All it takes is a few ethically illiterate fools with money to create a brutal industry based on routine cruelty. meet Mr Green, Mayor of Wellington, Texas.
Give Groupon SA your support
Groupon SA have contacted us to invoke the support of the animal welfare community in identifying unethical lion exploitation resorts or tourism facilities. They should be applauded for adopting an ethical stance on which facilities they should not promote.
In response to emails from CEO Wayne Gosling and Western Cape account manager Carl Erasmus, we responded:
Thanks Carl and Wayne for your ethical concerns.
As I explained to Carl, drawing the line between good and bad facilities is not exact or easy; there are plenty of shades of grey between black and white.
The best list we know is our Canadian colleague Carmen Berdan's page Volunteers in Africa Beware.
Hope this helps, but I cannot deny that you have a tough task and will never be able to keep everyone happy.
We'll help as much as we can.
Carl had earlier written:
It is with great appreciation for your cause that we formally send you this letter of support. This is to insure we align our business to your cause by asking you for advice when it comes to us featuring any lion related services on our website.
His email was backed up by a letter from CEO Wayne Gosling, pledging to fully support our efforts and to use our website and advice to ensure that Groupon supports the right industries. ‘We hope to build a strong relationship with CACH in efforts to stop canned lion hunting.’
So, if you see Groupon advertising a facility which you believe is linked to the canned hunting industry, eg by breeding and offering cub petting, please don’t shout at Groupon.
Do your homework, and find out as much as you can from us and other sources so that you can give them convincing reasons to withdraw their support for that facility.
Let’s work with Groupon SA. We can help each other – for the lions’ sake.
Let’s talk about hunting as a form of entertainment.
Hunters intrude in to a natural environment in order to inflict suffering and death upon helpless animals – for fun.
1. They claim to be doing it for conservation. They lie. They do it for entertainment; because they enjoy stalking and killing. True conservation means protecting animals, not killing them.
2. They claim that hunting is the only way to save Africa’s wildlife. They lie. That is like arguing that the only way to save whales is by whaling.
3. They claim that hunting creates jobs. They lie. Hunting causes rural unemployment. When land is taken out of agricultural production in order to provide entertainment, jobs are lost. Ten thousand farms now provide entertainment, not food. Partly due to this change in land use, the rural labour force has dropped from 1,6 million to just over 600,000. SA has lost a million jobs in the rural economy.
4. They claim to bring billions of dollars in to the country. Again, look at the whole Balance Sheet on land use to see how misleading this claim is. Bring to account the loss of forex caused by the change from agriculture to entertainment. Last year, SA produced 4 million kgs less wool for export, owing to the change in land use. And that is just wool!
5. Hunters claim to have increased wildlife numbers from the point where some species (like rhino) were at risk of extinction. They lie. First, it was the hunting fraternity itself that wiped out our wildlife, bringing game numbers to an alarming low point. So now the hunters want credit for saving animals from themselves. A typical extortion racket!
6. No, this is the true story. Having all but wiped out our wildlife in the wild, the hunters had to turn to captive breeding on fenced game farms in order to provide a constant supply of living targets for their entertainment. Those animals may look wild but they are not. They have become livestock, being bred like sheep or cattle for slaughter. The hunters have taken the ‘wild’ out of our wildlife.
7. These animals no longer evolve against other species as they would in a natural functioning eco-system. They are being farmed as alternative livestock. And boasting about the increase in the numbers of fenced-in, captive-bred animals is as silly as boasting about the increased numbers of prisoners in SA prisons; as if that proves that we are a healthier society.
We know from studies published by IUCN that hunting is a wasteful use of land. Vast tracts of national land – about 20% - are set aside to provide entertainment, mostly for wealthy foreigners.
Is this a necessary – or even desirable - land use?
So who is ignorant enough to swallow hunting propaganda hook, line and sinker?
Why, the SA government, of course. Edna Molewa and SA conservation structures all support hunting as if it were a tool of conservation, and not a major threat to it.
Any intelligent person can see that hunting is to conservation what pornography is to art – a ghastly parody of the real thing.
