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Canned Hunting – Current Status


AVAAZ Stop Canned Lion Hunting Jacob Zuma ACSA Primedia shame on South Africa


  1. In South Africa, there are many more lions in cages than in the wild.
  2. The captive killing of tamed lions (“canned hunting”) is a rapidly growing, un-policed industry, and directly linked to “cub-petting”.
  3. Over 160 “Canned Lion” killing camps in South Africa have been established over the past fifteen years.
  4. The genetics of these lions in captive-breeding operations are compromised, meaning they can never return to their natural eco-system.
  5. In the wild, lions have lost over 50% of their historic range in the last 30 years.
  6. Less than 3% of the income from commercial killing of lions reaches the local communities.
  7. While trophy hunting of lions in the wild is thought to bring economic benefits to a country, studies show it accounts for only 0.27% of GDP and 1.8% of tourism revenue.
  8. Lion parts are being traded large-scale from captive breeding operations into eastern markets.
  9. Approximately 1,000 tamed lions are shot for blood-sport annually in South Africa.
  10. According to the numbers, the extinction risk for lions is even greater than the rhino.
  11. The conservation status of lions in South Africa is potentially about to be down-listed from CITES Appendix II to Appendix III, this means even less protection or regulation for all lions in South Africa in terms of hunting, and trading in lion parts. Since White Lions are not classified as critically endangered, they face even greater risk.


“We are losing five lions a day to poaching, conflict, hunting, and human encroachment. If we don’t secure lions, elephants, and rhinos, conservation 
in Africa will be over. Unless something changes dramatically, we have 10 to 15 years to do it.” Beverly Joubert, renowned conservationist

PLEASE BE INFORMED: White Lions are NOT protected from being hunted to extinction. In South Africa, White Lions may be legally hunted in captivity and legally hunted in the wild. For many years, the Global White Lion Protection Trust has been lobbying the SA Government to have South Africa’s natural living heritage protected by law. 

What is ‘Canned Hunting’?

The life of a lion in the canned hunting industry:

A few days after the lion cub is born it is taken from its mother. As the mother thinks she has lost her cubs, so she will almost immediately come back into estrus, her sole purpose is to be a breeding machine for the trophy hunting outfitter. She spends her whole life giving birth and having her cubs ripped away from her, and she never gets the chance to be a mother. Once her body is useless and can no longer have cubs she is either offered to be shot for a bargain price or just thrown in for free as part of another hunt.

When the cub is taken from its mother it is sent to a petting zoo or a volunteer project, where tourists pay to interact with the cubs. This is very distressing for the cubs who have no means of getting away, cats sleep a lot and cubs especially, but they cannot do this because they are constantly being picked up for petting and photographs. When the cubs become too big for petting, they are then used for tourists to have a ‘walking with lions’ experience, which again provides another opportunity for these outfits to profit from the lions.

When the lion is fully grown, it then comes time for the lion to be shot, so it is released into a small enclosure. The hunters are generally driven around the enclosure, on the back of open vehicles, looking for the tame, hand raised lion, which now has no fear of humans, and so will often come very close to the vehicle. Meat is often hung out and they wait for the lion to start eating and then the hunters open fire as it eats. Often the tame lion will be laid underneath a tree and as it sees the people approach it just glances over and glances away, as it does not see people as a threat. The cowards open fire and take pleasure in watching the animal roll around the floor in agony, then watch the life drain out of its body. We have seen many videos of these canned hunts and they are shocking and horrifying, to the average person this is abhorrent, but to the hunters, this is sport?.

View – Playful lioness killed – CANNED HUNT!

The aftermath is distressing as they parade the dead lion for ridiculous photos as they stand over the lifeless corpse of the tame, hand raised lion. They then return home to their countries to tell tales of how they killed a big bad dangerous man eating lion (they never mention they killed a tame, bottle fed lion inside an enclosure).

Trophy hunting outfits have now found another way to profit from the lions they kill, they are now selling the bones to the Asian medicine market. This is the same market that has wiped many species off the face of the planet and is the biggest threat to tigers and rhino today, the most alarming thing is that the South African government are allowing them to do this legally.

Illegal rhino poaching has risen 3000+% in the past five years and this is happening to lions as well, we are starting to the the exact same patterns with lions as what happened to rhinos, but the SA government do not appear to care. South Africa are even allowing tigers to be shot inside enclosures and their bones sent to Asia.

