Time to end ‘canned hunting’ of lions: it's nothing more than a violent recreational activity for wealthy, bored individuals

It's reprehensible that some people still think we have the right to force animals into corners to be killed


On Saturday, people around the world in more than 50 countries marched in protest against the merciless killing of white lions in so-called “canned hunts”. The hope is that this united global action will convince South African President Jacob Zuma to put an end to this barbaric and nasty “sport”.

Canned hunts are nothing more than pre-packaged slaughters. Lions are confined to fenced areas so that they can easily be cornered, with no chance of escape. Most of them will have been bred in captivity and then taken from their mothers to be hand-reared by the cub-petting industry. When they get too big, they may be drugged before they are released into a "hunting" enclosure.

It takes no skill or strength for "trophy" hunters – what a ghastly term! – to track down and kill these beautiful animals. Having been hand-reared by humans, they are accustomed to our presence. Heartbreakingly, it's not uncommon for animals to trot trustingly toward canned hunters for a handout of food. Because these animals are usually kept in fenced enclosures (ranging in size from just a few square yards to thousands of acres), they never stand a chance of escaping, fighting back or surviving, and many endure prolonged, painful deaths.

Canned hunts are big business in Africa, where large private landowners allow hunters to pay thousands of pounds to kill not just white lions but also elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, zebra, hippos, deer, antelope – you name it. Most hunting occurs on private land, where laws that protect wildlife don't apply or are difficult to enforce. Many of these for-profit ranches operate on a "no-kill, no-pay" policy, so it's in the owners' financial interests to ensure that clients get what they came for.


Although it may have been part of humans' survival 100,000 years ago, hunting is now nothing more than a violent form of recreation for wealthy, bored individuals. It has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk. Who can forget the ear-to-ear smile of serial animal killer Melissa Bachman, which incited outrage around the world from people who could not comprehend how anyone could feel joy, much less pride, from deliberately snuffing out a life? But that's little consolation to the dead lion and other animals who are just trying to go about their business before being blasted to bits with high-calibre weapons that have scopes and infrared sights.

Well into the 21st century, it's reprehensible that some people still think we have the right to force animals into corners to be shot and killed for a fleeting diversion. How does mounting a glassy-eyed dead head on the wall prove that a person is brave and strong? (Hint: It doesn't.) Real strength lies in protecting those who are weaker.

A lesser-known connection to canned-hunt ranches is that many zoos sell "surplus" animals, even endangered species, to private buyers. They conveniently ignore the fact that many of these animals are then sold to game ranches. Indeed, some zoos bypass an intermediary altogether and openly sell animals directly to auctions or canned-hunt organisers. So the next time you think about visiting a zoo, keep in mind that the animals bred and incarcerated behind those walls may end their short, miserable lives with a bullet through the brain, just to satisfy someone's sick sense of "amusement".

In any case, no captive-bred lion, white or orange, will ever be released into the wild. The large sums of money wasted on breeding in zoos would be more responsibly directed toward legitimate conservation groups working to end canned hunts and to address other factors contributing to the decline of lions in the wild.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam