After a long day of travelling there is nothing like sitting down with old and new friends, having a scrumptious meal and reminiscing about the days events. Well thanks to Bonnievale Wines the night kept going, the wine kept flowing and the smile kept growing.
Arriving for the Skål Bi-Annual Hosted by Garden Route Skål
On the weekend of the 11th and 12th of September the Garden Route Skål hosted the Skål South Africa Bi-Annual. Skalleuges on the Garden Route opened their doors and hearts wide to accommodate delegates from across our country.
On the afternoon of the 11th of September delegates arrived at the Beacon Island and checked in, everyone was greeted by the friendly and always smiling Beacon Island staff and then got to sign in and get their name badges from Skalleuge Lara Mostert of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary – the current award winner of the Skål International Sustainable Award.
Raised in cages to be hunted as trophies like Cecil, and so used to humans that they think their killers are bringing them food – the haunting fate of South Africa’s ‘canned’ lions is exposed
- Fresh outcry expected over fate of greatest of Africa’s big cats as new movie is released about ‘canned hunting’
- Blood Lions will be screened next month on PBS and shows how hundreds of lions are raised to be shot as trophies
- They spend their lives in cages then taste just a few days of ‘freedom’ inside reserves enclosed by electric fences
- The animals are so used to humans that when they hear vehicles and pick up the hunters’ scent they think they are going to be fed
- Hunting a lion costs up to $30,000 and an estimated 500 Americans are among the trophy hunters who come to South Africa for the ‘canned hunt’
A new international outcry at the treatment of Africa’s lions is about to hit just weeks after the furor over the killing of Cecil by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.
A movie will air next month that claims to blow the lid off big game hunting in South Africa, saying that 99 percent of the lions bagged in the country are hand-reared and specially bred for the bullet.
The movie, Blood Lions, has already been shown in South Africa, and is expected to bring new outrage down on the heads of wealthy Americans who travel to the Dark Continent with one thing in mind — bringing back a lion’s head so they can mount it on their wall and boast how they killed it in the wild.
‘There are roughly 1,000 lions killed by hunters in South Africa every year,’ Blood Lions executive director Andrew Venter told Daily Mail Online in an exclusive interview. ‘Of those, around 10 are genuinely wild.’
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Hunted: This white lion is one of the hundreds of the ‘apex animals’ bred simply to be hunted on reserves in South Africa
Farmed: The ‘canned hunting’ industry hand raises the lions in cages. They become so used to humans that they associate the scent with mealtime
Prized: A male lion is more valued as a trophy because of its mane. ‘Canned’ lions do not have the scratch marks that wild ones do from the fights for territory and superiority in the pride which are part of their lives
Catalog: How ‘canned lions’ are listed for selection as prey in a picture guidebook
A Benkoe Kill: The ‘canned’ lions are raised for this fate, with 1,000 killed every year. They are released for a minimum of four days to fulfill requirements which make them classed as ‘wild’ – then hunted.
The movie, to be broadcast on PBS next month, follows American hunter Rick Swazey to Benkoe, a hunting lodge near Vryburg in South Africa’s North West Province.
There he is guaranteed that for a payment of $5,400 he will get to shoot a lioness he has picked out of an online catalog of potential targets.
‘We were offered 14 lions with the images and prices attached,’ documentary maker Ian Michler told Daily Mail Online.
Moviemakers claim that the lioness was raised by hand in the booming so-called ‘canned hunting’ trade, although the lodge’s owner strenuously denied that to Daily Mail Online.
‘Benkoe Safaris do not engage in any canned lion hunting activities,’ owner Ben Duminy said. ‘Our clients do not shoot tame lions in small enclosures as the Blood Lions video tries to portray.
‘We are proud to be accredited by the South African Predators Association as a world class lion hunting destination, which means our clients hunt wild and dangerous lions on a fair chase and walk-and-stalk basis.
‘On several occasions a hunt ended with near catastrophic results for the hunter as a result of the viciousness and aggression of the quarry,’ Duminy added.
Yet he said he would not try to sue the moviemakers. ‘Legal action is not an appropriate strategy to combat the lies and propaganda of the animal rights lobby,’ said Duminy. He said hunters in South Africa have their own program ‘aimed at putting the true facts about the captive breeding industry across to people and institutions that really matter.’
Segregated: These lions are kept in cages apart from each other to avoid them fighting. Their heads are more valued if they are unmarked by scratches from fighting each other
Prize: A proud hunter poses with the lioness he has killed and the team who helped him
End result: A trophy at a hunting exhibition in South Africa shows how the canned lions will end up
Advertising: Filmmakers recorded this example of promotional material for lion hunting, offering ‘seven days, four trophies’
‘We were offered 14 lions with the images and prices attached,’ documentary maker Ian Michler told Daily Mail Online.
Venter and Michler believe their movie can have the same effect on the canned lion trade in South Africa that the 2013 documentary Blackfish had on SeaWorld and other marine parks in the United States. That movie exposed the way that orcas were kept in captivity. Since it came out SeaWorld shares have dropped by about half, CEO Jim Atchison was forced out and attendance has fallen off dramatically.
‘Our world is changing and whether it is orcas in ponds or lions in cages, these are exploitative activities that progressive societies no longer sanction,’ Michler told Daily Mail Online.
Venter, Michler and Swazey are all convinced that Benkoe’s hunts are fake. ‘The fact the lion hunting is inside an electrified fenced enclosure speaks volume,’ Swazey, an aircraft dispatcher who lived in Hawaii at the time the movie was made, told Daily Mail Online.
But the hunting industry in South Africa is trying to promote the term ‘captive hunting’ to get away from the negative connotations of ‘canned hunting.’
‘Before coming to South Africa, I found that there is a ‘Put and Take Law’ in the province where Mr. Duminy has his hunting camp,’ added Swazey.
‘This law requires that the animal to be hunted must be released into the hunting enclosure for a minimum of four days before being shot.’
That requirement is to give time to allow any drugs that may have been used to calm the beast to transport it to the hunting ground to wear off.
‘I challenge anyone to tell me how a four-day release constitutes a wild lion hunt,’ said Swazey.
‘My questions to Mr. Duminy are: ‘What exactly is the difference between captive and canned hunting? Why is there a need to blur the line between the two? Why is captive hunting acceptable and canned hunting not?’
‘The end result is the same: a lion is raised in captivity for only one purpose — to be shot.’
African lion hunting has been under intense scrutiny since Walter Palmer shot and killed Cecil the black-maned lion with a high-power crossbow in Zimbabwe last month. Cecil was not part of a canned hunt — which are virtually unknown outside South Africa.
Instead Cecil was allegedly lured from safety of the Hwange National Park by two guides trailing meat behind a vehicle. Palmer only injured the animal which suffered in intense agony for 40 hours before being tracked and finished off.
The hunting team then hacked off Cecil’s head so Palmer could take it back to his home. But Zimbabwean authorities confiscated it leaving Palmer with nothing to show for the $55,000 he spent for the kill.
Caged: This lion’s enclosure is a tiny fraction of the size of its footprint in the wild, where it would be able to roam freely over the grassland. It will taste brief freedom when it is set free to be hunted
Raised behind bars: A lion cub looks up from behind the wire fence preventing it from roaming free
Idle: The captive lions have little to do but lie in the sunshine as they wait their inevitable fate
Swazey’s fee was less than one-tenth of the size paid by Palmer because lionesses are not considered such good trophies as they don’t have the iconic full mane that male lions have.
One of the advantages hunters find in shooting hand-reared animals rather than genuinely wild ones is that they are unlikely to have been scratched up in fights that occur naturally in the wild, and therefore the head they get to show off will be in better condition, explained Venter.
Michler estimates there are around 200 facilities in South Africa breeding predators, mainly lions. He says there are between 6,000 and 8,000 animals currently in these facilities.
As well as providing relatively tame animals as shooting targets, these places also make money from tourists who are allowed to pet the cubs and walk with the carnivores and they also provide for a growing Far Eastern market in lion bones, which supposedly have medicinal properties, and have largely taken the place of tiger bones in China, due to restrictions on importing tiger parts.
‘Nearly all justify what they do by claiming conservation, educational or lion awareness arguments,’ said Michler, a former Cape Town stockbroker who has worked in conservation for the past 25 years.
‘And then, of course, they point to the economic contributions such as job creation.’
