Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lion Hunting Industry Flourishes

It amazes me how I hear about species whose very existence is being endangered, but at the same time, individual members are being held in captivity and their live are basically "throw-aways." Examples include the chimpanzees being used for experimentation, elephants in circuses, and, now, lions for trophy hunters.

Trophy hunters are the worst to me. They don't need the kill, they don't eat it, they don't respect it and, most of the time, they don't even really hunt it. These "trophys" are often just the result of the "hunter" having the kill when the animal has already been tracked and caught by a professional. Or they are in a small enclosure, aka the "canned" hunt.

A trophy for cowardice I say. Or to boost some low testosterone levels.

But the industry heads believe they are protecting the lions from African farmers killing them and helping the economy at the same time. See what's happening in South Africa.

South African breeding operations...provided more than 300 lions for trophy hunters to stalk and kill last year, and are part of an industry that brought 1 billion rand ($146 million) into the economy. The farms have also sparked outrage from animal rights groups who say they permit ``canned hunting,'' where marksmen kill lions in small enclosures with no chance to escape.

Starting Feb. 1, South Africa will require that lions roam free for two years before they are hunted. Breeders say the rules will destroy the industry and force them to slaughter many of the 5,000 captive-bred cats. Game farms can't afford to have the lions hunting their other animals for such a long period, and there isn't enough room for them in the wild.

``The moment we can't hunt them they'll have no value,'' says Wouter Pienaar, owner of Bloemfontein-based Shot Productions Ltd., which films hunts for tourists. The farmers ``are just going to start killing them.''

Advocates of the new law say it will let lions adapt to the wild before they are killed, allowing for a fair chase.

``We are putting an end, once and for all, to the reprehensible practice of canned hunting,'' Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's environment minister, said in a February statement. ``We will not allow our achievements to be undermined by unethical and rogue practices.''

Photo by joriepollak.

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