The South African captive lion breeding industry find new and ingenious ways every day to exploit lions. A very popular way to do so is to lure mainly international young people to volunteer in South Africa and help raise and care for lion cubs that will be supposedly returned to the wild. This industry along with the intensive handling of lion cubs for photographic opportunities have become know as “animal pimping.
It is not just lion cubs that are exploited in this manner, but various other large and small predator cubs as well. South Africa has numerous “petting parks” and breeding facilities that supply cubs to the pet trade.
Those that promotes these unethical practises claim that: “It’s a must-do tourist attraction and every year thousands of people visit facilities where they can hug a cub – South Africa’s latest plaything. ‘We play with them, they keep us amused and we keep them amused.’
What most volunteers do not realise is that the beautiful little cubs they mistakenly believe they are hand rearing for conservation purposes and release back to the wild is more likely to end up as a hunters trophy or to be butchered to supply a growing demand for lions bones to the east asian markets. Maybe some volunteers do know, but are simply as cruel as the volunteer projects owners and really do not care what actually happen to the lion cubs on the long-term as long as they get the short-term opportunity to play with the young animals.
Hundreds of South African lions are being slaughtered to make bogus sex potions for men in Asia. But a global public campaign can stop this cruel trade by hitting the government where it hurts — the tourism industry.
A ban on tiger bone sales has traders hunting a new prize — the majestic lions. Lions are farmed under appalling conditions for “canned hunting”, where rich tourists pay thousands to shoot them through fences. Now experts say lion bones from these killing farms are being exported to phony ‘medicine’ makers in Asia for record profits. Trade is exploding and experts fear that as prices rise, even wild lions — with only 20,000 left in Africa — will come under poaching attack.
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.
International lobby group Avaaz has announced that is taking legal action against ACSA and Primedia after the removal of advertisements featuring Jacob Zuma’s face from the international arrivals hall at OR Tambo airport. Avaaz argues that there is a freedom-of-expression issue at stake as well as a contractual obligation to display the ads. REBECCA DAVIS investigates.
The image of President Jacob Zuma is at the centre of a freedom of expression storm again – but this time it is more than 700 000 internet activists who are offended after the Airports Company of South Africa this week buckled under pressure to remove advertising posters calling on Zuma to stop a burgeoning international trade in lion bones.
The advertising campaign – paid for by the 15 million member strong internet NGO Avaaz – focused on a poster collage of the president’s face with an image of a lion being executed.
A new ad campaign is underway in South Africa to stop the country’s lion bone trade. Lions are killed so their bones can be used to make fake aphrodisiacs and traditional medicines. The demand for the bones is growing in Asia as tigers become scarce. The campaign’s been launched by Avaaz – a group describing itself as a global web movement, whose name means “voice” in several languages.