Monday Moaning

Man is the only beast that kills for sport!

‘Canned hunting’: the lions bred for slaughter

Canned hunting is a fast-growing business in South Africa, where thousands of lions are being bred on farms to be shot by wealthy foreign trophy-hunters

Lions bred to be shot in South Africa's 'canned hunting' industry - image The Guardian

Lions bred to be shot in South Africa’s ‘canned hunting’ industry – image The Guardian

They are adorably cute, with grubby brown fur so soft it seems to slip through my fingers like flour. It is only when one of the nine-week-old cubs playfully grabs my arm with its teeth and squeezes with an agonising grip that I remember – this is a lion, a wild animal. These four cubs are not wild, however. They are kept in a small pen behind the Lion’s Den, a pub on a ranch in desolate countryside 75 miles south of Johannesburg. Tourists stop to pet them but most visitors do not venture over the hill, where the ranch has pens holding nearly 50 juvenile and fully-grown lions, and two tigers.

Moreson ranch is one of more than 160 such farms legally breeding big cats in South Africa. There are now more lions held in captivity (upwards of 5,000) in the country than live wild (about 2,000). While the owners of this ranch insist they do not hunt and kill their lions, animal welfare groups say most breeders sell their stock to be shot dead by wealthy trophy-hunters from Europe and North America, or for traditional medicine in Asia. The easy slaughter of animals in fenced areas is called “canned hunting”, perhaps because it’s rather like shooting fish in a barrel. A fully-grown, captive-bred lion is taken from its pen to an enclosed area where it wanders listlessly for some hours before being shot dead by a man with a shotgun, hand-gun or even a crossbow, standing safely on the back of a truck. forHe pays anything from £5,000 to £25,000, and it is all completely legal.

Like other tourists and daytrippers from Jo’burg, I pay a more modest £3.50 to hug the lions at Moreson, a game ranch which on its website invites tourists to come and enjoy the canned hunting of everything from pretty blesbok and springbok – South Africa’s national symbol – to lions and crocodiles. After a cuddle with the cubs, I go on a “game drive” through the 2,000 hectare estate. Herds of blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland run from the truck, then stop and watch us, warily: according to the guides, the animals seem to know when visitors are not carrying guns. At the far end of the property is an abandoned farm, surrounded by pens of lethargic-looking big cats. One pair mate in front of us. Two healthy looking tigers tear at chicken carcasses rapidly rotting in the African sun.

The animals look well cared for. But Cathleen Benade, a ranch assistant who is studying wildlife photography and is devoted to the cubs, reveals that they were taken away from their mothers just an hour after birth and bottle-fed by humans for the first eight weeks of their life. After dark, as the lions roar in the cages below the pub veranda, Maryke Van Der Merwe, the manager of Lion’s Den and daughter of the ranch owner, explains that if the cubs weren’t separated from their mother – by blowing a horn to scare the adult lion away – the young lions would starve to death, because their mother had no milk. She says the mother is not distressed: “She’s looking for the cubs for a few hours but it’s not like she’s sad. After a day or two I don’t think she remembered that she had cubs.”

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Opinion:

Nothing sickens me like this!

 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by smallftprints on June 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Really nasty!

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  2. Man has dominion over the animals, funny I always thought that meant to care and watch over them, not slaughter for sport like this.

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  3. No fun or skill in shooting animals, just aim and press the trigger.

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