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Canned Hunting African Lions – Facts Figures Ethics

Updated on September 24, 2015
Photo symbolizing U.S. support of canned lion hunting derived by RG Kernodle from source images
Photo symbolizing U.S. support of canned lion hunting derived by RG Kernodle from source images

Facts On Canned Lion Hunting

According to a ... 2014 statement by Roger Cook ... (who first exposed the canned hunting industry in a 1997 British T.V. show),

Canned hunting:

  • unfairly prevents a lion from escaping the hunter, thus eliminating fair chase and guaranteeing the hunter a trophy,
  • handicaps the lion either by confining it to a small enclosure, or by taking advantage of the fact that it is less fearful of humans than usual as a result of being hand-reared,
  • sometimes incorporates tranquilizing the lion with drugs to make it an easier target,
  • maintains more than 8,000 lions in captivity, being bred ultimately to kill as sport,
  • incorporates the practice of deliberately misleading paid workers into believing that they are helping conservation.

Other practices include:

  • separating lion cubs from the mother lion, which causes emotional trauma to both the mother and her cubs,
  • forcing multiple, unnatural pregnancy cycles in female lions, which produces more lion cubs, and
  • killing surplus female lion cubs from multiple, unnatural litters, because male lions are the target animals that trophy hunters pay to shoot.

Further effects of the captive breeding industry that supplies the canned hunting industry include:

  • inflating wild lion trophy statistics through the practice of exporting captive bred lions to locations classified as wild lion locations, where hunters falsely claim a wild lion trophy and set up false statistics that lead to over estimating future sustainable hunting quotas for wild lions,
  • diverting wild lion conservation measures in areas where populations are in severe decline, and
  • fueling the still burgeoning lion-bone market by creating such a large demand for lion bones that more poachers enter the trade to sell bones more cheaply than captive-bred producers.

SOURCE:
Richard Hargreaves (2010). Countering The Moral And Ethical Argument For Canned Hunting Of Captive Bred Lions In South Africa. JOURNAL OF THE WILDCAT CONSERVATION LEGAL AID SOCIETY, Vol. III.

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Figures On Canned Lion Hunting

Figure 1. Lion Trophy Imports By Country

Graph of lion trophy importing countries, based on CITES data
Graph of lion trophy importing countries, based on CITES data

Figure 2. Captive-Bred Lion Trophy Imports

Graph of lion trophy importing countries (captive-bred sources), based on CITES data
Graph of lion trophy importing countries (captive-bred sources), based on CITES data

Figure 3. Highlighted United States Captive-Bred Lion Trophy Imports

Captive-bred lion trophy imports by country, Table 4. from the report, INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN LION HUNTING TROPHIES, Humane Society International / Humane Society of the United States, February 2007
Captive-bred lion trophy imports by country, Table 4. from the report, INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN LION HUNTING TROPHIES, Humane Society International / Humane Society of the United States, February 2007

Ethics Of Lion Trophy Hunting

To point out the personal fulfilling aspect of trophy hunting is NOT an attempt to trivialize hunting in the least. Instead, pointing out the fulfilling aspect classifies a primary objective in pursuing the activity. Fulfillment is neither trivial nor frivolous - it is a necessary part of insuring a more pleasant human condition. If fulfillment, however, REQUIRES killing as one of its primary elements, then the appropriateness of the behavior providing fulfillment comes into question.

The objection to trophy hunting, therefore, is NOT personal fulfillment. Rather, the objection to trophy hunting is the primary requirement for killing that sets up circumstances enabling personal fulfillment in any one or multiple aspects of trophy hunting.

Part of trophy hunting is enjoying the outdoors, yes, but the objective driving the desire to be outdoors is to kill something, ... in order to possess its lifeless remains.

Part of trophy hunting is exercising one's body or practicing one's skill with a bow and arrow or gun, no doubt, but the objective driving the desire to practice these activities is to kill something, using a living target, whose life is exterminated for personal fulfillment or is exposed to great suffering in the pursuit of personal fulfillment.

If the various elements of trophy hunting all lead to fulfillment, and the underlying objective establishing the complex of those fulfilling elements involves killing something, then the fulfillment in the hunting IS, most certainly, based on killing something. If hunters do not regard the killing of the animal itself as fulfilling, then why is this a required element to set up the circumstances for achieving fulfillment? This calls the mental health aspect of the activity even MORE into question.

The act of killing alone is not fulfilling, some try to claim, yet killing something is the required condition that allows the circumstances for achieving fulfillment. This is a vain attempt to remove the underlying motivation from the overriding outcome, which is fulfillment (derived from a situation that requires killing a real living being).

If killing is a requirement for setting up the situation to achieve fulfillment, then killing is the underlying motivation of the fulfillment, directly or indirectly. Killing something is the motive that permeates the collective components of the hunt. No matter how much a hunter might try to dilute the killing to an insignificant factor, killing IS the underlying factor – there is no escaping this.

