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Saturday, 25 July 2015

BLOOD LIONS: BLOWING OPEN THE #CANNED #LION HUNTING INDUSTRY

Last Thursday I went to the premier of a courageous, powerful and profoundly disturbing movie, BLOOD LIONS (www.bloodlions.org). The film lifts the lid on and challenges the multi-billion rand lion breeding and hunting industry in South Africa.

Canned lion hunting has been in and out of the news for some years, but this film exposes the huge extent of the practice, the size of the industry and just how grubby it really is. A few interesting facts I learnt:

  • We only have 2,500 lions left in the wild, 2,000 of which are diseased (e.g. feline AIDS and TB). So the maths is 500 healthy wild lions left
  • To put this in context, the number of endangered black rhino left is 3,500
  • There are up to 8,000 predators (7,000 of which are lions) which have been bred in captivity on about 200 different farms around South Africa, all waiting to be shot by hunters in unethical circumstances or by businessman who export the, bones, pelts, stuffed trophies and so on
  • The breeding conditions are grim, squalid and in-humane, with cubs (which usually suckle for 18-24 months) being taken from their mothers within 1-2 weeks so that the mothers can start breeding again immediately after giving birth
  • Inter-breeding is causing genetic defects and destroying the gene pool
  • Any pretence that any of this is to support conservation is a joke
  • Botswana (whose Minister of the Environment, Mr Tshekedi Khama II attended the premier) has banned all hunting and Australia has banned the import of trophies in an effort to help stop the practice
  • The South African government condones the practice and has done nothing

The film was produced by our friend, Pippa Hankinson, who has been involved in conservation efforts for many years. She was inspired to produce it after visiting a lion breeding camp 4 years ago and being so appalled and upset by what she saw that she made a decision to take a stand to rid the world of this unethical and sickening industry. She found some people willing to help her and created a film production company. What I love about her process was that, faced with a seemingly impossible task of challenging this huge and murky industry, instead of cowering and retreating, Pippa was able to draw on her courage and channel her anger into this creative act.

As a measure of her determination, after receiving a standing ovation for the film I heard her say she could take no credit for it unless it leads to the end of the canned lion business.

I think that what she has done with the support of her team - Ian Michler, Nick Chevalier, Bruce Young, Dr Andrew Venter, Jeremy Nathan, Rick Swazey and Dave Cohen, to name a few, is nothing short of heroic. It takes a special act of passion and courage to stand up for what you believe in when there are threatening circumstances involved.

I don't often ask for my posts to be shared, but this time I ask that you share it on Facebook and Twitter, using the icons below. If you want to support Pippa on her quest, please follow www.bloodlions.com on Facebook and Twitter. Also read the FAQ's on the website to understand what this industry is really about.

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