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South Africa is home to approximately 8000 captive lions. These lions are bred in captivity to be exploited purely for commercial gain. Have you cuddled and had your photograph taken with a lion cub? Have you walked with lions? Have you volunteered your help to take care of “orphaned” cubs? Or have you “adopted” a lion? You could be supporting this rapidly growing business unknowingly.

Having recently watched “Blood Lions,” a documentary that exposes the multi million dollar captive lion and canned lion industry, I was heartbroken and deeply disturbed not only by how these carnivores are treated and killed “legally” but by how little the public know about what is happening in our very own back yard. The film is by director / filmmaker Nick Chevalier, conservationist / journalist Ian Michler, director / writer Bruce Young and Rick Swayze – an American who poses as a trophy hunter

According to www.bloodlions.org every single day 2 to 3 lions are being killed in canned hunts. “The ‘canned hunting’ industry for lions has increased dramatically in recent years and the total value generated from hunting captive lions amounted to about R98 million in 2006/2007." Lion BMP, 2015” according to the Endangered Wildlife Trust. In addition hundreds more are slaughtered for the lion bone trade in Asia.

In comparison today there are only approximately 2300 free roaming lions in reserves and parks according to the Endangered Wildlife Trust [Draft Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for Lions, 2015], sadly a fraction of the captive lion industry.

Each year thousands of tourists are deceived into thinking that handling captive carnivores, volunteering their time to care for “orphaned” cubs and assisting financially with their care is educational and contributing to conservation of lions. However this is supporting a business that has no impact on the conservation of the species and impacts negatively on South Africa as a brand. Captive lion breeding is uncontrolled and unethical; lions become human imprinted and genetically impaired, and are unable to be released into the wild despite what carnivore breeding facilities may say.

There is no conservation in keeping lions captive. 

Following the recent story of Cecil the lion who was killed by an American dentist in Zimbabwe and having watched “Blood Lion” I feel it is time to empower and educate myself and others, confirming Head On Design’s philosophy that we need to appreciate our natural heritage and make conscious decisions about what we buy and organisations we support

So what can you do? Educate yourself and others about the captive lion and canned lion industry by watching Ian Michler’s documentary “Blood Lions” and getting involved in the campaign at www.bloodlions.org. Support organisations like Endangered Wildlife Trust and Campaign Against Canned Hunting but more importantly… be a responsible tourist. 

Watch the Blood Lions trailer 

For every purchase of a Head On Design lion trophy head we will donate 10% of the proceeds to Blood Lions and the Endangered Wildlife Trust 
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Many thanks to James Gradwell for providing us with beautiful images of lions in the wild. James offers photographic tours and supports responsible tourism. Visit www.jamesgradwell.com

#responsibletourism #bloodlions #bredforthebullet #endangeredwildlifetrust #conservation