And claiming that the only way to save our wildlife heritage is to kill majestic animals is as crazy as arguing that the only way to save art is by destroying the Mona Lisa.
It’s all about loving lions, say the canned lion breeders.
CACH threatened to sue for defamation in response to a particularly nasty piece of hunting propaganda by SAPA (S.A. Predators Association). Their reply was defiant:
“You have made it your life’s work to devastate the life’s work of our members and with it the livelihood of thousands of workers and their dependents. Just like you, Mr Mercer, our Association and its members love the African lion.”
Now this is a strange kind of love, when the farmer breeds lions for commercial gain, to be used as living targets by gun-toting or bow-wielding thugs who enjoy inflicting suffering and death on helpless animals for fun. I would say that their lion farming is an industry based not on love for animals, but rather upon routine cruelty to animals.
If there is any love, I see only a love of money.
The original article by SAPA’s Chairman, Prof. Potgieter, was entitled ‘9 Myths about captive bred lions’ and was published here:
A number of fatuous claims were made in this bit of gutter journalism, which attempts to portray lion farmers in S.A. as wonderful conservationists, having only the interests of lions at heart.
Bear in mind that this same organisation, SAPA, won their court case against the Minister responsible for Conservation (when he tried to impose a 24-month wilding rule upon the industry) on the legal basis that they were not conservationists, that what they were doing had nothing to do with conservation, and that therefore the Minister of Conservation had no authority over their agricultural enterprise.
So while they are trying to escape regulation, the lion farmers deny vigorously that they are conservationists, but when they are trying to paint lipstick on a pig in the media then they pose as the most wonderful conservationists – and animal lovers.
SAPA complains that CACH is committed to “devastating the livelihood of thousands of workers on lion farms”.
Hmnn..imagine if we were campaigning against drug dealers, rather than animal abusers. Would we then be accused of ‘devastating the livelihoods’ of all those heroin and crack dealers and their dependants?
Surely the real question is whether the industry is harmful or not. And if it is, then the workers must join the rest of society and look for honest employment.
In the case of lion farming, “thousands of workers” could be better employed growing food for the nation, rather than helping to abuse animals for sick entertainment.
CACH’s main issue with the article related to the defamatory allegations. The whole theme of the article is that the people speaking out against the cruelty of lion farming and canned lion hunting are not motivated by genuine animal welfare concerns, but rather by sordid commercial ones. The tedious repetition about Donate buttons on websites is used to drive that message home.
We – Bev and I - have been campaigning against canned hunting for sixteen years and it has cost us much of our life savings. Only recently, since the Global March for Lions in 2014, have any meaningful contributions come in from the public. We are all volunteers; none of us draws a salary, and activists who are invited to join our group are specifically told – in writing – that they are only expected to raise awareness, not funds. Recently, we sold our house in order to start a CACH project, namely a wildlife sanctuary in the Klein Karoo.
To publish an article saying that the real motivation for our work is cynical fundraising is false, and demeaning.
We asked for a retraction and an apology. The blunt answer was that none would be forthcoming.
Canned Lions - Fear and Loathing in the Free State capital.
Since the Walter Palmer hunting debacle in Zimbabwe last year (the controversial and unethical killing of Cecil the lion) and the world-wide screening of the documentary Blood Lions, the lion trophy hunting industry has found itself under fire from an increasingly
environmentally aware public.
With wild lion populations showing signs of acute decline across the African continent, South Africa’s burgeoning captive-raised lion industry stands alone as the top contender for the 'con' in conservation award.
Many criticise trophy hunting industry stake-holders for their brutal cruelty towards the species. Available export details and investigative analysis by Karl Ammann and others shows South Africa’s predator industry is also actively involved in promoting and supplying lion and tiger body parts and bones to the Asian market, as well as perpetuating a demand for the killing of wild lions, whether legally or illegally.
Some hunting record books no longer recognise canned or captive raised lions as record-setting trophies, so fame and glory seekers like infamous US dentist Walter Palmer seek out the biggest and the strongest wild lions as the “ultimate” trophy in their quest to satisfy their egos.
When US Fish & Wildlife Service announced that as of January 22 2016, all American trophy hunters would have to file additional permits before they could import their trophies from Africa, many conservationists (mistakenly) believed that lion hunts would be reduced.
