Counting the caged animal incidents for 2017… what are we waiting for?

Cape Town – The saying goes “it gets worse before it gets better”, and we’re hoping it’s the case with wild animal interactions in SA.

So far, 2017 has not been a good year for the caged animal industry – with more and more cases of attacks on humans and handlers surfacing – each a nail in the wild animal interaction coffin we hope to lay to rest soon.

But, as conservationists are hoping to bury the interaction industry for good, they’re also holding their breath in the hopes that no fatal incidents occur in the meantime – again.

Because let’s be honest… what are SA’s powers that be waiting for before they put a legal end to wildlife interactions in SA? Another ‘kill’, perhaps?

The gruesome death of American tourist Catherine Chappell in 2015 is still a fresh reminder of the true nature of wild animals – and a warning of how these recent wildlife ‘incidents’ could have ended. And the incidents keep occurring, shrinking the margin of error every time.

The bloody timeline 

In the latest incident, an 11-year-old boy was airlifted to hospital after he was mauled by a lion in Laphelale, Limpopo.

Two weeks before this, two people were attacked by one cheetah from Emdoneni Lodge in KZN two days in a row.

At the time, one of the victims, an exchange student from Macau in China, Peggy Lio, told Traveller24 that she was “very concerned about that would happen in future”.

Before this, in February this year, a woman was mauled by a lion through a fence at a game park in eastern Zimbabwe. Local papers reported that the women suffered “serious injuries to her right hip and arm when she was attacked by a caged white lion while leaning on the fence”.

In January, a Mpumalanga man died days after being mauled by a lion. Although health authorities later confirmed that the man died due to “other diseases” and not wounds from the lion attack, but the incident still highlighted the dangers of caging wild animals.

Days before, on a wildlife farm outside Paarl, the death of a loved and respected guide at Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm made headline news in the Western Cape.

Following the guide’s death, the crocodile farm temporarily suspended croc pond tours, but these have since been reopened to the public as the interactions and feeding shows continue.

he incidents listed here are just some of the shocking wildlife interaction scares which hit headline news since the start of the year, with many other cases going under the radar.

This is not normal

You can throw your hands in the air and say ‘this is Africa’… but this is not true. In places where the wild animals are respected for what they are – wild – such ‘incidents’ do not occur nearly as much as they do in captive scenarios.

In the Kruger National Park, for example, one of the most sought-after global destinations for spotting wildlife in their natural habitat, incidents involving attacks on humans have been minimal – especially if you consider the amount of visitors and wild animals in the park daily.

Globally too, most incidents where humans and/or animals are harmed due to their interaction can be seen in caged environments – whether it be orcas in captivity, or the shooting of a zoo gorilla due to human ignorance…

It is, therefore, both stupefying and outright irresponsible to let wildlife interaction continue knowing what the risks are for both the humans and animals involved.

Stain on SA’s reputation

More that this, incidents where wild animals in captivity attack paying human interactors is a massive stain on SA as an international wildlife destination.

According to internationally-acclaimed activist group Blood Lions, speaking to Traveller24 on why images promoting cub petting had to be removed from OR Tambo International Airport, “South Africa needs to start reclaiming its reputation as a promoter of ethical wildlife tourism.”

SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona has also spoken out about his plans to ‘eradicate’ wildlife petting and other interactions in SA, which marks a leap in the right direction.

But considering the increasing number of incidents in which both SA’s wildlife, her tourists and her reputation are harmed – literally and figuratively – the fear is that the end of wildlife interactions in SA is not happening fast enough.

Back to Media

The NSPCA has huge animal welfare concerns for the animals exploited in the captive predator and canned hunting industry in South Africa. This industry is unregulated, uncontrolled and is responsible for untold cruelty. It is a tragedy that our wild animals are reduced to profit making machines. Coupled with this members of public are unwittingly encouraging and supporting this cruelty, so it is vital that the public are aware of the truth behind the industry so they can make informed decisions and hopefully choose not to support such an unethical industry.

Sr.Ainsley Hay, Manager, NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit

Breeding magnificent wild creatures like lions in camps so that they can be slaughtered for ego and money is unconscionable and should be outlawed.  Lions have the right to live in the wild and to continue playing their unique role within the ecological communities of Africa.  The continued existence of the canned hunting industry is a moral outrage that diminishes us all.  This important film shines a light into the dark corners of this ugly business.

Cormac Cullinan, Cullinan & Associates Incorporated

Cruel, barbaric, macabre – all words used by Australian MPs about lion farming and the canned lion hunting industry in SA.  Our campaign was glad to be able to assist and participate in a full length documentary that aims to expose a brutal industry whose whole business model is routine, egregious cruelty to helpless animals – for fun.

Chris Mercer, Founder, CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting)

Captive lions have long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape and their tragic story needed to be exposed before these practices negatively impacted on Brand South Africa. Congratulations to all involved in taking the time and making this happen.

Colin Bell, Tourism consultant and author of “Africa’s Finest”

“As a travel and conservation based organization, we find the “Blood Lions” documentary deeply disturbing. Despite being hard to watch, we urge people to get out there and see it. It is important to shed light on the dark and corrupt business of rearing lions for the purposes of hunting, in hopes of making a positive change. As we polled our membership, we found that individually each of our companies have chosen to stop booking all activities that contribute to this industry.”

The Safari Professionals – 30 Tour Operators based in the US and Canada

South Africa’s failure to address the canned hunting industry has emboldened those who make a living out of the death of lions bred, raised and slaughtered on a ‘no kill, no fee’ basis. The canned hunting industry is unnatural, unethical and unacceptable. It delivers compromised animal welfare and zero education. It undermines conservation and creates a moral vacuum now inhabited by the greed and grotesque self-importance of those who derive pleasure in the taking of life.

Blood Lions lays bare the truth behind the canned hunting industry that, far from contributing to the future survival of the species, may, in fact, accelerate extinction in the wild, leaving behind a trail  littered with rotting corpses of its helpless and hopeless victims.

Will Travers OBE, President Born Free Foundation

The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, in providing support for the making of this Documentary, does so in the firm belief that it is important that the true facts behind captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting in South Africa, is brought to the attention of a global audience in order to create awareness which in turn will lead to much needed change.

Les Ward MBE, Chairman, The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust

This is a timely, courageous as well as a deeply disturbing documentary. It is at the same time, a voice for the wild and the voiceless … of saying “NO MORE!” to that terrible triad of financial opportunism, deceit and indifference to the non-human animal by those claiming to be conservationists.

Ian McCallum – Author, poet, psychiatrist and naturalist

With the constant pressure on wildlife, every effort must be made to keep our last vestiges of natural fauna and flora protected.    Canned hunting of any kind, along with the related consequences, must be condemned by humanity as not only a travesty of nature but also an utterly inhumane practise.   Taming lion cubs only to later hunt them is an utterly inhumane practice.   It is pseudo-hunting, a complete sham and does not even qualify as hunting on a sustainable use basis.   Wildlife conservation has to evolve into practices that are ethical, humanitarian and sustainable. This will not be achieved if there is not real and fair community involvement which has not been part of the hunting fraternity’s evolution.

Yvette Taylor, Executive Director, The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation

“Canned lion ‘hunting’ is nothing less than a bargain basement opportunity for foreign hunters to engage in one of South Africa’s most sordid practices. Hunting of captive bred lions entirely dependent on human fingerprints from cub to trophy is immoral, unethical and against all animal welfare concerns. The fact that it still continues as profitable commerce is a damning statement against all of us who have not properly engaged to snuff it out. Blood Lions is a good start to bring change.”

Dr Pieter Kat – Director: LionAid

Canned Lion