Lion Trophy Hunting - how does it work?

Lion Trophy Hunting -

Lion Trophy Hunting - how does it work?

of reading - words

The movie Mia and the White Lion denounces hunting in enclosures. Zoom on this widespread practice in South Africa. The film Mia and the White Lion has a thousand faults - it is full of good feelings, it is very demonstrative... - but it has the merit of highlighting a little-known practice: canned lion hunting. In South Africa, thousands of wild animals are bred every year with the sole aim of being shot by wealthy hunters. Legally.

Canned lion hunting, really?

Hunters posing with a lion.

Hunters posing with a lion.

The practice of canned hunting was born in the 1980s. "As wildlife became scarcer, trophy hunters found that it took them much longer - sometimes up to three weeks on safari - to shoot a lion in Tanzania, Namibia or Zimbabwe," explains Sergio Lopez, founding president of the NGO Wildlife Angel 🏆. The South Africans saw the right plan: why not raise lions specifically for hunting? The customers - mostly North Americans - can go back and forth during the day, kill the animal and leave."

And it pays off! In this feline and lucrative version of pigeon shooting, it will cost you between $15,000 and $30,000 to shoot a lion with the Mukulu African Hunting Safaris company, depending on the size and color of its mane (compared to $3,000 for a giraffe or $7,500 for a hippopotamus). Lions on sale at Discount African Hunts: "only $25,000 instead of $30,000," says their site.

From greenwashing to trophy hunting.

Animal trophy in South Africa.

Animal trophy in South Africa.

"The system is well established," says Sergio Lopez. Breeding farms - under the guise of participating in the conservation of the species - pamper the big cats and welcome tourists in adjoining lodges. Up to 4 or 5 months, they can pay to bottle-feed the cubs. When the animal grows up, these farms organize walks with the animals or jeep tours to admire them. Then when the feline turns 3 years old, he can be sold to these famous hunting farms, where he has no chance of getting away with it."

According to sources, South Africa has between 160 and 200 such establishments on its territory (breeding and hunting farms combined). The Kevin Richardson Foundation, a partner of the movie Mia and the White Lion, estimates that some 10,000 lions have been killed in these conditions. Their bones are then exported to Asia (China, in particular), to be used for pseudo-medicinal purposes.

It should be noted that breeding for hunting is far from being a South African specificity. In France, the association for the protection of wild animals denounces in particular the release of game and puts forward impressive figures on its website: "19 million pheasants and partridges are bred each year in France, intended to satisfy the desire for easy shooting".

Lions Trophy Hunting gets lions vulnerable.

Hunter and elephant.

Hunter and elephant.

The lion, a vulnerable species according to IUCN.

Once widespread in North Africa and the Middle East, Panthera leo now only survives with certainty in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and its presence outside protected areas is rare. One subspecies, Panthera leo persica, is found in the Indian state of Gujarat.


About 20,000 in the wild on the African continent, and 500 in India. Numbers have halved over the last two decades.


Savannas, dry tropical forests with few trees.


Reduction of hunting and game territory, tensions with humans over livestock, poaching (illegal trade in body parts for pseudo-medicinal purposes), trophy hunting.

Ben - Lion Republic writer.

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