So when a Free State lion-breeding operation put 61 captive-bred lions on a catalogue auction this month, it made wildlife industry headlines. It was to be a massive lion sale, even by South African lion industry standards.
Advertised by South Africa’s biggest wildlife-game auctioneer, Vleissentraal, the auction was held last Wednesday at the Olivia Private Game Reserve near Bloemfontein, and saw 61 lions and two leopards go under the hammer.
Olivia markets itself as the ideal N1 stopover, weekend getaway, wedding venue, and team-building conference location for that perfect corporate or private function.
However, closer inspection revealed the dark underbelly of the happy pleasure resort. Olivia runs breeding programs for White Lion, White Bengal Tiger as well as Black Leopard.
One potential buyer who asked not to be named, told us he previewed some of the animals before the auction kicked into gear, but decided at the last minute not to risk buying.
“As a breeder, I felt I would rather wait, and if necessary, even spend R10 000 more for animals with parentage I could verify. In this game, the cardinal rule is buyer beware”.
“Some of the lions we were shown appeared to have physical defects, genetically speaking," he added, "and there was no way of checking the lineage of the stock. The terms and conditions set out by the auction house were loaded in the sellers’ favour.”
(Judge for yourself by looking at this two-minute undercover video taken at the sale. Check out the strange short-legged one-eyed tiger, typical result of reckless inbreeding):
Asked to describe the setting, he described the lion enclosures as ten to fifteen hectares of electrified high-fencing with hardly a tree in sight for shade from the scorching African sun.
With nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide, it sounded like battery lion-breeding on an industrial scale. Hundreds of lions, both white and tawny, some with red skin-tones and sought after black manes.
Despite the large reported attendance, our sources confirm most of the lions sold on site were bought by only a handful of buyers, including a couple of invisible telephone buyers.
While the bidding was brisk, most final offers only just met minimum reserve prices, and some experts believe that the average prices fetched at the auction were indicative of inferior genetics and possible in-breeding.
By the time the hammer fell on two leopards at SAR58,000 each, the last lot of the day, just over R2 million had changed hands.
Notable amongst those reportedly rubbing shoulders at the auction, were:
Kobus Van der Westhuizen of Letsatsi La Afrika, a controversial predator trader and lion-bone exporter,
Casper van der Merwe of Paemenons Safaris, a North West lion hunting-outfitter
Bethlehem lion breeder and trader Maryn Prinsloo,
Marius Prinsloo, her former lion-farmer husband ,who arrived separately.
Free State game-breeder and hunting outfitter, Marnus Steyl, who was charged for his role in the Chumlong Lemtongthai pseudo-rhino-hunting scam in North West Province.
Those wonderful Australians again.
CACH received a substantial donation this week of SAR 25,000. from an Australian donor. That is significant in itself, but what makes this donation so exciting is that the funds were raised by a 15 year old.
Meet Edward Bourke, who founded his very own registered Foundation last year - when he was 14 years old. See www.savingthelion.org
"I was 14 when I started Saving The Lion Foundation (I am now 15), because I saw a huge lack in public awareness, around the plight of the lion in the wild, and in captivity, for example, bad zoos such as Lujan Zoo in Argentina, and Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka. We have been very lucky to have such amazing support from the public, which has helped us become one of the worlds leading organisations, for raising awareness around the plight of the lion in the wild, and in captivity.
In the last year, I have also met with Greg Hunt MP (Australian Federal Minister for the Environment), and Jason Wood MP (Federal Member for La Trobe), who are helping us work against the Lion Bone trade, which has become very popular in China, with the advent of a crackdown on tiger bone. Both Minister Hunt and Mr. Wood, have become Ambassadors for our foundation, and are amazing conservationists.
I have learned so much since becoming involved with conservation, and animal welfare, and I have had the pleasure of working with amazing people. Fighting for the lion is something that I love, and something I will always do."
Photo above is the latest pic of George, the rescued Spanish lion cub.
