Court nod for lion film

2015-12-03 11:49
A still from the movie Blood Lions, a documentary which follows South African conservationist Ian Michler and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to the lion-hunting industries.

A still from the movie Blood Lions, a documentary which follows South African conservationist Ian Michler and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to the lion-hunting industries. (supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg -A high court judge has given the green light for the continued screening of the documentary against canned lion hunting, Blood Lions.

Judge Fikile Mokgohloa said yesterday she has decided to dismiss an application by Zanchieta Animal Farm CC in Bloemfontein which was seeking an order aimed at halting the further screening of the film.

Zanchieta had also asked the court to order the film’s producers Regulus Vision in Hillcrest and the KZN Wildlands Conservation Trust, to ensure that images of lions taken at Zanchieta were not shown in the documentary, and that any images of its lions were removed from the Internet.

They also asked the film’s producers to publish an apology on the webpage, YouTube, in the magazine Noseweek and the Facebook page of “Volunteers in Africa Beware”.

Owner Lizette van Schalkwyk claimed the documentary was defamatory as a result of the “innuendo” it created that Zanchieta was involved in the canned hunting industry.

She alleged that Zanchieta was suffering financially as a result of being removed from the “list” of reserves to which agencies refer overseas volunteers to work with wildlife.

Zanchieta relies largely on funding from volunteers to survive.

Dismissing the application yesterday Judge Mokgohloa said she had decided to give her ruling with reasons to follow later, because of the urgency of the case.

She said her decision was based on the contents of the affidavits before court as well as last week’s legal arguments. She had also viewed the documentary.

According to replying papers by the producer of the documentary, Philippa Hankinson, it was imperative the documentary continued to be distributed to raise awareness about the exploitation of captive-bred lions in SA.

She said the edited version of the documentary that has so far been shown in South Africa features only two “seconds-long” images of two of Zanchieta’s lions without reference to Zanchieta. In other longer versions of the documentary, Zanchieta employee Jeana Gous’s denial that the farm was involved in the canned hunting industry was recorded and used.

However, the credentials of Zanchieta were questioned in the replying papers in terms of the alleged breeding and rearing of lion cubs in captivity based on other excerpts of the interview with Gous who stated:: “We don’t breed … we’ll maybe once every second year we will let her get a litter, but we do not breed because of the speculations and people saying you are just breeding for hunting. And we don’t …”

Hankinson also noted that the farm acted as a home to wild cats that could not be released back into the wild, and as a nursery for cubs brought to the farm by neighbouring breeders to be hand-raised before being relocated back into reserves. In “raw footage” not included in the documentary, Gous allegedly acknowledges that Zanchieta raised cubs for breeders which were later returned and sold; that one of the lionesses at Zanchieta gave birth to three white cubs, two of which were sold to a private reserve in Denmark, and talked about two servals that were sold or given to Letsatsi La Africa Game Lodge which had allegedly been linked to the bone trade and wildlife trafficking.

These allegations were denied by Gous and Van Schalkwyk. Gous either denied making the statements at all, or said they were taken out of context.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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