12,000 Lions Are Being Bred In Captivity To Be Hunted By Tourists
Thousands of lions are being bred in captivity so they can be shot dead by tourists in Africa, Lord Ashcroft has revealed in a new book detailing the horrors of hunting.
The businessman and philanthropist travelled to the continent to investigate how many of the beautiful animals are being killed for these ‘canned hunts’ or for the bone trade.
In an excerpt of Unfair Game: An Exposé Of South Africa’s Captive-Bred Lion Industry, Ashcroft revealed there is now believed to be 12,000 captive-bred lions in South Africa alone, which is four times the number of wild lions.
Alongside his book, Ashcroft released a short film. Warning, this clip does contain some distressing scenes:
You can watch the full film here.
‘It is no exaggeration to say that the abuse of lions in South Africa has become an industry,’ he wrote in the excerpt which was published in the Daily Mail.
‘Thousands are bred on farms every year; they are torn away from their mothers when they are just days old, used as pawns in the tourist sector and then either killed in a ‘hunt’ or simply slaughtered for their bones and other body parts, which are very valuable in Asia’s so-called medicine market.’
Ashcroft explained that in the meantime they’re poorly fed, often kept in very small and cramped unhygienic living conditions, frequently drugged, and even beaten if they don’t perform for paying tourists.
‘This sinister system has sprouted up in plain sight in South Africa, inflicting misery on this most noble of beasts on an unimaginable scale,’ he continued.
‘My research suggests it is highly likely that there are now at least 12,000 captive-bred lions in the country, against a wild population of just 3,000. Yet, strikingly, just a small number of people – a few hundred – profit from this abusive set-up. Thanks to South Africa’s constitution and laws, they seem able to operate as they wish.’
As part of his investigation, Ashcroft commissioned two undercover operations: Operation Simba and Operation Chastise. Together, they found evidence these beautiful creatures are being bred in captivity and illegally killed using packs of dogs.
Ashcroft also warned the bone trade in South Africa is likely to lead to another public health crisis, potentially like ‘another coronavirus-style pandemic’.
Lion bones are heavily sought after in the Far East, where people believe they can be used in medicine or as an aphrodisiac and one lion’s carcass can be purchased for many thousands of pounds, before their bones are turned into cake or wine.
Ashcroft is now campaigning to get captive-bred farming banned in South Africa, with all the proceeds from his new book going to wildlife charities in the country.
‘Lion farming shames South Africa, a country that I have loved visiting for many years. It’s time to recognise that it is a cruel and barbaric industry which has no place in the 21st century,’ he said.
Unfair Game: An Exposé Of South Africa’s Captive-Bred Lion Industry comes out today, June 16.
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