There is a lot of buying of lions taking place under the banner of rescue. Often as not, the begging bowls then come out, and animal lovers are subjected to moral blackmail, in the form of: 'donate to us or we'll have to put them down.'
Campaign Against Canned Hunting will not be part of any such undesirable practices. Recall that CJ and Luis went the extra mile to get the Spanish authority SEPRONA to confiscate the two street cubs, before we all brought them out to Kevin's sanctuary as Yame and George.
CACH has its own wildlife rescue centre, Karoo WC, and this is the Animal Acquisition Policy which governs it:
3.2. Animal acquisition policy
No AWC sanctuary shall, without compelling reason, purchase or give any kind of consideration, whether directly or indirectly (e.g. swopping of animals, acceptance of services etc) in the process of acquiring any animal.
Ideally, no AWC sanctuary would purchase or provide compensation as a condition of acquiring any animal. All animals in an AWC sanctuary should have been confiscated by relevant authorities, surrendered or donated by the person/s holding the animals. AWC members agree to make every effort to educate such person/s in a positive and interactive way, not to take animals out of their natural environment.
However, circumstances alter cases, and it may sometimes be necessary for a sanctuarian to purchase animals, to save their lives or to remove them from intolerable conditions. Animals are often purchased from intolerable circumstances. eg chained monkeys. Even the internationally respected Animals Asia Foundation has had to rescue hundreds of Chinese Moon bears by purchase.
When doing so the sanctuary should bear in mind that by doing so it is promoting the keeping of animals in captivity, and that it should try to strike a balance between the welfare of the particular animal and the broader interest of animal protection. Care must be taken that sanctuaries do not create a market place for the trade in indigenous wildlife. Working with Police, NSPCA and conservation authorities to remove an animal from poor conditions to a reputable AWC sanctuary without payment is a better option.
By US CACH representative Dr Ian Giles.
The United States needs our help. Most Americans do not understand the value of wildlife. So:
Both groups recently passed the 2000 member mark and are very active.
There is a huge amount of education required, and who better to do it than us?
So please join us if you are not already active.
Jade, the carer at Kevin Richardson's Sanctuary, writes:
I thought I’d just send through a few photos of George and Yame for everyone to see how big and beautiful they are now. As I'm sure you know, they will be turning 2 in April, and are really starting to look like big lions.
Their manes are coming in nicely (even George has a beautiful mane, though not as big as his brothers just yet). George is also still doing VERY well on his current supplement regime, and will be heading off to the vet again in March for his follow-up x-rays to determine the changes in bone growth and density.
They still enjoy their weekly outings into the reserve, and Yame, in the wetter weather has taken to puddle jumping to pass the time. No matter how small it is, he simply can’t resist. He then proceeds to jump all over George or us, covering us in mud from head to toe.
They have spent the last 2 months at the main sanctuary with our big lions, and have since started to attempt to roar. It’s really sweet, and soft, but Im sure they’ll have found their voices in no time.
Other than that things are pretty much the same, and they have settled into the sanctuary very well. The boys are used to their routine, and are thriving. I will write again soon with any other news on the boys.
Pictures courtesy of Briana Overacker.
Trophy Hunting and the new USFW Rule.
United States Fish and Wildlife (USFW) has changed the rules relating to the import of lion trophies into USA.
Most animal welfare orgs have reported the news superficially e.g. "On December 23, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that lions in central and western Africa will be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, while lions in southern and eastern Africa will be classified as threatened—meaning that the importation of the heads, tails, and skins of lions like Cecil will be prohibited, except in limited circumstances. This new rule will undoubtedly reduce the number of lions shot by cruel hunters, such as Walter Palmer, who kill these sensitive, social animals just to hang their body parts on their walls."
Such a paragraph hardly does justice to a 230 page document, and is misleading. It confuses the intention with the execution. It will not reduce the number of tame lions shot which in SA represent 99% of all lions hunted – in fact, it does not deal with farmed lions at all.
However, the hunting industry is also uncertain about the scope of such a comprehensive and scientific study, and is anxious to know how it will impact its profits.
