The ‘Canned’ Killing Game – Dead, or Alive?

Stephen Wiggins Article 1 Comment

Banner image courtesy of Mark Boulton, Elsa Trust and Elsamere

Safari Club International (SCI) has pulled its support of an industry that has blighted the world for over 20 years – “Dying to be Free” was a rally cry from the 90s to end the ‘canned’ slaughter.

Has it really taken the SCI (and others) that long to grow a conscience, or could this recent SCI epiphany just be more window dressing and another desperate attempt to try to ‘save’ trophy hunting’s tattered public image?

And it’s not just lions that this poorly regulated industry is threatening with its ‘captive’ shooting gallery ethos – in January, a 75 year-old Croatian ‘canned’ trophy hunter was shot dead whilst hunting captive-bred lions at Leeubosch Lodge near Setlagole, South Afrcia.

South African Predator Association (SAPA)

The ‘professional’ lobby (the South African Predator Association (SAPA)) that represents the supposedly ‘conscientious’ (sic) element of the ‘canned’ industry has been muddled and lost within its own machinations for years.

Only last week, the SAPA dropped its ‘case’ against independent media, withdrawing a claim for R1 million damages against Independent Newspapers and Shannon Ebrahim and the published article “Canned Lion Hunting Damaging Brand South Africa,” 13 October 2017 – the SAPA ending up paying Independent Newspapers’ and Shannon Ebrahim’s court costs.

Canned - Stop killing our heritage

File picture: Michael Walker/Independent Media

Indeed, as Shannon Ebrahim now states, ‘canned’ is “A Lion Policy South Africa Can’t Defend” – 9 February 2018.

Professional Hunters’ Association South Africa (PHASA)

In November 2017, the PHASA voted at its AGM by a majority to renew its support of ‘canned’ hunting – encompassing a constitutional amendment to adopt the definition that “Ethical hunting shall mean all hunting permissible by law” (sic) – be that moral, or ethical in any real-world environment.

This shows the level of fragmentation within hunting, some desperate to hold on to the vestiges of all hunting income streams, not matter how morally repugnant.

Other ‘professional hunting bodies’ and apologists for trophy hunting are desperate to try and show clear water between ‘canned’ and what they consider to be ‘ethically acceptable’ (sic) “fair chase“(sic) trophy hunting (dead wildlife still needlessly results regardless of any such pious, ethical “fair chase” arguments of course).

Panthera leo (African lion)

The Republic of South Africa, Department; Environmental Affairs (DEA) released its “Non-detriment finding (NDF) assessment for Panthera leo (African lion)” in Gazette 41393, dated 23 January 2018.

The conclusion drawn from this NDF, is why would the beneficiaries discontinue any activity if the blinkered proponents cannot see/accept any wider theoretical, or proven downside to conservation, moral standards and/or reputational risk?

This NDF:

  1. Did not consider the questionable genetic quality, or universal welfare standards of South Africa’s “…..large captive population of approximately 7,000 lions kept in around 260 breeding/captive facilities in South Africa.”
  2. Did not consider the continent-wide threat to wild lion populations posed by the ‘canned’ industry’s utilisation of captive bred lions for killing for fun/the lion bone trade. 2017’s “A Roaring Trade” was a call by leading researchers highlighting the need for scientific clarity to study the ‘canned’ industry’s potentially detrimental continent-wide effects.

“…..evaluation of the legal and illegal trade is necessary in African lion range states where vulnerable wild lion populations are likely to be adversely affected” – “A Roaring Trade,” 24 October 2017

  1. Still did not answer the question, why a “800″ ‘canned’ lion skeleton quota was set as the DEA’s behest for the lion bone trade – why not zero, ’80’ or ‘8,000’? – Killing = profit for profit’s sake, no matter the potentially negative consequences surely?
  2. Makes the dubious claim that “…….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).” Since when has a ‘fact’ been based on a scientifically unproven maybe? Does the DEA base all such life/death decisions on flimsy hypotheses that lack any credible science?

In essence, this NDF short-sightedly concludes – why stop the morally questionable ‘canned’ killing for pure greed/profit, when there are plenty more (subjective) wild lions still alive (aren’t there?) –  wrapped up in an official cloak of deceit/delusion.

Canned Hunting – The End Game

Captive bred lions serve no current, or potential future conservation purpose whatsoever – and the need for the industry to even try has been rejected by the Lion Management Forum. The ‘canned’ industry has never contributed to the conservation debate, until its income stream from the abhorrent industry was threatened by its own negative consequences and clear lack of moral and conservation content.

Killing animals for trophies is ethically repugnant in any form (“fair chase” (sic) or otherwise), let alone when the target has been bred specifically and released into a limited enclosure with no skills, or means of evasion of its execution.

No matter how belligerent a minority clings to the ‘harmless’ (sic) ‘canned’ industry’s income, there is no turning the tide against public opinion. The civilised world has rejected ‘canned’ big cat breeding and hunting for decades. The voices calling for its eradication are only getting louder.


What will happen now? The ‘canned’ industry will no doubt try to continue to prevail, under the seemingly protective guise of the Republic of South Africa, Department: Environmental Affairs (DEA); lest we forget the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) own 2016 ‘contribution’ to perpetuate the ‘canned’ industry’s profiteering from the lion bone trade.

The world is watching (the horror show) and shaking its head. Time to end this horror show once and for all.

Further Reading

Canned lion hunting – a buffer against what?” Campaign Against Canned Hunting, 4 February 2018

‘Canned’ hunting – the end game,” IWB, 18 August 2016

The end of ‘canned hunting’ looks imminent,” IWB, 19 November 2015

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  1. Pingback: Minister Edna Molewa establishes lion bone export quota for 2018 – International Wildlife Bond

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