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‘Blood Lions’ Exposes South Africa’s Canned Hunting Industry

A new documentary sheds light on the highly controversial but perfectly legal practice of commercially breeding lions for ‘canned hunts’ in South Africa.

Blood Lions, directed by Bruce Young and Nick Chevallier, premiered on Wednesday at the Durban International Film Festival. The film “shows in intimate detail how lucrative it is to breed lions‚ and how the authorities and professional hunting and tourism bodies have become complicit in allowing the industries to flourish.”

According to the film, “every single day in South Africa at least two to three captive bred or tame lions are being killed in canned hunts,” or trophy hunts in which animals are trapped in enclosed areas making it easier for hunters to kill them, “and hundreds more are slaughtered annually for the lion bone trade.”

The film claims more than 8,000 predators are being held in cages or confined areas throughout South Africa, often under the guise of “conservation,” when they are really being bred so that wealthy individuals, many of them foreigners, can kill them. Hunters pay up to $40,000 to shoot lions with rifles, shotguns, handguns and even crossbows, often from the back of pickup trucks, before posing for photos with their trophy kills. According to Cause Ribbon, an online organization that raises awareness of animal rights and other issues through the use of website ribbons, as many as 1,000 lions are shot annually by trophy hunters throughout South Africa.

Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones poses with one of her victims killed on a canned hunt in Africa.

Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones poses with one of her victims killed on a canned hunt in Africa.

Many of the ‘sportsmen’ (and women) who travel to Africa for canned hunts believe they are actually helping wildlife conservation efforts.

“I am an animal lover, therefore I am a hunter,” says one American woman in the trailer for Blood Lions.

“It’s not like we’re mass-murderers who just enjoy watching things die,” says another American.

In addition to canned hunts, lions are also bred for body parts used in traditional Asian medicine. Demand is skyrocketing. The Guardian reported that in 2009, five lion skeletons were exported from South Africa to Laos. In 2011, that figure soared to 496.

Times Live reports Blood Lions has garnered praise from the Born Free Foundation, a UK-based international wildlife conservation group.

“The canned hunting industry is unnatural‚ unethical and unacceptable,” Will Travers, the group’s president, is quoted by Times Live. “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‚” Travers added.

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