Lord Ashcroft, a UK businessman and the former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, has made some shocking revelations regarding the “Canned lion hunting” industry in South Africa after commissioning a year-long investigation, codenamed Operation Simba.
The investigation involved “former Special Forces and security operatives” who infiltrated lion breeding in South Africa, Ashcroft said. The result was a disturbing insight into the full horrors and illegal practices linked to “lion farming”.
Thousands of lions are purposefully bred every year in order to be killed in trophy hunts or to be slaughtered for their bones which are then sold on to countries in the Far East and China, to be used in traditional medicines and aphrodisiacs.
There are no official statistics, however it is estimated that the captive lion population in South Africa exceeds 12,000 individual animals, which is 4 times more than the current wild population inside the country’s borders.
“The captive-bred lion industry shames South Africa – indeed it shames us all,” said Lord Ashcroft.
“By allowing such a barbaric practice, the South African Government is harming the reputation of a country that treasures its position on the international stage in the aftermath of apartheid. Captive-bred lion farming in abusive and horrific.”
Lord Ashcroft has published various articles on “lion farming’ and his revelations were made public by various newspapers in the UK in late April.
Revelations from Operation Simba include:
- Wealthy potential hunters are sent images of captive male lions via WhatsApp. Out of which they are able to make a choice as to which they’d like to kill. Prices range from £10k to over £42k ($12k-$52k), depending on the size of the lion and the quality of its mane.
- ‘Green hunts’ are promoted as an alternative form of hunting where the hunter gets to experience “the thrill without the kill”. A banker from the UK, was filmed shooting an exhausted lion with tranquiliser darts after having chased the animal with a 4×4.
- A representative from a South African Safari company advised one of the undercover operatives that he could bypass the US ban on importing captive-bred lion trophies by first importing it to the UK and then hiding it inside the skin of a dear in order move it into America.
- More than 50 lions were slaughtered for their bones at a so-called “eco-farm” in South Africa’s Free State province in just two days. Photographic evidence showed the horrific conditions in which the lions were kept before their slaughter. The pictures showed lion skeletons and innards littering the floor, while discarded internal body parts were piled high in overflowing black plastic bags on a trailer outside.
- In order to boost growth rates and to further maximise profits, it is alleged that lions are being crossbred with tigers in order to create larger hybrid offspring. A tiger cross-breed, he says, can achieve the bone mass of a 9-year-old lion in just three years.
- Global tourists are unknowingly encouraging the trade by paying to take photos and walk with lion cubs. Almost all of which are ‘bred for the bullet’
Lord Ashcroft has called on the South African Government to put a stop to “lion farming” which he describes as “horrific and abusive” and of zero conservation value.
WATCH Lord Ashcroft’s visit to South Africa and the Horrors of Lion Farming!