Hunting of lions bred in captivity and released into the wild to be shot for trophies is on the rise in South Africa, according to a Huffington Post report.
Hunters pay as much as $38,000 for the experience of shooting lions raised legally on 160 African farms, resulting in a long-running controversy among hunters, captive breeders and animal rights advocates, the report says.
The practice is known as canned lion hunting and its popularity has increased in recent years. The South African Supreme Court in 2010 struck down a law restricting it after lion breeders challenged legislation.
For five years ending in 2006, 1,830 lion trophies were exported from South Africa, the report says. That number increased for the five years ending in 2011, with 4,062 trophies exported. The vast majority were captive-bred animals, the report says.
“The principle that you breed wild animals for economic exploitation is an international norm. It takes place everywhere in the world,” said Pieter Potgieter, chairman of the South African Predator Breeders’ Association, defending canning lion hunting.
South Africa is home to about 8,000 African lions – about a quarter of the world’s population – with half living in captivity, the report says.
Breeders say their business is legitimate. Animal rights advocates at Humane Society International say it’s inhumane, unethical and tarnishes South Africa’s image.
The Campaign Against Canned Hunting called for a ban of the practice in South Africa.