Walking with lions
Since 1997 when the Cooke Report first screened a horrific documentary in the United Kingdom about the hunting of captive lions in South Africa the country has found new horrific ways to continue the exploitation of the King of the Beasts. Nature Conservation Departments seems disinterested to ensure the ethical treatment of lions and continue to issue permits to expand an industry that has perfected the exploitation of a majestic creature and icon.
Tourism is big business in South Africa and as the industry expands and more and more tourists arrive “Walking with lions” is at the order of the day and permits to conduct such walking excursions have been issued to numerous lodges, hotels and private game farms. One only has to use popular internet search engines and type in “walking with lions” to see how many such establishments have mushroomed out of control in South Africa.
You may ask what is wrong with walking with lions? The animals are not “harmed” and are not hunted. Sadly this is exactly the type of response that the owners of such establishments are banking on. The ignorance of tourists or visitors is exactly what they are hoping for. However not everyone can be fooled all of the time. In this instance logic is the best cautionary principle to apply. In order to prepare lions so that they will accept humans as their walking companions cubs are forcefully removed off their mothers at various captive lion breeding projects. Such cubs are then sold to their new owners that normally hand raise them and interact with them intensively to get the animals totally habituated and accustomed to people. Sadly lions grow up and as they grow up they are no longer suitable (or safe) to accompany humans on long walks. As much as some people would like to ignore the fact that lions are wild animals and remain unpredictable; lions are wild creatures and there will be a day and time when a lion could attack and kill a person.
Owners of “walking with lions” establishments are taking huge risks with the lives and safety of members of the public and in many cases try to minimize the risk by selling off lions when they become unsuitable for use or show any signs of aggression. In many instances such lions are then “moved along” into breeding camps to produce new cubs that will subsequently hand raised and trained for walking with lions.
Many of the lions used in the past for “walking with lion” excursions have ended up on hunting farms where they are offered to rich trophy hunters by unethical hunting outfitters.