Animal protection organization Humane Society International (HSI) exposed the horrific neglect of mange-covered captive bred lions in South Africa.
HSI shared shocking photos from an anonymous source showing severely neglected mange-covered lions at a captive breeding facility in the North West Province of South Africa.
Lion breeding farms in South Africa are part of what campaigners from HSI and Humane Society Africa call the “snuggle scam” because they supply lion cub petting tourist attractions where visitors take pictures with the animals.
According to the investigation, officers at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) entered the facility at Pienika Farm on April 11.
They discovered 108 neglected lions as well as caracal, tigers, and leopards living in horrendous conditions, which provides a shocking insight into the country’s cruel lion trade that breeds an estimated 12,000 lions on around 200 farms across the country.
HSI and Humane Society Africa, which calls for an end to the captive lion breeding industry, praised NSPCA inspectors for their swift action.
Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director at Humane Society International/Africa, said in a statement sent to Vegan World News: “South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry is a vicious cycle of exploitation, from cradle to grave.”
“Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers at just a few days old, to be hand-reared by paying volunteers from countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, who are misled into believing the cubs are orphans.”
Delsink explained that the cubs are exploited their whole lives, from being props by tourists who want to take vacation photos to becoming part of “walking with lion” safaris.
“Once too big and dangerous for these activities, these lions are then killed for their bones which are exported to Asia for traditional medicines, or sold to be killed by trophy hunters largely from the United States in ‘canned’ hunts in which hand-reared lions are shot in a fenced area from which they cannot escape,” Delsink added.
“As well as being barbaric and heartless, a lion colloquium (parliamentary conference) in August last year revealed that the captive breeding of lions is poorly regulated and fraught with welfare and ethical concerns. There is no better evidence of that than the atrocities discovered at the Pienika Farm.”
On May 2, the NSPCA laid charges of contravention to the Animals Protections Act 71 of 1962 against South African Predator Association member and councilman Jan Steinman, who allegedly owns the facility.
Karen Trendler, Manager NSPCA Wildlife Trade & Trafficking Portfolio, said: “The very fact that SAPA has included the word ‘undue’ in its version of the Five Freedoms, an internationally accepted set of animal welfare guidelines, basically suggests that SAPA believes there are justifiable times for an animal to be hungry or thirsty, or suffer from fear, pain or disease, which is totally unacceptable in terms of animal welfare.”
Delsink added: “In the face of so much evidence supporting the significant welfare atrocities and illegal activities, and the bogus standards presented by the industry, the South African government cannot stand idle.”
“We demand that the government shut down this industry once and for all; that is the only way brand South Africa can recover from this significant scourge.”
HSI is encouraging the public to sign their petition and request the South African government’s conservation authority to shut down captive breeding of predators.
“The horrors at Pienika Farm demonstrate that the provincial authorities are failing to regulate this industry in any way,” HSI concluded.