This is what Safari Club International (SCI) sent out to its members:
For Immediate Release
SCI Membership Alert on the FWS African lion listing
On December 21, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a final rule to list African lions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule, which was published in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015 lists African lions as two separate subspecies – Panthera leo leo, found in western and central Africa, and Panthera leo melanochaita, found in southern and eastern Africa. Lions in western and central Africa will be listed as endangered, while southern and eastern Africa lions will be listed as threatened. The rule goes into effect on January 22, 2016.
Together with the listing rule, the FWS issued a special “4(d) rule” that will require ESA permits for the importation of threatened lions harvested from eastern and southern Africa. These permits will be required for all lions hunted on or after January 22, 2016. The FWS will need to make enhancement findings before they will issue any such permits. It is not yet clear when or how the FWS will issue these permits or make the required determination that hunting and subsequent importation enhances the survival of the species. (my emphasis)
According to the FWS, lions hunted before January 22, 2016 will not need an ESA permit for importation. Hunters should ensure that they document the date when their lion was hunted. This can be with a hunting license, notarized letter, or similar official documentation that proves the lion was harvested before January 22, 2016.
Safari Club International is still in the process of reviewing the 230-page listing rule and will provide further information when our analysis is complete. The final rule and additional information can be found here.
SCI President Larry Higgins today expressed his displeasure with the Obama Administration’s final listing rule and rule requiring permits to import lions. “Clearly, the White House is attempting to prevent U.S. hunters from engaging in lion hunting,” said Higgins. “We will look to challenge parts of the rule as appropriate, but this battle will not be resolved quickly. The Administration is imposing restrictions and obstacles that will not help lions, but will block U.S. hunters from participating in sustainable use conservation. Sadly, the rural communities of Africa that embrace hunting as part of their local economies will also suffer with the loss of U.S. hunters. As a result, local communities could lose their incentives to participate in lion conservation and as a result more lions will potentially die from poaching, animal control and retaliatory killings than hunters could ever take.”
* * * *
Confused? You should be.
Here is what you need to know about the new Rule:
* USFW has done its homework here. This is a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the plight of the African (and Indian) lion.
* USFW accepts that African governments are generally too incompetent and corrupt to be trusted to protect their own wildlife heritage. (It uses less blunt language)
* Further, and most importantly, USFW finds overwhelming evidence that the hunting fraternity has so little regard for conservation imperatives, such as widespread abuse of quotas, that trophy hunting has become a major threat to lion conservation in Africa. (my emphasis)
* Accordingly, USFW will now require U.S hunters to obtain an import permit for their lion trophies before the hunts take place. i.e. the burden of proof is now on the hunter to prove that his proposed hunt will enhance the survival of lions.
* Specifically, the hunter will have to show that his hunt will have a beneficial effect on one or more of the three major threats, namely, loss of habitat, loss of prey base and human/animal conflict.
Alas, this all looks so impressive on paper, but it will be all too easy, with the eager cooperation of captured African conservation structures, for hunters to obtain their enhancement certificates. Big Money talks louder than USFW in Africa.
At the very least, this is a clever public relations coup for USFW. USFW can claim to be protecting lions (which it is not); can claim to be supporting weak African conservation structures (which it is not) and can claim to be controlling the hunting industry (which it is not). Other than adding a layer of bureaucracy to the foreign trophy hunter’s paperwork, and infuriating the hunting thugs, nothing will change on the ground. Canned lion hunting will continue unabated.
Although most decent people object to hunting because of the senseless cruelty, the word ‘cruelty’ does not appear in all 230 pages of text. So USFW has not yet come to understand that hunting is to conservation what pornography is to art – but it is moving towards that realization.
USFW has been convinced that, provided trophy hunting is well regulated and scientifically applied with regard to herd and pride dynamics, it can be a tool of conservation. Namely, it can fill the vacuum left by the lamentable failure of African governments to protect their remaining wilderness. Short of neo-colonising African conservation structures, USFW has the good intention to impose better governance on African conservation services by the new Rule. (Isn’t the road to Hell supposed to be paved with good intentions?)
But the hunting industry has certainly been put on notice by the new Rule: ‘Get your act together boys, or you can expect the next step to be a total ban on the import of all lion trophies.’
It is going to happen, for sure. The trend is clear.