Article on 10 August 2020 for Aviation, Travel & Conservation News from Africa & the Indian Ocean islands in association with Brussels Airlines.
CANNED LION HUNTING COMES UNDER RENEWED FIRE AS LORD ASHCROFT PUBLISHES HIS BOOK.
South Africa has long been regarded as a conservation champion and a nation deeply committed to the ongoing protection of its wilderness areas and the iconic wildlife species that call them home. However, these are challenging times for the “Rainbow Nation” as its game reserves and national parks battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown that has devastated valuable revenue streams derived from eco-tourism.
The country’s conservation agencies and non-profit organisations are also fighting a war on a different front against a government whose policies and agendas are consistently undermining efforts to curb the illegal wildlife trade, sullying its international reputation in the process. This is nowhere more evident than in the controversial and deeply abhorrent captive lion breeding industry that exploits up to 12,000 “farmed” lions for the purposes of feeding the heinous canned hunting sector and equally disturbing and burgeoning trade in lion bones.
Once again in the spotlight thanks to “Unfair Game” – a new book by former British peer and philanthropist Lord Michael Ashcroft that’s released in South Africa on 15 July in time for the country’s Mandela Day celebrations, this disgusting industry continues to disgrace South Africa internationally with its appalling levels of cruelty and commercial exploitation of Africa’s apex predator, popularised the world over in Disney’s “Lion King” franchise.
All royalties from the book are going to wildlife charities in South Africa.
Sadly, when it comes to South Africa, “Simba” and his friends are in a world of trouble, as Lord Ashcroft points out in the book that highlights his year-long investigation into the dark and dangerous world of the captive-bred lion industry. It’s a sickening trade that unwittingly involves the tourism and volunteering industries, with international travellers from across the world duped into believing that activities such as lion cub petting, walking with lions and volunteering at lion “sanctuaries” (in actual fact breeding farms) are somehow contributing to the conservation of lions in the wild.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The lions are bred commercially, with cubs being removed from their mothers after only a few days, triggering the lionesses into a forced oestrus that makes them ready for breeding again. The cubs are hand-reared, being used in cub petting activities in which tourists pay considerable amounts of money to cuddle them and pose for “selfies”. When they become too big for this activity they are used in “walking with lions” experiences, again for high-paying tourists, before being sold to canned hunting farms to be shot by equally high-paying international hunters who “book” their lions online.
Death does not end the degradation for South Africa’s captive lions, with their butchered carcasses sent in their hundreds to the Far East for use in ‘traditional’ Chinese medicine. It’s a cycle of cruelty fuelled by incredible greed for the billions of Rands it makes a small, select cabal of farmers, breeders and hunters.
Unfair Game exposes every aspect of this evil business and poses a huge conundrum in this time of COVID-19 by highlighting the increasing dangers to public health which lions and their body parts pose which experts predict could spark another major, global health crisis. It also illustrates the way in which the South African Government has enabled this awful industry, raising questions of corruption and the capture of state conservation and policing agencies and their leading officials.
Coming at a time when the rest of the world is moving away from animal exploitation, according rights and sentient status to rare and endangered species, Unfair Game is an indication of how South Africa stands to be ostracised and pilloried for its shocking disregard for this most iconic of animals.
The book was officially launched in South Africa on 15th of July 2020 and will be available at a cost of R275.00 at all leading book shops and online.
Read this article on ATCNews.org
For more information, visit:LordAshcroftWildlife.com