YouthForLions LIVE WILD Workshop a Roaring Success

Press Release by YouthForLions

Published on 5 Mar, 2019

The Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team hosted a youth workshop for over 120 high school and university students at the UKZN Howard College Theatre on Saturday, 2 March 2019.

The one day event highlighted and discussed activities associated with the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa, and other pressing conservation and tourism topics, such as Responsible Tourism, ethical volunteering programmes, and the harm that interacting with wild animals causes.

This was followed by a screening of the award winning Blood Lions® film, which follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about the multimillion-dollar lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa.

The Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ campaign is a global movement aimed at informing and engaging the worlds youth around the realities of tourist activities that exploit lion, such as cub petting and walking with lions; and the contribution these activities have on the canned hunting industry in South Africa.

Students who attended the Workshop were inspired by presentations from YouthForLions Coordinator Cath JakinsWildlife ACT’s Mark Gerrard and Zama NcubeThompsons Africa’s Janine SouthwoodYouth 4 African Wildlife’s Fortunate PhakaProject Rhino and Rhino Art’s Grant Fowlds; as well as Nunu Jobe(Trails Guide and Youth Mentor), Melumsi Matiwane (Rhino Art Educator), and Ben Wallace(Videographer).

The students left the Howard College Theatre with a much deeper understanding of the captive breeding industry, as well as the terms “Responsible Tourism” and “Ethical wildlife volunteering”. They were also exposed to possible career paths and opportunities in the conservation field.

“It is vital to see such a huge group of youth here posing such relevant questions to the speakers. This event is a great initiative to work towards developing our future leaders in the conservation space” – Mark Gerrard, Wildlife ACT Director.

Following the presentations and the Blood Lions® film, students were broken into groups and were given the task of creating a unique #YouthForLions campaign to create awareness on the critical conservation issues they had learnt about during the Workshop. The Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team were thoroughly impressed by the wide variety of campaign ideas brought forward by the 11 groups of students and had an extremely difficult decision to make. The group with the most captivating and original campaign idea won themselves a 2-day trip to the iconic Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve where they will have the opportunity to track and monitor wild lions and other priority species with conservation NGO, Wildlife ACT.

Here is what some of the students had to say about their time at the LIVE WILD Workshop:

“On Saturday 2 March I was privileged to be invited to the YouthForLions LIVE WILD workshop held at UKZN Howard College. Every single person took atleast one thing away from this workshop. Personally, I learnt how these wild cats are portrayed as these cute, touchable animals and how much money people pay to volunteer to help them. I also learnt how that money is just used to breed more lions and increase the breeding centres to uncontrollable sizes with inhumane conditions. I would just like to thank the YouthForLions team for everything that they do for the conversation of this amazing species and I just hope that the breeders wake up to the fact that what they are doing is wrong.” – Makaira Kerkhoff: Grade 11, Glenwood Boys’ High School.

“My brother and I attended the YouthForLions workshop at UKZN Howard College. It was a day full of fun, with interesting and interactive talks given by a number of big organisations that catered for everyone’s interests and potential career opportunities. The Blood Lions® movie gave everyone emotions revolving around anger, sadness and even guilt to those that have petted or walked with lions. Personally, I was angry and disappointed that people could be so heartless towards nature and its animals. It showed how lions are affected by inbreeding and how the owners became so defensive when asked questions relating to their lions lives and how they are treated.” – Odin Kerkhoff: Grade 9, Glenwood Boys’ High School.

“YouthForLions was an incredible experience for me and I could not be happier that I attended such an amazing workshop. I have a strong passion for animals and the environment and YouthForLions brought those two things together. Not only did they educate me on multiple issues, but they also gave me the confidence to do what I want to achieve later in my life. #YouthForLions is a great way to make younger people and communities more conscious of the reality of the industry and how this issue is growing which later could lead to disastrous results. I hope this workshop continues to grow in size and numbers, and that we’ll soon start seeing it on a bigger scale for everyone to experience.” – Kyra Foster: Grade 12, Northlands Girls’ High School.

“The Blood Lions workshop was an amazing experience and all the presentations were excellent and a very effective way to educate and involve people about conservation issues. I learnt that daily interactions between lions and people must be avoided because these lions are supposed to be released back to the wild. The information about this issue was unknown to me and many of the youth at the Workshop. YouthForLions plays an important role in wildlife conservation. I learnt a lot about canned hunting and I’m looking forward to attend the next workshops.” – Siboniso Mthiyane: UNISA Graduate.

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