Cuddly tourism or canned hunted or both? Lion tourism in South Africa
Visitors on the green lawn of the Weltevrede Lion Farm are being allowed to pet Lisa, an eight-week-old lion cub with unusual coloring. Lisa was two weeks old when she was taken from her mother.
“To make them manageable you have to do this,” explains Christiaan, who is leading visitors on a tour of the grounds. When cubs are born here, on this lion farm in Vrystaat, a province of South Africa, “each employee is assigned to bottle-feed one of them,” says Christiaan. “You can buy a cub for 40,000 rand (€3,400, or $4,455).” A delighted visitor asks whether she can take a lion baby into her room at night. It can be arranged, promises the guide.
Lisa’s father, a grown specimen with a stately mane who lives in the enclosure, can be had for about €20,000. Roughly 2,000 lions are kept in captivity in Vrystaat alone, where they are bred for a practice called “canned hunting.” It’s a diversion that executives at major German companies have been known to enjoy. The king of the animals has fallen on hard times in his own kingdom. “In all of South Africa, there are almost as many lions behind bars as in the wild,” says Fiona Miles of the Vrystaat chapter of the international animal rights group Four Paws, which has been unsuccessful in its efforts to protest the hunting of animals that are somewhat tame and are sometimes even drugged to keep them calm. “As a first step to ban canned hunting,” Miles is calling for a moratorium on the breeding of lions.
To read more about canned hunting and the links to ‘walking with lion experiences’ read here. For more on this story click here.