Animal protection groups welcome denouncement of captive-bred or “canned” lion hunts from one of the largest U.S. trophy hunting clubs

Humane Society International

Johannesburg—Humane Society International and Blood Lions® welcome the announcement by U.S pro-trophy hunting group Safari Club International that it will no longer allow the promotion or auctioning of hunts involving African lions bred and shot in captivity. SCI says that canned hunting “has doubtful value to the conservation of lions in the wild.”

According to the government of South Africa, private operators hold between 6,000 and 8,000 captive African lions in approximately 200 facilities where canned lion hunts sell for around $45,000 each, though price tags rise depending on the size and colour of the male lion’s mane. Of the 1,052 trophies from captive lions traded internationally in 2015, American hunters killed 686 animals, and imported their body parts into the United States – about 65 percent of the total.

Effective February 4, SCI will no longer “accept advertising from any operator for any such hunts, or allow operators to sell hunts for lions bred in captivity at the SCI Annual Hunters’ Convention,” or include any entries of captive bred lions into its Record Book.

Pippa Hankinson, producer of the film Blood Lions®️, said “South Africa’s lion breeding industry is truly shameful. Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers as early as a few days old and hand reared to habituate them to people. Paying volunteers then raise these lions under the false belief that they are orphans, the same cubs are also exploited for tourist cub petting and, once older, for the ‘walking with lions’ activity. The adult lions are then sold off to trophy hunters for canned hunts or killed for the lion bone trade. This is a cycle of mistreatment that must end.”

Audrey Delsink, executive director of HSI/Africa, says, “Humane Society International and Blood Lions® have firmly opposed the shocking practice of canned lion hunting, and we welcome SCI’s adopted policy. We are proud partners with Blood Lions® and the campaign to end the exploitation of captive bred lions and the industry it perpetuates. In South Africa, captive breeding of lions is fraught with welfare and ethical concerns. We therefore urge the South African government to shut the lid on canned-lion hunting for good.”


    • Other hunting organizations have already spoken out against trophy hunting of captive-bred lions: Dallas Safari Club, Boone and Crockett Club, South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association, Operators and Professional Hunter Associations of Africa, Namibia Professional Hunters Association, Rowland Ward Ltd.
    • In November 2017, the South African Professional Hunters Association amended its constitution to allow for the hunting of captive bred lions under specific circumstances. This resulted in their suspension from OPHAA, the loss of sponsorship and fragmentation of PHASA.
    • In its 2015 Biodiversity Management Plan, the government of South Africa stated “captive lions are bred exclusively to generate money.” The 2018 “Non-Detriment Finding Assessment for Panthera Leo (African Lion)” found that “trophy hunting of captive bred lions poses no threat to the wild lion population within South Africa, and it is thought that captive lions may in fact serve as a buffer to potential threats to wild lions by being the primary source of hunting trophies and derived products (such as bone).”
    • An African lion listing U.S. Endangered Species Act petition from HSI and partner groups prohibited the import of captive lion trophies effective January 22, 2016. Yet HSI’s review of 2016 data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora revealed that the U.S. government nevertheless authorized at least 280 such imports, through an inappropriate application of an exemption for captive lions killed before the effective date of the listing.
    • On November 28, 2017, 25 individuals representing the African Lion Working Group, prominent lion researchers, National Geographic, and leading wildlife conservation groups submitted a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It urged the U.S. to maintain its current restriction on importation of captive-origin lion trophies, stating:
        – “The hunting of captive-bred lions neither benefits biodiversity conservation, nor the conservation of wild and free-ranging lions.”
      • – “Today, the most prolific threats to wild lions are a lack of safe and suitable space, and conflict with people. The captive breeding of lions does not address these threats.”
      • –  “[C]aptive lion breeders are not preventing the poaching of wild lions, and may in fact be stimulating it”
      • –  “SAPA [South African Predator Association] states in their letter that hunting of captive bred lions presents direct conservation benefits to wild lions, yet there is no published, peer-reviewed evidence to support this statement.”

• Blood Lions® is an award-winning feature film documentary and campaign that launched in 2015 to expose the cub petting, predator breeding and canned hunting industries in South Africa.



Humane Society International – Africa: Social Media and Communications manager, Leozette Roode,

Blood Lions: info@bloodlions.org

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