Media statement: South African Predators Association Jan 2016


The hunting of ranch lions in South Africa is open and will continue as usual in the 2016 hunting season.

SAPA realises that the entire hunting industry is currently under severe pressure and that it will stay under pressure for as long as the perceptions of the public are exploited and manipulated by the animal rights organisations. Winning the hearts and the minds of the people for hunting as a legitimate and ecologically responsible human activity is a battle all hunters and conservation-minded people must be prepared to fight together. SAPA has and will continue to stand up against these ongoing onslaughts on hunting,

SAPA firmly believes in the integrity and sustainability of the ranch lion industry in South Africa. Lion hunting is legal and constitutes an important sector of the trophy hunting industry in South Africa.

  • Lion hunting is allowed and supported by the SA government

The hunting of ranch lions in South Africa is well regulated by the National Department of Environmental Affairs, together with the provincial conservation authorities. All licensing and permitting of the keeping, breeding and hunting of lions are done strictly in accordance with CITES regulations. As recent as 15 May 2015, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has confirmed the government’s support for the lion industry in a press release by remarking: “There appears to be a deliberate strategy to conflate canned lion hunting with captive breeding of lions. The former is strictly prescribed; the latter is allowed, but strictly regulated and monitored. Lion hunting is allowed in South Africa. It is an integral part of our sustainable utilisation policies.”


  • Accreditation the key to sustainability and responsibility

Complementary to state laws and regulations SAPA has developed norms and standards to guide the actions of its members. To ensure compliance with these norms and standards SAPA has developed a system of accreditation. Lion hunting destinations are formally assessed against these norms and standards by independent assessors.  Successful applicants are awarded accreditation for three years and audited regularly in-between.

Currently (January 2016) twelve lion hunting destinations in South Africa have been accredited. These 12 ranches have dedicated their businesses to the legal and authentic hunting of captive bred lions in South Africa. SAPA is in the process of expanding accreditation to several more compliant ranches.

SAPA is very much aware of and seriously committed to its responsibility towards the conservation of lions in the wild. The Association is contributing to lion conservation in various ways, e.g. through its Conservation Fund, funded by levies on lions hunted on accredited lion hunting destination and by contributions of hunting clients.

  • The USFWS and the status of the African lion

SAPA is aware of the fact that the final ruling of the USFWS on the status of the African lion, published on 23 December 2015, may have serious effects on the ranch lion industry’s client basis. However, the industry is positive that it will be able to live with the ruling and able to comply with any specific trophy import requirements.

  • Lion hunting and the Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa (PHASA)

SAPA and PHASA are closely related organisations, with members that belong to both organisations. Many PHASA members were, until recently, involved in lion hunting. PHASA’s decision, in November 2015, to distance itself from captive bred lion hunting drastically changed the situation. Their decision was followed by a warning that “…any of its members found to be involved in the hunting or marketing of captive-bred lions would face expulsion”.

SAPA is utterly disappointed by PHASA’s feckless about-turn on the issue of lion hunting. Although it has been expected for some time, it is still a slap in the face of a partner that has shown itself to be trustworthy and loyal in the hunting and wildlife industry.

PHASA obviously did not base its decision on what is good for the lion population of South Africa, but rather to appease uninformed public opinion. In a public statement prior to their 2015 annual general meeting, former PHASA president Hermann Meyeridricks expressed their unease as “the tide of public opinion is turning strongly against this form of hunting” and indicated that PHASA’s volte face on the subject came about “against this backdrop.”

It is SAPA’s position that the right decisions are often at odds with those that are popular. The current campaign against captive-bred lion hunting is just a battle in the war against hunting in general. PHASA has buckled before this onslaught of uninformed social activists. If the hunting of captive-bred lions should be prohibited, it would remove an important node of resistance against the opponents of all forms of hunting. The entire industry and its sustainable benefits for wildlife preservation are at stake and PHASA has taken the side of those who would destroy it. Ironically, in doing so, PHASA has jeopardized its own long-term survival.

PHASA’s humiliating retreat on the issue was done with no small amount of hypocrisy. It now demands that SAPA should prove the “conservation value” of captive-bred lion hunting as well as enlarge minimum hunting areas to 2 000 ha and increase the release period, yet PHASA would not dream of instituting these conditions on the owners of buffalo or rhino which are also bred in captivity to be hunted.

PHASA has expressed their reservations about the ethical treatment of lions bred in captivity in South Africa, but has now relinquished any position from which to advise or influence SAPA in the matter.

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