‘Canned’ Duplicity and Decline

Stephen Wiggins Article, Petition 11 Comments


Petition – Stop the “Canned Hunting” of South Africa’s Lions

The breeding of lion (and other animal ‘product’) has been going on for some 25 years plus in South Africa.

The South African Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA’s) own candid definition of “canned lion hunting” clearly enlightens one to the morally reprehensible “artificial” nature of the “sport” (sic) of ‘canned’ killings:

In general, the term “canned lion hunting” refers to the hunting of lion in artificial circumstances, including the hunting of lion that is under the influence of a tranquiliser, by trapping it against a fence to hamper its escape, by luring it through the use of bait, hunting it in a controlled environment, and hunting it from a motorised vehicle” – South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)

The breeding of lions and other big cats in captive (‘canned’) breeding facilities within South Africa and its many Provinces, requires the issuing of a “Permit” to enable the breeding and “artificial” hunt (ie. execution) to take place.

Registration of any captive (‘canned’) breeding facility (the same applies for any ‘zoo’ or ‘cub petting’ facility) is compulsory in terms of South Africa’s ‘Threatened or Protected Species’ (TOPS) regulations and legislation. TOPS compliance is overseen by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The DEA provides a handy ‘Questions and Answers’ section specifically on lion hunting, but it does little to reassure anyone (as outlined in the article below).

Therefore, it is distressing to learn (6 July 2016) that the NSPCA (National Council for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)) wildlife division have been called in to inspect three Limpopo Province properties owned by Walter Slippers (‘Ingogo Safaris’ – Reference Appendix 3 below). Vets are due to complete checks on all the lions and big cats held captive, with some noted to be in very poor condition. It should be borne in mind, that this is not the NSPCA’s role per se. – local SPCA resources are extremely limited, but their intervention and care is of course welcome.

Pictures courtesy of Big Cat Conservation – ‘Canned’ lions being underfed in declining facilities

“Photos emerge of malnourished lions on breeding farm,” Africa Geographic, 8 July 2016

Lion_Starved_1 Lion_Starved_2 Lion_Starved_3 Lions_Starved_4

UPDATE: Traveller24 contacted Walter Slippers and he “denied the lions are currently underweight, saying the images are old and must have been taken in March when he was still in rehab after a heart attack. However, Isabel Wentzel, Manager for Wildlife Protection Unit for the NSPCA, confirmed that inspections were carried out at all of Slippers’ properties on Monday, 4 July and that underweight lions were found at the breeding farm” – Africa Geographic, 8 July 2016



The Limpopo Provincial Government (Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET)), Nature Conservation office issued the required Permit for Walter Slippers’ ‘facilities.’


Each ‘Province’ in South Africa has their own specifics under Province Ordinances, Regulations and Notice Sections (an outline of Limpopo’s is given at Appendix 1, but the specifics are lacking). The Province is allowed a great deal of flexibility by the DEA to set standards for captive enclosures, minimum hunting enclosure sizes and how long after being tranquilised an animal victim can then be hunted/executed by a ‘hunter’ etc. However, it’s not clear what criteria are applied to assess if an application for a Permit is acceptable – ie. what criteria is taken into account when a grain farmer suddenly wishes to become a predator breeder and applies for a Permit?

In the ‘Walter Slippers’ case, then the onus of responsibility must be on Limpopo Nature Conservation to ensure animal welfare standards are maintained at any facility that has been issued with a Permit.

It should be noted, that the South African lion/big cat breeding industry has been basically unregulated since the 2010 South African legal ruling (“The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) of South Africa Judgement,” Case No. 72/10, 29 November 2010) declared captive (‘canned’) lion breeding as ‘farming’ and of no conservation value. The SCA found in favour of the predator breeders’ lobby (of its own volition, “mero motu”), that ‘since no captive bred lions have ever been released back into the wild, then lion farming had nothing to do with conservation.’ Hence, why the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is basically unwilling and/or unable to even try to oversee or regulate the industry. However, the DEA does give guidance on its efforts:

A Permit is required in terms of section 57(1) of NEMBA (National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) if a person intends to carry out any restricted activity involving lion; whether live or dead; whether dead specimens involve the whole animal or any part thereof; and whether dead specimens are fresh, preserved or processed. These restricted activities include keeping, hunting, catching, breeding, selling, conveying or exporting from the country” – South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)

Furthermore, the DEA makes it clear that “it is prohibited to hunt lion:

  • in a controlled environment (the minimum size of the hunting camp is not prescribed in the TOPS Regulations, as it will differ from area to area. However, the minimum size is prescribed in many of the Provincial Acts/Ordinances);
  • while it is under the influence of a tranquiliser (the minimum time frame before a lion may be hunted after it has been darted, is not prescribed in the TOPS Regulations but is regulated in terms of some of the Provincial Acts/Ordinances);
  • with certain methods, such as poison, snares, air guns, shot guns, or by luring it with scent or smell.

