No, Melissa Bachman, South Africans don’t want your blood money. They want their lions alive and well, thank you very much.
Over the weekend, thousands of people in dozens of cities all around the world—including Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, and Sydney—participated in the Global March for Lions, an event intended to raise awareness of South Africa’s shameful canned- hunting industry.
In South Africa, there are currently more lions in captivity than there are in the wild. Just like in the U.S., lion cubs are bred for cheap photo ops, but when they get too big to be handled, they are sold, usually either to zoos or canned-hunting ranches. And just like in the U.S., these breeding programs do nothing to help wild populations, which have plummeted by 90 percent since the ’70s, because tame captive-bred lions cannot be released into the wild.
Hundreds of lions are killed on South African hunting ranches every year, shot by rich hunters who like to claim that the exorbitant fees that they pay for shooting what are essentially tame lions “in a barrel” are going toward “conservation” work. But they’re actually helping to perpetuate the cycle of breeding and discarding captive lions as well as the sale of lion bones and other parts to China.
In a videotaped prayer, Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed his hope that the march would be successful in raising awareness of “[human] predators who go around destroying [God’s] creation, beautiful animals.”
What You Can Do
Don’t patronize businesses run by gun-happy CEOs, such as GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons or Jimmy John’s Jimmy John Liautaud. Never buy a ticket to any zoo, pseudo-sanctuary, “safari park,” or “big-cat encounter” where the animals are being bred or photo ops with cubs are offered. Animals discarded from such operations are often sold at auction to the highest bidder and can wind up anywhere from a cramped cage in a collector’s backyard to a canned-hunting ranch.