Volunteers pay thousands of dollars to work on these type of projects that promise that these cubs will be one day released. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is that these cubs will never be released into the wild and that their destiny is to become a trophy for sport. Volunteers are led to believe they are doing a good thing where in fact what they are doing is helping to sustain an industry that is inhumane. We would strongly recommend that all volunteers do their homework, any cub petting facility will most likely be providing lions for the canned hunting industry, please use websites such as and do the research to ensure that you are not unknowingly supporting this industry.

What has been done?

Linda Tucker and the White Lion Trust have been actively campaigning against the canned hunting industry for the past 2 decades. The term ‘canned hunting’ was first coined in 1997 by the THE COOKE REPORT: where they exposed this atrocity to the international media. In this report ‘canned hunting’ in South Africa was named and shamed, by a British investigative TV program called The Cook Report.

Over the past 2 decades there have been several reports over this barbaric industry, one of which was by Animal Rights Africa in 2010 called ‘Hunting in South Africa – A Bloody Mess’, yet to date the government of South Africa has not responded, and so this industry has now become South Africa’s greatest shame. Several organisations together with the White Lion Trust have been putting pressure on governments around the world to ban the import of lion trophies and lion parts in an attempt to put a stop to this industry. The White Lion Trust have composed a chronology of the all of the campaigning over the past two decades, to read the full report click here.


In 2012, Avaaz launched an advertising campaign in airports calling for President Zuma to put an end to the horrific lion bone trade. It took around one week for President Zuma to order the posters to be pulled down. Avaaz then started an online petition which already has over 700,000 signatures calling for an end to the lion bone trade and then subsequently won a high court battle to say that it was unconstitutional for these posters to have been removed.

For a full article on the Avaaz Campaign

AVAAZ Stop Canned Lion Hunting Jacob Zuma ACSA Primedia 3 AVAAZ Stop Canned Lion Hunting Jacob Zuma ACSA Primedia

“Thank you AVAAZ! At last, responsible loving people are waking up to the truth that has been hidden for so long…Please remember if you handle baby cubs you are supporting this killing industry…” Message from CEO, Linda Tucker.


What is happening now in South Africa?

Most recently the situation has escalated as we are aware that the conservation authorities DEDET (Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism), Panthera (International Big Cat Conservation Organisation) and LiMF (Lion Management Forum) of South Africa are all motivating that the conservation status of lions in South Africa be down-listed from CITES Appendix II to Appendix III, this means even less protection or regulation for all lions in South Africa in terms of hunting, and trading in lion parts. Since White Lions are not classified as critically endangered, they face even greater risk if  the conservation status of lions in South Africa were to be down-listed.

The Global White Lion Protection Trust (WLT) has sent an urgent letter of objection to the Director-General of Environmental Affairs, highlighting major concerns about the proposed National Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for Lions in South Africa (Gazette No. 38706).

As the proposed Biodiversity Management Plan stands, it will
1) legitimise the notorious malpractice of captive breeding and hunting of lions i.e. ‘canned lion hunting’
2) increase the demand for hunting of wild lions for parts, and
3) put wild lion populations in SA at greater risk by down-listing the conservation status of lions in South Africa from Vulnerable to Least Concern.

To read the letter and find out what you can do to help, click here.

What is happening Globally?

In the United States  – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species, due to habitat loss, loss of prey and increased human-lion conflicts. In addition to the proposal for federal protection, we also proposed a rule to allow for the importation of sport-hunted lion trophies from countries with established conservation programs and well-managed lion populations. These actions were open for public comment for and we are now waiting to hear the outcome.

Recently the renowned ’60 minutes’ did an expose on the Canned Lion Hunting industry, the video is very disturbing. Please be aware some of the content may affect sensitive viewers. Click here to view.  

United Kingdom – Linda Tucker presented to the British Parliament in July 2013, as part of her ongoing efforts to encourage the British Government to prohibit the import of Lion Trophies and Lion parts at UK ports.

Australia –  Australia has taken a strong position in passing a motion to ban the importation of lion trophies and lion parts., this motion was due to come into effect in December 2014. If this motion is enforced, this will strengthen our long standing campaign to influence both UK and US governments to do the same. This article explains the situation.

Full Article – The Star Newspaper – ‘Overseas hunters flocking to kill in SA’
Article on SA Response to proposed Australian Ban

How can you help? Click here!


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