The DEA do not attend hunts themselves and its questionable how much checking any Province Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI) actually conduct to ensure any stated objective, such as “Do compliance monitoring at hunting operations with foreign hunters.”

One only has to look at the attached 2012 video to see what really happens on such ‘canned’ hunts – which are basically animal executions for fun, killing for killing’s sake by another name:

Between the killing party, eight female and two male lions (hand-bred ‘canned’ lions) were shot from tree tops, whilst hiding in burrows and cowering against enclosure fencing………the lions were simply seeking to evade the massed hunters’ guns suddenly raining upon them. The target animal’s bewilderment is palpable and rudimentary evasion opportunities heart wrenching” – IWB, 5 July 2016.

So the DEA has no real idea how any given hunt is conducted, nor how many animals are slaughtered, or indeed how many ‘irregularities’ are conducted under the cover of a given hunting Permit. The whole ‘canned’ hunting industry in South Africa is basically unregulated and unpoliced by the DEA, but instead relies on a given Province to take a fee for Permit and then (perhaps) oversee compliance:

Compliance monitoring is undertaken by the relevant provincial Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs), both in terms of national and provincial biodiversity legislation, at regular intervals in relation to the permits issued. Complaints against and information received in relation to lion-related issues are prioritised for investigation” – South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)

However, “There is no compulsory requirement in NEMBA or the TOPS Regulations that lion hunts must be supervised” – South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) – so does any Province actually make an effort to supervise hunts is the obvious question raised?

Of course, the Professional Hunters’ Association South Africa (PHASA) made a binding pledge (November 2015) to eradicate the errant ‘professional hunters’ from their midst, those that still seek to indulge in the immoral practice of ‘canned’ hunts. It’s not clear if the PHASA has implemented any such pledge. Exactly how many ‘professional hunters’ and hunting outfitters have been struck from the PHASA’s ranks for non-compliance since November 2015, because clearly ‘canned ‘ hunts are still happening in South Afrcia?

Then of course, there are the ‘canned’ hunting apologists and advocates, seeking to give the industry an air of respectability (but failing in every regard) with a rebranding exercise from ‘canned’ to ‘ranch.’ One such protagonist is Professor Pieter JJS Potgieter, President of the South African Predator Association (SAPA), that offers ‘accreditation’ (for a fee), but the SAPA (Professor Pieter JJS Potgieter) has admitted to having no resources to ensure any compliance with a self-professed ‘SAPA Code of Conduct.’

The SAPA has of course voiced a statement (7 July 2016) full of platitudes to reassure ‘anyone’ that SAPA’s Members  “love lions” and are willing to help any captive lions in distress, such as those as Walter Slippers’ (not a SAPA Member) ‘facilities.’ Of course, according to the SAPA (Professor Pieter JJS Potgieter), the demise and suffering of struggling breeders and the poor captive animals is all due to activists daring to highlight the ‘canned’ industry’s immoral cruelty – of course (in the SAPA’s Professor Pieter JJS Potgieter’s opinion)  the demise/cruelty has nothing to do with the “above board” ‘canned’ industry itself – what utter deluded nonsense.

What the SAPA does not share is that less than 10% of lion breeders are actually registered/accredited with the SAPA and even pretend to abide by the SAPA’s self proclaimed ‘SAPA Code of Conduct’ (though the SAPA has no idea whether its Members abide by the ‘voluntary’ code, or not). Either way, that leaves over 180 (or more) ‘canned’ facilities with over 6,000 lions and other big cats that are not interested in even trying to follow any voluntary ‘SAPA Code of Conduct’ or be subject to outside scrutiny.


The ‘canned’ industry itself is lost in a dilemma of its own making – the industry being legally declared ‘farming’ (2010), but now needs to be shown as ‘conservation’ to permit hunting trophy export/import into the main hunters’ market of the USA – Reference Appendix 2.

There are rumours of ‘funds’ being paid by US hunters to try to show some sort of contribution to “conservation” in an attempt for ‘canned’ hunting trophies to still be imported.

The nature of the ‘canned’ industry’s self-impaled dilemma will only be made more stark ‘when’ the African lion is ‘uplisted’ to CITES Appendix I protection later this year.

