The canned hunting industry has been thriving for decades in South Africa. This is a business where game breeders receive outrageous amounts of money from rich thrill-seekers, mostly foreign tourists, to place captured or bred game in enclosures where they could be easily be shot to death as trophies.
The unfortunate lions at Ingogo Safaris, South Africa, are objects of this insane cruelty. Located in the Limpopo province, Cape Town, the farm is owned by Walter Slippers who runs a breeding farm, a hunting farm, and a coffee shop. In 2016, photos of the 250 emaciated and malnourished lions bred on the farm surfaced online.  The skeletal frames of the wild beasts could be clearly seen since they were starved and neglected for a long time.
A neighbor who lives on the adjoining property took photos of the lions and sent them to Drew Abrahamson, CEO of Captured in Africa Foundation.
“Some images surfaced about two years back when he used to have volunteers on his property,” Abrahamson said to the Dodo.  “There were two lions in the images drinking water; they were also incredibly underweight, so I think it’s a case of neglect as a whole. You wouldn’t expect captive lions to be [so] thin that their hip bones protrude.”
He claims his negligence was due to poor health
In an interview with Traveller 24, Slippers claims that he had been in the hospital after a heart attack since November 2015 and got out of rehab in January.  He has no helping hands on the farm and has been unable to properly cater to the animals.
“While I was in the hospital the community helped me; I don’t have brothers or a father who could help me while I was in the hospital,” Slippers said.
Investigations were carried out shortly after by South Africa’s NSPCA (National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Wildlife Protection Unit. According to the manager of the unit, Isabel Wentzel, Slippers had said the photos were old and were taken when he was still in rehab. He insisted that his lions were not malnourished.
However, the NSPCA unit discovered several underweight and malnourished lions on his farm. According to Wentzel, since not all the lions were underweight, they let Slippers off with an official warning to be followed up with regular inspections.
“What we’ve done is we’ve worked with local SPCA in Louis Trichardt, Makhado — who has visited the farm,” Wentzel said. “We’ve been to all the facilities and although not all the lions are underweight, we have issued an official warning.”
“When you look at these lions, you can see scars on their faces, meaning it is most likely an issue of fighting for food. It is not a case of feeding them and they will recover straight away; it is going to be a recovery process.”
Canned hunting of captivity-bred lions: Legal yet immoral
Most people are uncertain of the legalities surrounding canned hunting and game hunting in Africa, especially in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Canned hunting is illegal in South Africa. However, it’s permitted only when practiced with lions bred in captivity.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare reported there are between 6,000 to 8,000 lions kept in captivity in South Africa in about 200 ranches.
“All the lion hunting in South Africa is supposed to be with permits, and those are regulated hunts that have to be done to certain criteria,” said Carla van der Vyver, chief executive of the South African Predator Association (SAPA) to BBC.  “If such activity has happened and it was not done according to permit regulations, it is definitely not a thing that SAPA will support.”
Although the canned hunting of captivity-bred lions is legal, the practice is still wrong, completely immoral, and unfair. Wild lions are rapidly disappearing in South Africa while the population of soon-to-killed captivity-bred lions continues to grow.
To control the situation, the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), put it to a vote and the majority agreed not to participate in canned hunting of captivity-bred lions unless the conditions are in line with SAPA’s regulations. Members have been completely prohibited from engaging in canned hunting of wild lions.
“It is time for attention to be brought to the breeders and hunters individually, so they cannot hide behind industry as a whole,” Abrahamson wrote. “It’s time they face the music with regards to their exploitation.”
Image Credits: The Dodo
- “250 starving lions found in raid on trophy hunting farm.” The Times UK. Stuart Graham. July 8,2016.
- “Photos Show Lions Starving At Nightmare Breeding Farm.” The Dodo. Zainab Akande. July 13, 216.
- “PICS: Limpopo lion breeder warned about cruelty of underweight lions.” Traveller 24. Selene Brophy. July 8, 2016.
- ” Are lion hunters in South Africa shooting tame animals?” BBC. Alastair Leithead. September 9, 2016.