Youth sign Open Letter to South African Government

Press Release by Blood Lions

Published on 24 June, 2019

An open letter signed by over 300 South African youths was sent to the Presidency as well as the Departments of Environment, Forest and Fisheries; Basic Education and Higher Education calling for an end to the captive breeding and commercial exploitation of wildlife across South Africa.

The 16th of June in South Africa serves to commemorate a day in 1979 when South African youth banded together and changed the course of our history. This Youth Day, the Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team called upon the youth of South African to stand together once more and speak up against the injustices of captive predator breeding.

South Africa currently has approximately 3 times more lions in captivity than in the wild, and these animals are exploited at every phase of their lives despite claims made by the breeders. Young people from around the world travel to our country to visit these facilities believing that they are contributing to conservation when, in fact, their money is simply contributing to what is most often unethical breeding and fraudulent use of the animals.

This Youth Day initiative follows a decision made by the Department of Environmental Affairs in March 2019 to allow the captive lion breeding industry to continue with regulations in place, despite the recommendations and resolutions made by the Portfolio Committee of Environmental Affairs (PCEA) towards the end of 2018 to put an end to the practice. The PCEA confirmed that “there was an overwhelming consensus to the need to bring an end to the controversial aspects of the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa” and that the industry is, in fact, a blemish on South Africa’s conservation reputation and tourism image. Leading global conservation and scientific authorities have stated time and time again that the captive predator breeding industry has no conservation value, and goes against internationally accepted ethical and welfare protocols.

The 324 youth who signed the open letter agree that trying to regulate an industry that has been thriving for over a decade under ineffective governance is unfortunately not the answer.

“I truly believe that we are vastly more powerful and influential as a collective. I have been completely blown away by the support for this Open Letter and am immensely proud to have been a part of it. I implore the President and his Ministers to listen to the voices of the youth and hear their message” – Cath Jakins, Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ Coordinator.

In the week leading up to Youth Day, YouthForLions Coordinator, Cath, visited three schools in Eshowe, northern KwaZulu-Natal, where she presented on the captive lion breeding industry and the exploitative wildlife interactive tourism industry.

Cath presented to Grade 4 to 7 students at John Wesley School and Holy Childhood School and Grade 4 to 12 students at Gratton School. The reception at all 3 schools was fantastic with approximately 150 students volunteering to sign the YouthForLions pledge and add their names to the Open Letter.

Grade 7 class of 2019 at Holy Childhood Convent School, Eshowe added their voices to the Letter

THANK YOU to John Wesley School, Gratton School and Holy Childhood Convent School in Eshowe for hosting YouthForLions and for all your support for the Youth Day Open Letter initiative. We will definitely see you next year!


Read the Open Letter with all 324 signatures here:

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team on

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