Lion - Canned

But if Nature Conservation offices (such as Limpopo) are issuing Permits to accommodate captive (‘canned’) animal breeding, petting zoos etc., then the onus is surely on the same issuing Nature Conservation office to ensure compliance with animal welfare standards as a basic minimum ‘duty’ (not the NSPCA).

If Limpopo Nature Conservation is unable to fulfil this duty, then the lax issuing of any Permit surely needs to be curtailed forthwith and the status of facilities with issued Permits urgently reviewed. The same applies to any other Province.

The questionable morality of ‘canned’ (or the new Public Relations gloss attempt to call it ‘ranch’) breeding  is that the whole industry (plus associated zoos and ‘cub petting’ farms etc.) has been intentionally skewed via self-interested legal manoeuvring. The sole intent of such manoeuvring has been to favour unregulated animal abuse and optimal profiteering by all parties concerned. That self-inflicted lack of morality/humanity has now started to come back full circle, placing the whole ‘canned’ industry and all associated with it under intense, worldwide public scrutiny.


The cycle of collapse within the ‘canned’ industry is becoming evident. The onus is now more than ever, on Province Nature Conservation offices to finally ensure animal welfare is top of the agenda and not the ongoing animal exploitation and neglect the ‘canned’ industry perpetuates.

The South African Government (through complicity, or otherwise) has allowed the ‘canned’ industry to flourish and mushroom, without due regulation, forethought or seemingly ‘concern’ for South Africa’s world-wide reputation.

South Africa currently contains some 200 ‘farms,’7,000 ‘canned’ lions and 1,000 other ‘big cats’- but no one really knows, because the whole industry has been so poorly regulated and controlled.

The South African Government has seemingly condoned a gruesome, animal exploitation model for profit within its midst for far too long.

The blame for this ‘canned’ industry now beginning to crumble (the edifice of acceptability and respectability has always been paper thin), must be levelled squarely at the breeders who have relentlessly sought to manipulate and twist every attempt at restraining their profit driven desire to exploit, plus the complicit authorities that facilitate it (not to mention the willing killers who pay to shoot).

The inevitable animal suffering and hard truths that will result as this needless industry shrinks/implodes is only evident because the industry was allowed to exist and flourish unabated in the first place:

  • Not all of the ‘captives’ can be saved to sanctuary – there simply isn’t the sanctuary space available and release into the wild is pure fantasy:

many ‘canned’ animals are hand reared and fed, often poorly bred from a limited gene pool (ie. genetically mutated) and not in strong enough health to survive in the wild.

Lions exist in strong pride structures. Any disruption to a given pride, or territory disputes between an established pride and a ‘new’ pride can be devastating. So, the chances of any successful, or risk free reintroduction of any ‘canned’ or indeed ‘ranch’ stock into the wild is pure fantasy” – IWB, 29 March 2016

  • The ‘captives’ ongoing neglect (in the absence of South African Government and/or Province intervention) and heart-wrenching decline within the ‘canned’ farms is therefore inevitable as the industry contracts;

As the decline ensues, South Africa’s North West and Free State are reportedly issuing Permits every week for euthanasia of lions to supply the nonsensical lion bone trade in Asia (presumably a complicit action to try to keep the ‘canned’ breeders’ business income coming in) – other Provinces will no doubt follow to help ‘cash in’ from the tail end of the ‘canned’ industry’s exploitation model.

How can we/you help? Keep highlighting the abuse of South Africa’s ‘accommodation’ of the ‘canned’ industry – The Campaign Against Canned Hunting.



The recent release of the ‘Blood Lions’ documentary has put the issue of ‘canned’ on the world stage.

Blood Lions Image

But the whole sordid business has been highlighted since the mid 1990’s (Gareth Patterson’s ‘Dying to be Free’), but here we are in 2016 still calling for ‘canned’ to end.

Dying to be Free


The ‘enemy of humanity’ is embodied in killing for killing’s sake – the ‘canned’ industry cannot be seen as anything other than seeking to profit from killing for killing’s sake.


Appendix 1 – LEDET, Limpopo Nature Conservation


The province receives a mean of 2500 applications per annum for the hunting of wild animals on open farms.

Environmental Officers

  • Attend to hunting applications
  • Do consultation on hunting seasons and compile new hunting season for each year
  • Monitor compliance on hunting permits issued
  • Collect data on species hunted as well as localities of such hunts for the Department and SANBI
  • Assist with quota settings for threatened and protected species
  • Do verifications on put and take hunting
  • Evaluate culling applications
  • Monitor culling operations

Nature Conservation Officers

  • Monitor compliance to permits issued for hunting
  • Monitor culling operations

Trophy Hunting

The amount of about 450 Hunting Outfitters, 2000 Professional Hunters and 5 School Directors are registered within Limpopo. The five professional hunting schools give training to twelve students every month resulting in taking down of examinations of 720 students per year. A number of about 17 000 wild animal species are hunted each year by 1125 foreign hunters from 50 countries.

