Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Canned lion hunting

When thinking of South Africa I always imagine animals like lions and elephants roaming freely along the plains, happily going about their business. I was shocked to hear that this isn't always the case, I received an email from HSUS today informing me of the captive breeding of lions that are bred to supply the growing demand for canned lion hunting. Canned lion hunting allows a hunter (usually wealthy and from the US or Europe, it was also marketed to people attending World Cup matches) to effortlessly turn the lion into an exotic animal trophy.

South Africa has a financial interest in protecting and conserving their delightful wildlife as each year thousands of tourists descend for a glimpse of the fascinating animals. Little do they know that thousands of lions are kept under inhumane conditions to keep the canned hunts going. The lions are kept in small enclosures and are made to depend on humans which is completely unnatural.

A few years ago the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in South Africa issued regulations to ban the canned lion hunting operations, in turn the canned hunting industry appealed to the court which has brought things to a standstill until the case is heard later on this year. The Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk was very outspoken against canned hunting and stated "South Africa has a long-standing reputation as a global leader on conservation issues. We cannot allow our achievements to be undermined by rogue practices such as canned lion hunting." Marthinus is now the Minister of Tourism for South Africa and has the power to impact on the canned hunting industry through his new role.

In May this year, Marthinus launched the first National Tourism Sector Strategy calling for growth in responsible tourism, unfortunately the need to eliminate canned lion hunting was not mentioned despite this practice tainting the image of South Africa. The marketing of canned hunts to tourists needs to be eliminated in order for tourism to grow in a responsible way. The strategy currently states, "Its natural environment is one of South Africa's greatest tourism resources, and therefore there is a need for the tourism industry to be actively involved in conserving and protecting our natural environment." Lions are a part of the natural environment and a big draw for tourists but lion breeding farms and canned hunting operators provide no conservation benefits.

Please click on this link and enter your details in order to contact Marthinus and let him know that he should call for the elimination of inhumane activities like canned lion hunting because in the long run it will drive tourists away from South Africa and a strategy that allows such operations to continue will ultimately undermine South Africa's tourism goals.

Article adapted from HSUS.

Edit: When completing the form over at HSUS it asks you to personalise the letter, I have added a paragraph about how the canned lion hunts has made me reconsider visiting South Africa as my tourism would be contributing to the industry.

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