In South Africa, thousands of lion cubs are being bred for tourists to cuddle, to play with, to walk with – and for hunters to slaughter. For them, the circle of life is a tragedy. But, how many know of this massacre?
In 62 cities around the world, lion lovers hope to change that. Thousands will be marching to expose this atrocity, to put a face on this well-kept secret. It’s estimated there are 2700 wild lions in South Africa, yet there are over 8000 behind bars in fenced compounds, waiting to be shot for a price.
Where did all these lions come from? Lionesses are bred to produce cubs that tourists enjoy playing with, bottle feeding, help caring for, and photographing. When the cubs are a bit older, tourists will pay to “walk with the lions,” an experience many tour operators bill as a “thrill of a lifetime.” When the tourists leave, do they ever wonder what happens to all these lions?
The reality is that, once the lionesses are spent from breeding, they go on the ‘kill list’ for trophy hunting or for the bone trade. Once the sub-adult lions are too big to “walk with,” they’re crammed into overcrowded cages, living in atrocious conditions. When mature, they’re moved to fenced camps, a/k/a canned hunting facilities, where hunters from all over the world come to easily kill one of the “Big Five.”
Raised by man, trusting man, these lions are urged out into an open contained area, unsure of what’s happening to them until they feel their bodies pierced by arrows or bullets. They die an agonizing death, while the hunter is happy to check this off his or her bucket list and mount their head on the wall.
This is the lions' circle of life and death in South Africa. This is how you can help make it stop and lend them your voice:
1. Attend the Global March for Lions in a city near you. Find out where here.
2. Write the US Fish & Wildlife Service here asking they raise the status of lions to "endangered" in order to curtail importation of lion trophies.
3. Write to the S.African government urging they end this industry. All S.African conservation authority's emails can be found here
4. Inform tourism agencies in your town why they should only send their clients to ethical locations and share this info with friends you know visiting S. Africa.
5. Do not engage in cub petting or lion walking - ever!
6. Do not volunteer to work with or take care of lion cubs.
7. Ask celebrities to help raise awareness of the S. African canned hunting industry. Post on their social media.
8. Spread the word of what is happening to lions in South Africa by sharing photos, videos, and posts on your social media accounts.
9. Google and write to S.African Embassies/Consulates in your country asking them to end this industry.
10. Show your support for lions by using #GlobalMarch4Lions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.