“On 17 May 2019, an Amendment to the Animal Improvement Act, 62 of 1998, was issued by the then Department Of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In this amendment, lion, cheetah, rhino and giraffe have been added to the list of ‘farmable animals’, along with almost 30 other wild animal species.”

Cath Jakins, Blood Lions Coordinator 28 October 2019.

There is something morally wrong when wildlife becomes intensive breeding in captivity.

We all know how awful intensive farming is for farm animals and poultry. There are many campaigns against this type of farming across the world. But in South Africa there are over 200 lion farms breeding lions to be ultimately shot by trophy hunters or deliberately killed for their bones for export to Asia. Investigators estimate that these lion farms are now holding up to 12,000 lions which is a big increase from an estimated 6,000 – 8,000 four years ago. Lions on these farms are now outnumbering wild lions in South Africa almost four-to-one. In an effort to make more money South African farm breeders are crossing lions with tigers in an effort to increase the density and weight of the bones to be exported.  Exporting lion bones abroad is not illegal in South Africa.

Captive lion breeding maybe considered distasteful but it is perfectly legal in South Africa.

There are export quotas set by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). In 2017 the annual lion skeletal bones export quota from farmed lions was set at 800. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Life and Flora (CITES) decided that no bone exports were to come from wild lions. This wasn’t a problem for South Africa because they have such a huge captive-bred lion industry. In 2018 the DEA almost doubled the number of skeletal bones to 1,500. This was done without any research or public consultation. It’s also astounding to think there are inadequate regulations for these captive lion farms and no one seems to know just how many lion farms there are in South Africa!

Lion Farming

Earlier in 2019 one of the most horrific cases of animal neglect in South Africa involved 100 lions and other animals on a captive breeding farm.

The animals found were suffering from disease in overcrowded compounds. Many of the animals were weak and near to death. When National Council for Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) were tipped off, their inspectors visited the farm. On Pienika Farm they found 27 lions suffering from mange who had lost most of their fur. In disgusting, filthy compounds there were as many as 30 animals when these enclosures were meant for two animals. A number of cubs were afflicted with a neurological condition called meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which meant they were unable to walk. Many animals were taken away for treatment but many had to be euthanased.

Pienika Farm is owned by Jan Steinman who was listed on the internet as a council member of the South African Predator Association (SAPA).

Its website calls for ‘Responsible Hunting’, ‘Responsible Breeding’ and ‘Responsible Custodians’. The organisation promotes captive breeding and hunting industry with national and international principles. It encourages members to “maintain high ethical standards”. Obviously this fell on deaf ears in the case of Jan Steinman! It is an organisation, similar to other hunting organisations around the world, where everything they say or do is twisted to support their opinions which are in line with canned hunting and captive lion breeding as a force for good. But somehow they don’t appear to practice what they preach. They attack naturalists, conservationists, charities and scientists from across the world because their humane and scientific beliefs do not coincide with what they think.

By adding wild species like lions to the Animal Improvement Act (AIA), the South African Government is now seen to be promoting intensive captive breeding for purely commercial reasons.

Lion farms are nothing more than unethical and unregulated holdings for lions used in canned hunting and those raised for their skeletal bones. It’s a lucrative business with the killing of a male and female combination ranging from $22,000 and a skeleton fetching around $1,500. Lion bones are sold on by importers for as much as $700-$800 a kilo. When you consider an average lion skeleton weighs about 18 kilos its worth is now about $15,000. The skeletons are then imported into Vietnam and boiled down in large pots to make 100gram bars sold for $1,000 each….


What normally happens with the management of rearing lions for bones is that they are inadequately fed and given no veterinary attention.

Those reared for canned hunting have better welfare because hunters want to shoot healthy and well maintained looking lions for their trophies. Captive Lion Breeding is one of the most dire and outrageous atrocities in the world and we need to tell the tourist industry about this hideous commercial activity. The front end of the commercial enterprise begins with the petting of lion cubs for tourists………the back end is the shocking state of cruelty against lions and needs to be exposed!



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