But, he said, his documentary exposes those arguments. ‘The film clearly shows how lions, an apex predator that in the natural world requires ample space, are being subjected to intensive agricultural breeding practices in confined areas.
‘It also shows how the breeders and farmers mix species such as lions and tiger and you also get to see and understand the considerable welfare concerns.’
He said Swazey came on board after watching a promo clip the movie makers had circulated. ‘Rick is a genuine American hunter,’ he said. ‘The practices of canned hunting offended every hunting sensibility he knew and so he volunteered to be part of the project.
Michler estimates that around 1,000 hunters travel every year to South Africa to bag lions. Of those, roughly half are American.
Swazey remains a committed deer and white-winged dove hunter in the United States. ‘The hunting I do is to put food on the table,’ he told Daily Mail Online.
Notorious: Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil created revulsion around the world. He hunted the treasured 13-year-old first with a crossbow, wounding him, then shot him dead 40 hours later
Worldwide impact: Cecil’s death was followed by calls for action against trophy hunting
Impact: Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer’s Florida vacation home was vandalized and he remains in hiding after it was disclosed that he killed Cecil
Reviled: Walter Palmer has been in hiding ever since it was revealed he had killed Cecil
But he agreed to take part in the movie because he found himself repulsed by the idea of killing a captive animal solely for its trophy value.
‘What bothers me most about “hunting” a canned animal is that the animals are in an enclosure, often baited to present a shot to the shooter and sometimes shot from a vehicle.’
Making it worse, he said, the lions are used to ‘the sight, sound and scent’ of humans.
‘When a vehicle approaches a lion that was bottle-fed and raised in captivity, that sound usually means it is mealtime.’
Swazey and his team had never intended to kill the lioness and were still working out a way to make their exit while leaving the animal alive when Duminy discovered they were making a movie. Although many hunters take teams along to film their exploits, both sides agree that Swazey’s ruse was discovered because his crew appeared too professional.
Instead of capturing a lion killed on camera, the filmmakers caught Duminy threatening to kill Swazey after he is uncovered. Swazey insists the game lodge owner meant what he said, and he believed his life was in genuine danger.
‘How would you feel if someone twice your size threatened to kill you?’ he asked.
‘I trusted Mr. Duminy about as far as I could throw him. I think he had every intention of causing us serious harm if we had not left when we did.’
As for the fate of the animal that Swazey was supposed to kill, it is still unclear. ‘After we left the farm, we tried to arrange for the lioness to be moved to a sanctuary,’ said Michler.
‘But negotiations between Benkoe and ourselves broke down. We got a partial refund and have no idea what happened to the lioness.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3204097/Raised-cages-hunted-trophies-like-Cecil-used-humans-think-killers-bringing-food-haunting-fate-South-Africa-s-canned-lions-exposed.html#ixzz3k63Mu1Kg
South Africa is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and one of the most popular reasons for visiting is the spectacular wildlife. Along with the ‘Big Five’, South Africa is also home to an abundance of mammals, spectacular birdlife and our coasts are visited by dolphins, seals and migrating whales.
However, despite all this wildlife living free in our forests, plains, mountains and coasts there is a disturbing number of facilities offering tourists the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ with wild animals. One can pet lion, tiger and serval cubs, and walk with adult lions and cheetahs. Take a ride on the back of an elephant or even an ostrich, feed monkeys and lemurs or drape a large and dangerous snake around your neck. The list appears to get longer each year with more wild animals being added to the list of those you can ‘cuddle’.
One cannot deny that any interaction with an animal, especially a wild one is an exhilarating experience leaving us feeling quite…special. But is it really ‘special’?
Encountering a wild elephant voluntarily bending on its knees to allow a human to ride on its back, that would be special. A wild lioness sauntering up to a human and presenting her new born cubs to be petted and played with, that would be special. A wild cheetah leash in mouth, begging to be taken on a walk, that would be special. In fact any hands-on encounter with a wild animal actually in the wild would be very special indeed.
So why is it that wild animals in captivity are so amenable to poking, petting, camera snapping, noisy tourists? The fundamental word here is captive. The harsh reality behind all of these encounters is that the animals have been raised and conditioned in captivity, and generally from a very early age.
Whether captive bred or stolen from the wild (yes stolen, the rest of the family members would be murdered in order to access the young) their natural instincts remain. Wild animals are naturally fearful of humans, this fear can lead to aggression if we venture too close and if you come between a mother and her young you will be certain to feel the full extent of their wrath.
