Mail and Guardian

Activists and lion breeders are again at odds over “canned” hunting – legal in SA – which some argue is no more unethical than farming chickens.

Desktop activists have joined conservationists to raise awareness about the growing demand for lion bones from users of traditional Chinese medicine, but breeders have defended the right to hunt lions born in captivity.

Last week, the online activist organisation launched a petition imploring President Jacob Zuma to ban the trade of lion bones. “As citizens from around the world with great respect for South Africa and its magnificent natural heritage, we appeal to you to ban the cruel and senseless trade in lion bones and organs, which is encouraging an industry that could drive lions to the brink of extinction,” says the petition, which garnered over 630 000 signatures in a week.

Lion bones are a sought-after ingredient used to make lion bone wine, a substitute for the traditional Asian cure-all, tiger bone wine, which fetches up to R250 000 a case at illicit auctions.

Conservationists have warned that captive breeding and canned hunting programmes in South Africa are providing a source for the lion bone trade.


Quenching a thirst for lion bones

African lions under threat from the American hunter
‘Canned lion hunting is like fishing with dynamite’
Plans to can ‘canned’ lion hunts

Canned lion hunting is legal in South Africa, as is the exporting of lion carcasses. Lion populations across Africa have been reduced by 90% over the past 50 years, but lion breeders say their operations have nothing to do with the continent’s wild populations.
The price of trophies
Breeders can benefit financially a number of times from the same lion. Cubs are often rented as tourist attractions and visitors pay to pet and interact with them. The fee paid by visitors is then fed back into captive breeding programmes. As adults, the lions are sold to hunters in canned hunting arrangements.

Farmers and hunting operators charge in the region of about $20 000 (R160 000) as a “trophy price” and hunters can expect to pay around $18 000 (R145 000) for other services, excluding taxidermy.

But the hunters are only interested in the head and skin of the lion, and often leave the bones with the breeder, who can then sell the bones, with a government permit. Read more…