According to British newspaper The Sun, “sickening” breeding farms are raising thousands of lions for the purpose of being slaughtered by wealthy poachers.
Lions, in addition to other big cats, are being hunted and having their bones sold to dealers in China for “medicines.”
The news comes as a result of a year-long investigation by British politician Lord Michael Ashcroft. In his inquiry, he found that wealthy trophy hunters are targeting lions inside fenced areas. The so-called “canned hunting” industry is a thriving underground market, in which “clients” pay up to $77,000 for their kill.
Lions that aren’t killed through hunting are butchered for their bones and manes. According to the Global Nature Fund, more than 1,000 lions are slaughtered each year to supply the “bone trade,” many of which are in South Africa.
“Operation Simba” revealed that nearly 12,000 captive-bred lions are being kept in squalid conditions on farms in South Africa—almost four times the number of lions in the country’s wild.
In a statement to British newspaper Mail on Sunday, Lord Ashcroft said, “My year-long probe lifts the lid on barbaric and illegal practices at the heart of South Africa’s deeply shameful lion trade.”
“The investigation shows how up to 12,000 lions bred in captivity are destined either to be shot by wealthy hunters — in what is often a pathetic charade of a hunt — or killed in squalid abattoirs so their bones can be exported to the Far East,” he continued.
Lord Ashcroft harshly criticized England’s failure to halt the import of trophy skins.
“Britain’s complicity in lion farming is also laid bare by my undercover investigators, which includes ex-Special Forces soldiers, who have exposed how hunters and middlemen from this country are involved in the despicable trade,” he said.