#WorldLionDay: Awareness needed to double endangered lion numbers by 2050

#WorldLionDay: Awareness needed to double endangered lion numbers by 2050

Cape Town – August 10 is World Lion Day, and as the years pass, the celebration of this day becomes bittersweet as the magnificent cat species faces greater threat.

From South Africa’s proposed legalised export of 800 lion skeletons, to Cecil the Lion’s cub being killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, conservationists remain concerned about the devastating impact of humans on lions.

However, many conservation groups and organisations, such as Blood Lions, continue to work hard to raise awareness on trophy hunting, petting zoos and other factors that pose risks to lions – and these groups deserve recognition for their efforts in trying to save the species.

World Lion day says that the annual campaign aims “to raise much needed conservation awareness for the vulnerable African lion and endangered Asiatic lion”.

“The lion is an enduring symbol across the nations and has fascinated man throughout the millennia. To lose such a species would be to lose a significant part of our global heritage.”

“Join us in saving this magnificent species and unite those across the world in recognising their importance to us,” it adds.

Only 20 000 lions remain today

Lions in South Africa are listed under Appendix II which means their products can be traded internationally but only “if the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.”

The numbers of African free-range lions have declined alarmingly over the last few decades with only 20 000 remaining today, down from 30 000 just two decades ago.

Panthera, a conservation group dedicated to wild cats and their landscapes, warns that a “staggering number” of lions are being killed in captivity in South Africa for “lion bone wine” and calls on government commitment to protect lions.

However, it is not only lion conservation groups who are dedicated to raising awareness on World Lion Day, as other animal protection groups – including rhinosinafrica- have joined forces to remind the public of the plight of lions

Despite the decline in lion numbers, World Lion Day on Facebook is confident that with awareness and action now, the number of lions can be doubled by 2050.

Blood Lions film screening

In celebration of this day in which we pay tribute to the “King of the jungle”, YouthForLions and Blood Lions launched a #WatchToWin campaign to raise awareness around the plight of one of the world’s most iconic species.

“This visionary community have partnered with Wildlands to return the reserve back to its historical status as a Big Five reserve,” says Blood Lions.

“Somkhanda forms part of a KZN Wildlife and WWF initiative, the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which released a number of black rhino onto the reserve in order to promote their breeding and expand their range. In addition, the reserve hosts important populations of white rhino and critically endangered African wild dog,” says Blood Lions. Click here for more details

In addition to the campaign, Blood Lions – the full-length film – will be aired on television for the first time on World Lion Day, 10 August. Previously the edited 40-minute version of the film was aired on television.

“We have managed to curb the canned hunting industry quite heavily, yet the cub petting industry is proving to be very hard. We need more people to watch the film,” says Blood Lions.

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