Environmental Officers

  • Compile the curriculum for professional hunting schools
  • Take theoretical examinations at professional hunting schools
  • Evaluate applications to act as director of professional hunting school and make recommendations to DEAT for appointments
  • Evaluate applications to act as a hunting outfitter
  • Evaluate applications to act as professional hunters
  • Inspect facilities and amenities to be used in trophy hunting by foreign hunters
  • Do compliance monitoring at hunting operations with foreign hunters
  • Evaluate applications [between 4 and 5000 per annum] or exportation of sport hunted trophies

Nature Conservation Officers

  • Inspect facilities and amenities to be used in trophy hunting by foreign hunters
  • Do compliance monitoring at hunting operations with foreign hunters

Capacity Building

Priority is given to build capacity on environmental issues at stake holders, the public and also our own officials. The transformation of the professional hunting industry by assisting in training programs as professional hunters are receiving important attention.

Environmental Officers

  • Build capacity at stakeholders by providing them with important information
  • Assist the public with advice and attending to queries
  • Provide training programs to previous disadvantaged individuals in professional hunting

Nature Conservation Officers

  • Assist with training programs

Taxidermy Regulation

Taxidermies works hand in hand with the trophy hunting industry. Permit applications for the exportation or importation of sport hunted trophies are received from about 24 different companies throughout South Africa.

Environmental Officers

  • Evaluate applications to establish and operate a taxidermist
  • Do inspections if taxidermy complies to application criteria
  • Register taxidermy in terms of new legislation
  • Do inspections on trophies received for legal compliance

Nature Conservation Officers

  • Do inspections on trophies received for legal compliance


Appendix 2 – Lion Hunting Trophy Import Restrictions, United States Fish and Wildlife Service 

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service ‘clarification’ on ‘canned’ hunting says Panthera leo trophies obtained from ‘canned’ hunting should/could be subject to the same USFWS verification process, ensuring the lion source is ‘sustainable/conservation:’

USFWS Criteria states at Page 178 -184 USFWS, “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing Two Lion Subspecies,” RIN 1018-BA29, 10 December 2015 – Including the “IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives,” Ver. 1.0 (IUCN SSC 2012).

Well, of course ‘canned’ hunting/farming is “sustainable” because the ‘canned’ industry is very good at breeding ‘product.’ But, the ‘canned’ lions and big cats held are not part of any recognisable ‘conservation’ programme. The whole ‘canned’ industry in South Africa was declared to be of no conservation value, but was declared ‘farming’ by the South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA – Case No. 72/10, 29 November 2010) when the South African Environment Department sought to regulate the ‘canned’ industry. The ‘canned’ industry in South Africa has been virtually unregulated since. The question is whether the USFWS will consider ‘canned’ hunting, under IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) “Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives,” “Net Conservation Benefit” as acceptable because in the USFWS’s opinion ‘canned’ hunting is “reducing the pressure on the target species….,” or ‘canned’ hunting is in contravention of that principle because “…it is also imperative that the program [‘canned’ hunting] is part of a legally recognized governance system that supports conservation.” Well, ‘canned’ hunting in South Africa is clearly not part of a legally recognized governance system that supports a legal definition of ‘conservation’ in South Africa.

So on those grounds alone, the USFWS should not permit the import of trophies derived from the unregulated and unrecognised ‘conservation value’ of the South African ‘canned’ hunting industry.

Appendix 3 – Who is Walter Slippers?

By Andrew Van Ginkel, Southern African Fight For Rhinos, 10 July 2016

Walter Slippers made the news in July when photographs were published showing the neglected state of the lions he breeds on his farm. He runs four businesses on his farm near Alldays, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, a breeding farm, a hunting farm, a Ingogo Taxidermy studio and a coffee shop, called “Toeka Plasskombuis.” Baby lions are brought each day from the farm to the restaurant so that tourists can pet them and take photos of the experience. The breeding and hunting side of his business falls under Ingogo Safaris – www.ingogosafaris.com,

An inspector from the NSPCA wildlife division, Isabel Wentzel, went to check on the condition of the lions on the farm. There were apparently 250 lions on the properties owned by Slippers, a vet has been ordered to go through to these properties and assess the health of the lions.

When asked about the condition of the lions on his property Walter Slippers said he had recently suffered from a heart attack and could therefore not feed the lions.