Conditioning can take on many forms and generally will involve an element of physiological and psychological cruelty:
Elephants have their spirits literally beaten out of them until they become totally submissive to their trainer(s). Their limbs are tied with ropes and pulled into unnatural positions, bullhooks and cattle prods are used on the most sensitive areas of their bodies to force them to do ‘tricks’. Often they are starved and will only be fed if they perform, this comes under the guise of ‘positive reinforcement’. At any elephant encounter you can be sure that the keeper will have with him a bullhook or other such implement to coerce the elephant to do as he/she wishes. Despite the thickness of an elephants hide, it is also extremely sensitive to pain.
Lions and tigers are kept as breeding machines, their cubs removed at birth to be hand raised by volunteers paying vast amounts of money for the privilege. These cubs are then subjected to hours of manhandling by the paying public on a daily basis. When lion cubs grow too large and boisterous to be petted by children they are used for ‘lion walks’. Again, they are beaten in order to become submissive to their human ‘owners’.
A sharp rap across their sensitive noses with a stick inflicts sufficient pain to keep them in check. Those that do not bow to their masters have a far worse destiny. Some are drugged to keep them docile so that tourists can ride on their backs and pose for photographs. The rest are kept in small enclosures to await their certain death. Trophy hunters pay big money to bag a lion and one which has been conditioned to accept humans and has no place to run makes a nice easy target. Virtually every facility that offers lion cub petting will be hiding the more sinister business of ‘canned hunting’.
Ostrich racing is also a cruel form of entertainment. No animal was naturally designed to carry a human on its back and this is especially true of birds and yet they are forced to carry up to half their 150kg weight on their backs. Herded into a pen with a bag thrown over their heads the rider then jumps on and grabs hold of the wingpits. Released, the birds then run in a frenzy with the rider clinging on to their sensitive wings. Not only is the practice cruel for the ostrich it is also incredibly dangerous for the rider. Ostriches can be unpredictable and are capable of delivering a hefty kick or nasty bite if they feel threatened. There is also the danger of falling off a bird running at 40km/h and no one is going to offer you a helmet.
Primates, the most intelligent mammals on earth are possibly the most exploited. Bred and traded as pets, trained to act in movies, forced to perform tricks for the public, experimented upon and in some countries (including South Africa), eaten.
Primates are communal animals with complex social structures. Removed from their family groups they suffer severe psychological stress. Asia in particular has an appalling track record of using primates as photo props and much worse. Dressed as dolls they are forced to ride bicycles, walk on stilts and perform other tricks whilst begging for money. Their training involves fear, restraint and beatings.
In South Africa the primate of choice for entertainment is generally the lemur. With their big eyes and soft fur they are undeniably cute. However, lemurs too are social creatures that mostly live in large family groups, they also have an inherent fear of humans. There is only one reason a lemur would want to curl itself around your neck or sit on your lap, it wants food. So one would question, is the lemur ever given the opportunity to feed as it does in the wild, or does it have to resort to begging from tourists?
Bird parks are also a big attraction, South Africa is home to a vast array of big and colourful birds; flamingos, cranes, storks to name but a few. However to keep them enclosed is an expensive business, far cheaper to cut a wing off to prevent their escape. ‘Pinioning’ is a procedure practiced worldwide as a way of keeping these larger birds and water birds in particular, in open enclosures. As they are not so easy to catch, the trimming of feathers on a regular basis to prevent flight is not an easy option. Therefore part of one wing is amputated, cut off at the elbow. This renders the bird permanently unable to fly. It is done with a pair of scissors and normally without pain relief.
All birds with wings were meant to fly, however it is common practice to deny them this freedom so that humans can keep them where they want, their beauty to be viewed at leisure. Most birds are kept in cages, many far too small for the bird’s needs. Those on public display may be allowed out to sit on perches to allow photo opportunities. All of these birds will have had their wings clipped, a process of cutting the flight feathers to prevent the bird flying away. Flight depravation denies a bird to carry out its normal behaviour and is in effect the same as keeping a human in shackles.
