JOHANNESBURG: South Africa will ban the hunting of lions and rhinoceros that are bred to be shot by tourists from 1 June, threatening an industry that has as many as 5,000 of the big cats in captivity.
The practice, known as “canned hunting,” has attracted opposition from environmental groups and was the subject of a documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
“We are putting to an end, once and for all, to the reprehensible practice of canned hunting,” Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s environment minister, said on 21 February on his ministry’s website. “The regulations specifically prohibit hunting large predators and rhinoceros that are” bred to be released and killed within two years.
South African lion breeding has ballooned in the past decade to cater for tourist demand for hunting trips in which reared lions are shot after being released into the wild.
The industry is largely unregulated. The nation has about 300 breeders, keeping about 5,000 cats worth as much as 200,000 rand (Rs12.45 lakh) each. South Africa has about 2,700 wild lions.
“This is a serious blow,” said Carla van der Vyver, a divisional manager for the conservation department of the Bophirima area, where two-thirds of South Africa’s lion breeding takes place. “It’s going to have a snowball effect, people will be fired, taxidermists will have less business and fewer donkeys will be bought from local communities” to feed the lions.
A male lion can eat 95 pounds (43kg) of meat in a single meal, according to the website of the University of Minnesota’s Lion Research Centre. It will normally consume about 20 pounds a day.
The hunting of captive lions attracted adverse attention to South Africa in 1997 when the BBC’s Cook Report programme showed a lioness being shot next to a fence, on the other side of which were her cubs.