a large stationary creature is nothing to feel proud about, no skill required!! Simply a lack of respect and far to much time & money on there hands that could be spent helping many in need organizations in the world. Have a decent reason to sit there with a smile on you face. Those that support & shoot such splendor are heartless, self centered, scum.

Pferdehilfe ImWienerwald
Pferdehilfe ImWienerwald

Dont you people see how sick this is what yoou do??!!! Are yoe you so sick that you must kill!!! Amd then innocent animals ….what a shame for the whole World!!!! You will get what deserve…no one does tings like that without a lesson…..

Paul Seligman
Paul Seligman

Melissa L Hollands Melissa L Hollands: I'm sorry if my English isn't clear to you. I looked again and there was a missing letter which converted an intended 'this' to 'his'. That may make it clearer. My last sentence, which you say is too long and confusing, has 10 words. As a former Quality Manger, who is pretty good at advising people on their written clarity, I don't need rescuing, thanks anyway!

Mary Boorman
Mary Boorman

I feel sorry for and pity those little girls and boys who are taught this crap – that hunting is thrilling and cool and really neat! If you want to catch something, go catch a bloody fish! You have been erroneously conditioned by our forefathers that this is perfectly fine by everyone and sorry honey but it ain't.

Mary Boorman
Mary Boorman

YES Michael I totally agree with you. We are fast approaching a new world order of things …. the nations must exert strongest pressure and penalties and we make nations so I believe it is up to us – hope is not a strategy. I know what I'm doing how about you?