There is a seemingly endless list of the types of animals currently used for human entertainment and together with welfare issues there is also a great danger to the public and indeed, their keepers. No matter how well a wild animal is conditioned or trained, they will always retain an element of their former selves which can manifest itself at any time with dire consequences. There are many, many reported incidents where people have been crushed by elephants, mauled or even killed by lions and tigers, and the seemingly tame cheetah is also capable of inflicting serious injuries. Monkeys too are unpredictable and it is known for lifelong pets to suddenly turn on their ‘owners’ inflicting horrendous injuries. Birds have remarkably strong beaks and parrots in particular can deliver a vicious bite. Whatever the animal, there is always a risk, that cute lemur…check out its teeth!
Many of the establishments offering animal encounters will often do so under the guise of conservation. It is extraordinarily difficult to release any animal or bird back into the wild and once they have been imprinted by humans it is virtually impossible. White lions and tigers are not ‘endangered’, they carry a defective gene and would never survive in the wild, they were never meant to. There can only be one reason to offer these attractions and quite simply it is to make money. The industry is controlled by greed and greed is acting like a disease which threatens to become an epidemic and the threat to our wildlife is becoming irreversible.
We are failing our wildlife on a catastrophic scale and already the world has lost 52% of its wildlife over the last 40 years.
Here are some other pretty scary statistics:
1600 Elephants are currently kept captive throughout the world. That is one quarter of the total elephant population. 124 elephants are currently used in South Africa for entertainment.
100,000 elephants have been poached in the last three years. More elephants are being poached than there are natural births. If this rate continues, elephants could become extinct within the next 20 years.
In 1980, more than 75,000 lions roamed the Africa continent. Today, less than 25,000 wild lions occupy 23% of the territory that they once inhabited.
There are currently about 2800 lions living wild in South Africa, however 5000 lions are bred every year to satisfy the cub petting and hunting industries.
There are around 5000 lions held captive in the USA alone, but there are only 3200 wild tigers in Asia.
Almost one third of the world’s parrot species are close to extinction due to habitat loss and illegal trapping.
It is estimated that the amount of birds taken illegally from the wild for the pet trade runs into millions. 60% of these birds die before reaching their destinations.
The illegal trade in CITES listed birds is worth an estimated $5-8 billion a year, this is on par with the illegal arms and drugs trade.
The trade in wildlife is big business, generating billions of dollars annually but only a fraction of that money finds its way into conservation projects, with the rest ending up in the pockets of unscrupulous business people, corrupt officials and illegal traders.
What is even more horrifying is the fact that we are fast approaching a time when the only place to see wildlife will be in captivity.
Thankfully, responsible tourism can make a vast difference. By shifting the focus away from establishments that exploit our wildlife and concentrating on those that actually do play a part in conservation. A close encounter with a wild animal at a petting zoo may be a thrilling experience but it pales into insignificance against the adrenalin pumping experience of spotting a rare animal in the wild or watching the antics of animals behaving naturally.
Tour companies are already taking note and listening to animal welfare groups, already 30 international tour operators have removed elephant trekking from their list of available activities. We need to expand on that and refuse to support establishments that exploit animals for their own monetary gain. It is our duty to educate and guide our visitors. South Africa welcomed over 9 million international visitors last year, if each of those people were educated into the ugly truth behind the petting industry, the word would spread. If more money was channelled into true sanctuaries, conservation projects and genuine breeding programs there just maybe a chance that we can play a positive part in increasing wildlife populations.
Wildlife, it belongs in the wild….lets help keep it there.
written Claire Hamilton, from SAASA
Follow us on: http://twitter.com/SAASA_RSA
Over the last 8 years abuse and mistreatment of animals at the Tiger Temple in Thailand has been on the lips of many animal rights and animal conservation groups. One of these groups – cee4life – is one that I have been following closely.
It was a true joyous moment when I read over the Easter Weekend that the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) of Thailand together with the Police and Military confiscated the Bears. These Bears have arrived at their safe new home.
This news was followed by even better news that the DNP of Thailand will seize ALL Tiger Temple Tigers and rehome them by Mid April 2015!!
If you would like some back ground as to why this momentous occasion is so joyous please read this Statement by cee4life regarding the Missing Tigers and illegally obtained animals http://cee4life.org/press+release.php?ac=post&id=16&p=1
Congratulations and THANK YOU to all who where part of the saving of these animals!!