WATCH: Why it’s never a good idea to let a lion climb into your safari vehicle

Lions, tame or wild, shouldn’t really be allowed into your personal space.

In this video, a lion known as Filya more than crosses the line. Watch the video here

Filya can be seen cuddling with several tourists in a vehicle resembling a golf cart – which is open on the sides and low enough to allow the lion to get up close and personal.

The Taigan safari Park in Bilohirsk, Crimea is popular for its close access to the lions. Bizarrely enough, the report states a woman was bitten at the same park about eight weeks earlier, by a different lion.

In South Africa the issue of lion cub petting and walking has been a contentious issue for years – especially around canned hunting but also in relation to the risk it poses to the safety of tourists and staff who work at these facilities.

On 21 and 22 August, South Africa’s parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs hosted a two-day colloquium to review the unregulated captive-bred lion industry.

The event, Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country, was open to the public and viewed as a possible road map to position SA as a leader in animal welfare and ethical wildlife tourism – if it were to ban captive lion breeding and phasing out captive-bred lion hunting in a managed way.

But what do the experts have to say about this predator interaction?

“Not only is it completely irresponsible, but it is also very dangerous as there are significant risks involved with interacting with big cats,” says Blood Lions producer Pippa Hankinson.

“The conservation and welfare sectors have been expressing concerns about captive facilities offering tourist and volunteer predator activities for many years and for many reasons, including the fact that there are no adequate safety regulations in place to protect visitors and/or staff.”

Hankinson pointed out that in a recent open letter to South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Dr Edna Malewa, shocking statistics on carnivores attacks over the last ten years were revealed.

It shows that not all incidents are reported to authorities, but of those that were reported, “approximately 30% were fatal”. See the full letter here.

“Clearly the time has come to put an end to this industry which allows the public to interface with captive-bred predators, and which puts their lives at risk,” says Hankinson.

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