Comradery, enjoyment of nature, physical exercise, respect or admiration for an animal, desire for adventure, relaxing, escaping, or whatever other reason a trophy hunter might offer all lead back to killing something as the orchestrating motive. There are other ways to enjoy nature, get exercise, and practice archery or gun skills that do NOT require killing something in nature. There are other ways to express admiration and respect that do NOT require killing. To say that there is nothing like killing to set up this fulfilling scenario is to say that killing is the prime element that makes the overall collection of elements fulfilling. Hunting is fulfilling, because hunting is based on the killing. This is an inescapable causal connection.

Trying to distance oneself from killing in the collection of associated fulfilling activities is to lie to oneself about why, ultimately, the hunt is fulfilling - it is fulfilling because it requires killing. Furthermore, if killing is an act of love or respect or awe, then this act stands in polar opposition to how a majority of other people in the world express such emotions. Again, such claims bring the mental health aspect of trophy hunting into serious question, since most people do NOT express love or admiration of something through a complex of actions that ultimately requires killing it to fulfill these emotions.

Photo satirizing canned lion hunting derived by RG Kernodle from source images.
Photo satirizing canned lion hunting derived by RG Kernodle from source images.

Ethics Of Canned Hunting Captive-Bred Lions

Nowhere is the underlying motive of trophy hunting more questionable than in so called “canned hunting”, which is the main way that lion hunting is done in South Africa.

“Canned” implies highly processed, artificial, devoid of originality or devoid of authenticity, produced on an industrialized assembly line, manufactured for mass distribution, and targeted to satisfy a specific consumer demand in a guaranteed package. In the case of canned hunting of lions, the specific consumer demand is recreational killing that leads to owning the professionally prepared head or skin of a lion as a trophy.

Here the hunt is staged with great care to guarantee a successful kill, using a lion raised in captivity around humans to whom it has become accustomed and dependent for food/water, placed in a limited area with no chance of escaping, sometimes drugged to diminish its prowess, lured by food to a location where it feeds and is shot dead, usually by a wealthy foreigner who pays large sums of money for the can.

In other words, lions are farmed like chickens for the ultimate purpose of being slaughtered, NOT for food, but for personal satisfaction. The largest consumer of these canned kills is presumably the United States, whose enthusiastic supporters infuse the lion trophy hunting industry, in general, with over 60% of its total income. Arguably the most developed, intelligent nation on Earth infuses this thrill kill industry with over 60% of its total income. Observing that the number of captive bred lions is sharply increasing, a rational person can only deduce that the United States is importing the larger share of canned-hunt trophies (confirmed by Figure 3 above). How developed and intelligent is this, really?

VIDEO -- Captive Bred For Canned Hunts

... the United States, historically a world leader in conservation, now leads the world in supporting the canned lion hunting industry.

Table 1. Lion Trophies Imported by United States From South African Captive Bred Sources, 1994-2005

Lion Trophies Imported by United States From South African Captive Bred Sources, 1994-2005, compiled by RG Kernodle from CITES data
Lion Trophies Imported by United States From South African Captive Bred Sources, 1994-2005, compiled by RG Kernodle from CITES data

Table 1. (above) shows that the United States has been the top importer of captive bred lion trophies for the eleven years between 1994-2005, averaging five times more captive-bred lion trophy imports than the next highest importing country for all eleven years. In 1998, no other countries importing lions from captive-bred sources were reported.

_________________________________________________________________

A ... more recent analysis of CITES data ... reveals that, in 2013, of all the lion trophies imported by countries of the world, the United States imported over three-fourths of the world's lion trophies, or 77% (613 lion trophies, to be precise, including 306 lion trophies from captive-bred sources, which is over three times as many USA captive-bred lion trophy imports as in the year 2005).

The next highest importing country was Spain, with 39 total lion trophies, including roughly 19 from captive bred sources (assuming a safe estimate of 50% from captive-bred sources, even though over 50% of all lion trophies are from captive-bred sources). This means that the United States imported 16 times as many lion trophies from captive-bred sources as the next highest importing country in 2013.

These statistics deserve emphasizing, because they contradict the reputation of the United States as a champion of conservation and steward of respect for nature.

CONCLUSION

Because current facts reveal that canned lion hunting is NOT a conservation measure, an ethical argument against canned hunting appears to stand more firmly on these facts. Even so, the United States, historically a world leader in conservation, now leads the world in supporting the canned lion hunting industry.

Survey On Canned Lion Hunting

Do you believe that canned lion hunting should be banned in countries that now allow it?

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    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      2 years ago

      ‘We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.’

      -- Henry Beston in The Outermost House

    • Robert Kernodle profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Kernodle 

      2 years ago

      Hi dleomiles,

      Would you care to explain why you believe that canned hunting is the "most humane way of trophy hunting"?

    • profile image

      dleomiles 

      2 years ago

      Canned hunting is the most humane way of trophy hunting

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