We have a sad reality here on the planet, open range is dwindling, limiting the habitat of our animal cousins, wildlife. That means, more and more, hunting is basically killing in captivity. It’s no secret, I don’t like hunting. Trophy hunting and poaching are beyond anything I can comprehend. Yet, no matter how Pollyanna I try to be, it still exists. I recently watched “Blood Lions” and the horror stories I have heard were shaped into a reality for me that is worse than I thought. It’s the story of the ‘canned hunting’ industry.
Basically, most trophy hunting of lions is killing domesticated animals. Much of South Africa is fenced, so it seems like all of hunting is basically murdering a beloved in someone’s yard.
Below is the abridged version, in case you don’t know about the canned hunting industry. It’s okay, most people don’t, which is why I’m writing about this grim topic.
Baby lions are born and immediately taken away from their mothers at 3-10 days. These beautiful babies, crying for their mothers are bottle fed by “volunteers” (people who voluntarily come over to help, not realizing the full operation of the camp). They are cuddled and fawned over. The mother meanwhile goes straight into estrus and is pregnant again, in no time.
As the baby lion matures, they are part of a “walk with the lions” program. Basically, the lions are handled by trainers that have meat on the end of a stick to prevent the lions from doing anything crazy, all the while the lions are expected to sit for selfies and photos.
Then the lions get moved to the next level, the trophy hunting category. Or the category of the lion bone trade for Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. (The Chinese banned the tiger bones because they were becoming extinct.) I always say, just because it is a tradition, it doesn’t make it right.
Basically, we are now in phase 3 of this lions life now. Let’s review from the lions point of view:
1. We’ve cuddled and loved humans as babies when our mom was taken away. While we are grieving, we adapt and because we don’t know any better, we are loving and dependent on our human caregivers. And we’re cute, so, so cute;
2. Now we’re older and a little surly but we can still walk with humans, we recognize humans provide all of our needs;
3. Okay, now we are set up to look over at our human friend that we are dependent upon as we are shot and killed so that they can have a trophy. Or so that they can have some ancient medicine.
“Until such a time as the voice of the lion is heard, history will be written to glorify the hunter.” African Proverb
The people that volunteer at these ‘farms’ actually believe they are doing the right thing to help these lions and are paying big money to be part of this. Often they are feeding things like cows milk or other types of milk (therefore exploiting more animals for these atrocities). And not considering the actual health of these lions.
The welfare of the lion doesn’t matter. At this point, these monster humans are making money off the volunteers, the ‘walk with the lion’ programs, the trophy hunting and/or the lion bone trade. There are approximately 6,000 of these animals in about 200 camps.
A hunter can get his/her lion within 3 days. Easy. Guaranteed. Each lion is worth at the very least, $20,000 to the human. All animals are priced, have a value, but especially lions. They have a big dollar sign on them. They are the apex predator.
And when the apex predator is extinct, it is the collapse of the planet, all of our ecosystems depend upon this cycle of life.
The delusional lie that hunters have the audacity to tell themselves is that as hunters, they are part of conservation. First of all, just in general, don’t get me started on that lie, I will spare you my excessive cussing here. But in truth, there is no connection between breeding animals to kill and conservation.
How did this come about in the last 20 years? Some say that because of the end of apartheid, an era of few human rights that is allegedly in recovery, they can’t fathom (or have brain space yet) the rights of animals. There is that belief that as a landowner, you can do what you want with your land. And it’s legal.
Sometimes we have to go into the minds of the humans to understand how this got out of control. While it’s a very dark place, most things are completely economic based. Broken down even further, is allowing killing an act of desperation due to extreme poverty or is it pure greed? When we have a little compassion for the human involved we can start to unwind it. And I’m not saying this is easy.
As long as there are consumers of these trophies or bones, this service will be provided. Unless, we do something about it.
There are plenty of worthy organizations we can join and donate to that are going after these ‘farms’. We can put pressure on these corrupt governments. We can put pressure on airlines that were carrying these “trophies”. We can educate that medicines are evolving and don’t have to include suffering (of lions, sun bears and MORE…) And we can continue to dialogue in order to create better, stronger answers.
I don’t know what the full answer is, I can only do what I can. Taking people on wildlife trips has been one of my ways to contribute to the economy over there. And the timing couldn’t be better with my outrage that I’m hosting the Linda Tucker workshop coming up here, The Thirteen Laws of Lionhearted Leadership on October 5th, 6th and 7th.
If you know of great, worthy organizations to end this horror, please mention in the comments below. Let’s share what we know and make it better for the lions and the planet.
For details on Linda Tucker’s Thirteen Laws of Lionhearted Leadership, click here.