Dr Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands, said in an article published in www.africageographic.com that: “It is tragic to see lion breeders who have exploited lions for many years, simply abandoning their animals because they are no longer valuable. It clearly demonstrates that these breeders have no ethical conservation intent.”

The news website, Traveller24, also contacted Walter Slippers about the state of the lions and he said the photos were old and must have been taken in March when he was still in rehab after a heart attack, but the inspection done by the NSPCA on the 4th of July confirmed the ill health of the lions.

Walter Slippers and Dawie Groenewald

Dawie and his co-accused were arrested on 10 September 2010. In the indictment documentation for the Groenewald trial, it is mentioned that Walter slippers, the owner of the farm Ingogo near Alldays, contacted Dawie Groenewald and asked him if he had a rhino bull available. Dawie Groenewald at the time was in the USA, so he dealt with Johannes Gysbert Du Preez (Gys). Gys told Slippers that there was a dehorned rhino bull available for R200,000.

On the 12th of April 2010 Mariza Toet applied for a permit to transport two white rhino bulls from the farm Prachtig (Dawie Groenewald’s farm) to the farm Ingogo. On the 29th April 2010, a permit was issued for the transportation of two white rhino bulls to Ingogo. The permit was issued to Karel Toet, Mariza Toet’s husband.

It was then also stated that Dawie Groenewald personally delivered the dehorned rhino bull to Ingogo. So we have three white rhinos being sold by Dawie Groenewald to Walter Slippers in 2010.

In a testimonial about Ingogo Safaris, written by David and Anthony Florance, they spoke of two trips in 2011. They both claimed to have “taken” a rhino. Were these the two rhino purchased from Groenewald the previous year? David also “harvested” an elephant, a buffalo, a large male lion and a hippo. His son “took” a croc, a buffalo and a lion.

Vietnamese Pseudo Rhino Hunters

In 2012 Walter Slippers challenged the Department of Environment and Tourism over a decision of theirs to not issue white rhino hunting permits to five Vietnamese “trophy hunters”. The permits were initially authorised, but when the permits application was seen by the national Department of Environmental Affairs they decided to change their decision because of the abuse by Vietnamese citizens of the white rhino hunting permits to do “pseudo-hunts.”


Pseudo-hunter/Rhino Poacher

The court in response to the application by Walter Slippers, ordered that the five Vietnamese applicants would need to attend interviews that were to be conducted by the conservation authorities of the area, this was to determine if the Vietnamese hunters were legitimate hunters. Slippers told the court that the hunters were not yet in the country, and so could therefore not be available for interviews.

The court eventually turned down Slippers application, and he was ordered to pay the costs.


Walter Slipper is a man that sees animals as simply a way to make money. He breeds lions on his farm, makes money from tourists who pay to play with the baby lions at his farm restaurant, then once they are old enough he sells these lions to trophy hunters who shoot the lions so they can take home a dead lion. Walter also runs a taxidermy service for his hunting clients, so he is selling his animals to be shot, and then after this he is making money from the taxidermy work of the dead animal.

He has also shown he has been willing to sell rhino hunts to Vietnamese “pseudo-hunters”, abusing the rhino trophy hunting permit system as a legal way to harvest rhino horns. The fact the he was mentioned in the Groenewald indictment also shows he has associated with the non ethical side of the rhino hunting community.

Rhino Hunt_Illegal



Walter Slippers has proven he has very little respect for the animals under his care. Let’s hope that this latest incident of lion neglect will finally close down his businesses, none of them offer any conservation benefit, they are simply ways to profit from the animals, and in many cases this results in the death of the animal.

Walter Slippers Info:

Ingogo Safaris

Safari Now

Other Information Sources:

Pictures Emerge of Malnourished Lions on Breeding Farm,” Africa Geographic, 8 July 2016

Dawie Groenewald Indictment

Rhino Poaching Briefing at Kruger National Park,” Edna Molewa (Republic of South Africa, Minister for Environmental Affairs), 4 April 2012

Republic of South Africa, Department of Environmental Affairs, “National Environmental Compliance & Enforcement Report 2012/13


Comments 11

  1. Lisa McQuarrie

    Trophies are put on shelves! They are not animals! Animals are sacred sentient beings with families, and emotions! Would anyone want this to happen to them? Or their families? You are not helping the wildLIFE by slaughtering it! You are sick and need help if you find this enlightening!
    Go shoot s damn target, but for heaven’s sake Stop hunting! NOW!!! Animals are not commodities!!! This world desperately needs to step out of the dark ages!!!!!

  2. Linda Park

    Thank you for a really good understanding of the mess that is passing for conservation. This industry is a very dark cloud over South Africa that has been allowed to run rampant as a result of corruption, weak political will and human greed.

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