Review Practice of Hunting Captive-Bred Lions in South Africa

Male African lion of the Transvaal subspecies in a Philadelphia Zoo-by-Mark Pellegrini

Target: The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs. Edna Molewa

Goal: Enforce stricter regulations on the hunting of captive bred lions to conserve South Africa’s lions.

Captive-bred lion hunting has been ongoing in South Africa for a while now, with critics claiming that lions bred in captivity are not scared of humans, and are, therefore, an easy target in confined areas. Amid growing public criticism, hunting operators in South Africa describe the industry as well regulated. The practice only raises animals for killing, and needs urgent reviewing.

The practice is an extreme form of trophy hunting, especially after the recent case of illegal shooting that killed one of Zimbabwe’s prominent lions, Cecil. Fresh scrutiny should be made on lion hunting in South Africa, especially at a time when poaching has significantly reduced the number of wildlife, including threatened species like elephants and rhinos.

Though South Africa has been successful in the conservation of wild lions, the practice has often been marked by irregularities. Such inconsistencies lead to the death of lions and significantly reduces the number of these endangered species. The time has come to review captive-bred lion hunting because the tide of public opinion is going strongly against this form of hunting.

Up to around 7,000 lions are behind bars in South Africa on private breeding farms and hunting reserves. Unfortunately, many of these animals are shot in ‘canned’ hunts, where they are pursued and killed in confined areas. The hunters eventually take lion heads and skins as trophies, while the bodies and bones are exported to other countries.

The trade in lion bone has continued to grow, implying that lionesses and trophy males continue to be given commercial value. This industry simply rears lions that are shot in cages or shipped to supply the enormous demand for their parts, hence nullifying the conservation argument that is commonly given by the industry’s advocates.

Sign this petition to support a review of the laws governing the hunting of captive-bred lions in South Africa.


Dear Mrs. Edna Molewa,

The international uproar over the killing of a lion in Zimbabwe comes amid an intensifying debate over the practice of captive-bred lion hunting in South Africa. The practice of hunting captive-bred lions is a form of extreme trophy hunting because captive lions are not afraid of people, making them easy targets in confined areas.

South Africa should stand up and regulate this growing industry to protect its lions from trophy hunters and greedy tourists. It is hard to imagine Africa without its famous and revered creature, the lion. The animal has traversed open space for centuries but can no longer roam because it is being held captive and hunted. Canned lion hunting is legal in South Africa and is becoming popular especially for trophy hunters who travel the continent to shoot big game.

The industry has thrived because it is under-regulated with hunters and conservation advocates arguing that it helps in conserving threatened species. Fresh scrutiny needs to be put on these form of hunting, especially at a time when poaching is substantially reducing wildlife. I hope you will take action towards this positive cause.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mark Pellegrini

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