Mail on Sunday serialisation of Lord Ashcroft’s new book, Unfair Game, published on 16 June 2020.

First published on 14 June 2020 in the Mail on Sunday.

It’s Born Free meets James Bond: The heart-stopping story of how Lord Ashcroft hired a crack team of ex-soldiers – using drones and military-grade tracking devices – to nail the criminals behind South Africa’s lucrative captive lion trade.

I CANNOT abide those who are cruel to animals, but the sad fact is that in our digital age, my strong aversion is aroused all too often. I have lost count of the number of people who post on social media platforms such as Twitter so-called ‘kill shots’ of themselves grinning at the camera (or, even worse, kissing their partner) alongside a beautiful animal they have recently slaughtered.

Revelling publicly in the death of a creature in this way is completely alien to me.

People may be brutal through ignorance or by taking shortcuts to save money, but South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry is conscious, intentional cruelty, sometimes carried out with or for pleasure. I cannot think about this without feeling a burning sense of shame. The question is: for how much longer will South Africa allow this industry to prosper?

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