Fair Trade and anti-animal interaction sentiments gaining traction in SA

Cape Town – Animal interaction is on a slippery slope to the end, digging its own hole as more and more people and companies are being made aware of the cruelty lurking in the industry’s very core.

Outspoken conservationist groups like Blood Lions have called out the disconnects bluntly, stating and proving that petting or interacting with lion cub leads directly to a canned lion killing later on.

As true as this is for lions in captivity, it is for all other wild animals.

Most recently, ostrich farmers and tourist farm operators in Oudtshoorn have stopped ostrich back rides acknowledging the “global tendency to keep and exhibit animals and birds in their natural environment as much as possible”.

Two farms, Cango ostrich farm and Safari ostrich farm, confirmed that ostrich rides and human-animal interactions will no longer be allowed on the properties. One ostrich farm, however, will still allow the interactions.

According to Renate Samoilhan, marketing manager Cango ostrich farm, the feedback from the public and tourism industry has been positive. “It is an ethical, positive and necessary step for the tourism industry,” she says.

Wild animal interactions continuing in SA… but for how long?

While the ostrich industry in SA is stepping up for conservation, many other wild animal interaction operators are continuing with the practice, citing financial gain as the main reason why.

The Lion Park in Johannesburg, after promising to end lion cub petting back in 2016, continued the practice.

A statement on why they shied away from the idea said, “We had every intention running the new park without cub petting and we tried to replace this with other activities. Unfortunately, this led to a dramatic and unexpected drop in the number of visitors and tour operators.”

South Africa’s elephant-back ride operators are equally stubborn to end the interactions. This despite the fact that our neighbouring countries like Botswana and Zambia have banned the practice altogether.

But conservationists and a changing public opinion is slowly but surely tightening the leash around wild animal interaction operators’ necks.

New criteria spells end of interactions

New policies outlined by Fair Trade Tourism (FTT), with specific regard to the highly-confusing (and sometimes damaging) volunteer tourism industry, are also helping to identify companies operating under the veil of conservation.

Fair Trade Tourism says since the organisation’s initial review of its standard to include additional criteria on volunteering in 2009 there has been a significant upsurge in both the supply and demand for volunteer products in Africa, many focused on so-called conservation or orphanage programmes.

This upsurge has brought with it concerns from various organisations regarding malpractices, which were especially evident in programmes dealing with vulnerable children and captive wildlife.

The Fair Trade criteria does not allow for any physical interaction by tourists or volunteers with a range of captive animals, including all large and medium-sized carnivores, big cats, elephants, rhinos, large apes, hippos, ostrich, crocodiles and venomous snakes. They also do not allow for tourists or volunteers to interact with any child or vulnerable person unless this takes place under continuous, qualified adult supervision.

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