Marchers join roar against canned lions industry

2014-03-18 00:00

ANIMAL lovers in Pietermaritzburg joined millions across the globe to “roar” for the lions by marching from the Showgrounds to the city hall on Saturday.

This exercise took place in 62 cities around the world.

A small group of people gathered together to join the worldwide march calling for an end to the canned lion industry that is prevalent in South Africa.

They had handed a memorandum to Mayor Chris Ndlela.

Organiser Gail Cornhill said canned lion hunting is a situation where the animal is unfairly prevented from escaping the hunter, either by physical restraints such as fences or by mental restraints, where the animal has been tamed and is habituated to humans.

“Lionesses are turned into breeding machines, producing countless litters of cubs for so called ‘petting zoos’, where humans are encouraged to handle the cubs — and in the vast majority of cases, the cubs are removed from their mothers soon after birth,” said Cornhill.

She said this cub petting gives rise to a host of issues.

“In many instances female cubs are slaughtered as they are not popular in the long term where a male lion trophy is far more lucrative than that of a female, and they are often interbred causing birth defects,” she said.

Cornhill said the petting zoos raise funds under a variety of guises — for food, for the privilege of handling the cubs, and finally when the cubs are too large to be petted they are then sold, or rented to the next phase of their poor lives — that of the “walking with lions” experience.

“Once they have matured and are handsome, trophy hunters move in to shoot them in small camps where the lions have no means of escape — the lions are also often drugged to make the hunt even easier,” said Cornhill.

She said: “Finally this majestic animal, the king of the animal kingdom, suffers the ignominy of having its head removed and mounted on a wall and the bones shipped to the East as aphrodisiacs.”

Cornhill said the largest culprits in the canned lion hunting industry are Americans who account for a staggering 55% of hunters in South Africa, and pay top dollar to the canned lion industry, in some instances as much as $25 000 (R269 400).

She said this money does not go into conservation and “we are left in a situation where we have fewer than 4 000 lions left in the wild in South Africa, but more than double that number are in captivity, bred for the bullet”.

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