The Horror Of Canned Lion Hunting And What You Can Do To Stop It

I’m not much of an activist. I’ve never been one to leave a warm house for a cold street, holding signs or marching, but on Saturday, March 15, I’ll be doing just that.

I am taking part in the Global March For Lions to stop canned hunting in South Africa. People in 55 (now 60!) cities around the world will march in hopes of raising awareness and educating people on ways they can help stop this barbaric act. (See below for ways you can help.)

The event in New York City begins at 11am in Washington Square Park.

If you follow this blog or have enjoyed my pictures over the last couple of years, you know that I have a deep love for Africa and its magnificent wildlife. So when I hear about practices like canned lion hunting, my rage is so intense it’s hard for me to think clearly.

I’m not suggesting that this is the only danger threatening the survival of lions, or other species for that matter, in fact there are so many things it’s a bit overwhelming, but I find the fact that canned hunting is a legal practice particularly egregious.

Canned Hunting

For those of you not familiar with canned hunting, it’s where lions are raised in captivity and first used as a tourist attraction (think petting zoo), and then when they’re older they’re released into fenced areas, with no chance of escape, to be killed by hunters safely ensconced in jeeps wielding high-powered guns or cross bows. To add salt to the wound (no pun intended), most of these hunters don’t go for the quick kill (ie. in the head), because it will ruin their pretty trophy, often resulting in a lion’s slow and painful death. Nice, right?

Canned Lion
Photo: CACH website

I can’t fathom this on so many fronts, but what I really have a hard time understanding is how some people get up in the morning excited to kill something just for the fun of it.

I find it hard to comprehend how they not only condone this fish-in-a-barrel scenario, they want to participate.

I also find it hard to stomach the selfie’s you see all over the internet of these hunters kneeling over their kills with smiles from ear to ear as if they’ve just won the lotto.

What does that glee represent?  Do they pat themselves on the back as if they’re victors in some kind of genuine mortal combat?

Seems to me that if a two year-old had the money and a gun, it could kill a lion this way too since the poor animal has no chance of making it out alive.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re genuinely feeding yourself and your family by hunting game – and I don’t mean one Saturday night usually spent at Applebees – then your hunting gets a pass in my book. But canned lion hunting is hardly a survival strategy, it’s a sick and twisted business that should be abolished.

The Guardian reported that there were more lions held in captivity in South Africa than exist in the wild. Hello?! Does anybody see a problem with that? I sure do.

The article also states that lion breeders defend their farms by saying that they support conservation efforts. However, lion populations continue to decrease so I am not sure that argument holds water. When hunters use conservation as a reason for killing, I want to scream.

You may ask yourself what are the economic incentives for this practice. I’ve discussed one revenue stream: hunters who are willing to pay serious money for the pleasure. But lion farmers also make good money supplying lion parts to the Far East for use in traditional Asian medicine. (Side note: this demand also provides incentive to poachers who threaten the survival of African elephants and rhino.) The hunter takes home the trophy’s head, and rest of the body is sold to various countries in Asia. Lovely.

Two organizations fighting the battle

Two wonderful organizations that are working tirelessly to bring an end to canned hunting are Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH), and Roar for a Cause, both based in South Africa. The former actively seeks to reduce the revenue streams that motivate the lion farmers, while the latter, created by Christine Jordan, a single mom from Durban, SA, created the Global March for Lions to support the efforts of the CACH, and other organizations like it.

For a good overview of the issues, plus what actions are being taken, please take a few minutes to watch this video with Chris Mercer, the director of the CACH.

Ways you can help

  1. Get the word out. Share this piece or links from the organizations above on your social media channels multiple times. Use the hashtag #GlobalMarch4Lions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  2. March with us on the 15! To find out about locations near you click here.
  3. For Americans: since 55% of canned lion hunters are from the United States, the Global March will have petitions you can sign to help pressure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the African lion as endangered. Doing so will make it illegal for hunters to bring back “trophies” to the U.S.A., effectively reducing the number of participants and limiting revenues. If a march is taking place in your city and you can’t take part, you can still help by taking a moment to stop by the route and sign a petition. UPDATED: Here’s a link so that you can sign the petition online.
  4. If you’re headed to South Africa don’t participate in cub petting or lion walking tourist attractions, and please don’t volunteer to take care of lion cubs. Lion farmers use these activities as a way to earn money to offset the cost of raising their captives.
Hunter selfies
Hunter selfies… I can’t.

12 thoughts on “The Horror Of Canned Lion Hunting And What You Can Do To Stop It

  1. Alison says:

    I hate all those people who kill wild life. The poor animals did nothing!! If I could be there, I would kick their behind until I get tired! Uuggghhh. What can we do to stop that?!

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      I couldn’t agree more Alison! It makes me ill.

      What can you do? You’re doing the first and most important thing. You’re taking time to acknowledge and read about it. Get the word out. Share the article if you can. Donate to an organization you feel is doing a good job. Those are all a great ways to start. 🙂

  2. Cassie says:

    Wow, this is terrible! I had no idea this happened. I knew of hunters hunting farm bred boar and antelope, but not big cats. Awful! I signed the petition and will share.

  3. Nancy Moon says:

    Susan, wonderful blog about a very important issue. This is so horrific, I’m not in town otherwise I would have been there. I met someone the other day that said “Oh you have to meet xyz, she goes to Africa too, she is a hunter” and it’s like what? Folks are really naive and just don’t know what’s really going on, egads.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      Thank you, Nancy.

      I can’t begin to relate to the motivations of a hunter. It makes no sense to me and no matter what their excuse, it still comes down to this for me: They like to kill things. It’s not something I’ll ever understand.

  4. Arabesque says:

    Very noble, let’s not forget abou the millions of animals that are mass produced and killed every year to feed a selfish desire to eat meat and dairy. Because if it is cruel to kill a lion it’s equally cruel to kill a pig or a cow, and selfish because this insatiable appetite for animal products is not doing the planet a favour, nor the future generations. It’s important to see the whole picture.

    • Susan Portnoy says:

      What city are you in Anders? I will check. And don’t worry, I’ll have a follow up here and for sure on FB and Instagram. Thanks for the note and it’ll be my pleasure to march for you too! 🙂

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