Canned hunting is the hunting of wild animals, mostly lions, in a confined area from which they cannot escape. In South Africa, it is not only legal, it is flourishing. 8,000 or more captive-bred lions and other predators languish in around 250 breeding facilities, where they are exploited for profit at every stage of their lives. Unwitting paying volunteers are recruited to help hand raise captive-bred lion cubs, on the false premise that they will be released into the wild as part of a lion conservation initiative. Tourists pay to take selfies while petting cute cubs or walking with lions. Ultimately many of the animals will be transferred to canned hunting facilities to be shot by paying trophy hunters, and their bones and other body parts will be sold into local and international trade.
The animals involved are habituated to people from an early age, often through being hand-reared and bottle-fed, so they are no longer naturally fearful of people, making them easy targets for a rifle or bow when it comes to the hunt.
The international community has called on South Africa to shut down its canned hunting and commercial predator breeding industry, many hunting organisations condemn the practice, and even the South African government recognises that the industry makes no contribution to wildlife conservation and is entirely profit-driven. Yet the government continues to support the growth of this heinous industry, which has close connections to international wildlife trafficking and other cruel industries such as donkey farming, and puts wild lions and other cats at increased risk from poachers seeking to launder their bones and other body parts into trade.
Born Free believes that if South Africa is to be regarded as a responsible and ethical custodian of its wildlife, and a country that cares about wildlife elsewhere in Africa and across the globe, urgent action needs to be taken to bring an end, in an intelligent and humane way, to the captive breeding and canned hunting of lions, and the sale of their bones and skeletons into international markets.