Bites at Animal Planet

14 Mar

Ricky Gervais ROARS Against Canned Hunting - and So Can You

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Ricky isn't the only one roaring about this issue. Join thousands across the globe (myself included) this Saturday, March 15 as activists march to draw attention to the cruel, but perfectly legal, practice of canned lion hunting in South Africa. Unfamiliar with this practice? It's been outlawed in many places, including 20 states, but is still abundant in South Africa. It's a form of hunting that limits the animal's ability for a "fair chase" since it's kept in an enclosed area in order to make it easier for the hunter to come home with a "trophy." Essentially, hunters are guaranteed a kill since the animal is unable to escape.

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Lion breeders argue  that it’s better to shoot captive-bred lions than the dwindling population of wild lions. However, in the last 20 years the number of wild lions has declined by 80 percent. This suggests that the argument for canned hunting in order to protect wild lions is invalid.

In fact, the lion breeding industry has become much like the industrial livestock industry. In many case, lions are a factory-farmed commodity and live in equally inhumane conditions. Many new-born cubs are removed from mothers so the lionesses can quickly be bred again, which, in turn, gives the breeder a chance for larger profits. All those hungry, allegedly “orphaned” cubs cost a significant amount of money to keep alive. That’s where well-meaning, unsuspecting tourists come in. Income is generated from a number of pay-to-play schemes: cub-petting, photography and the increasingly popular—walk with a lion cub who will “someday be released into the wild."

Lion cub drinking.crop_0058

The truth is, once the male cubs are 3-4 years and when females can no longer produce cubs, many are sold to canned hunting operators. For those sold to the canned hunting operations, they will will be killed by any number of means - none of which is the most humane one. No one wants a trophy with a hole in it.

After the head goes home with the hunter, in many cases the rest of the lion is sold for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is usually mislabeled as tiger parts. Since tigers have been nearly wiped out lions are substituted. The demand is incredibly high as many still mistakenly believe the myth that tiger parts can cure diseases.   

Blackmaned lion.cropSaturday March 15th is the first ever Global March for Lions taking place in 62 cities around the world. #GlobalMarch4Lions. Come out and ROAR with us!  Click here to find a city near you:

Photos of wild lions by Beth Stewart.

Beth Stewart is an Associate Creative Director for Animal Planet. She spends most of her spare time volunteering with animals, photographing animals, advocating for animals and generally being wrapped around her two cats’ little paws.

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