Target: South African President, Jacob Zuma
Goal: Stop the irresponsible and unnecessary recreational killing of South Africa’s lions
In recent years, African lions have faced massive habitat destruction that has reduced their numbers by over 50 percent. Yet this has not stopped hunters from going after lions, all for the sake of sport. In South Africa, lion hunting is marketed as thrilling and dangerous and, especially to tourists, as an exotic and expensive experience.
A 2011 investigation by the Born Free Foundation discovered that in some cases, lions were bred in captivity and then released into large, enclosed areas to be hunted. These lions were given only four days, a period of time that merely allowed the effects of tranquilizers to wear off, before it became legal to hunt them. When asked if the lions would be capable of eluding hunters, one breeder stated, “no, [they’d] be easily shot. They’re used to humans.” This type of hunting, in which the animals are within the confines of a cage, is called Canned Lion Hunting and is especially cruel, as the lions ultimately cannot escape. Furthermore, lions that are bred for the sole purpose of being hunted for sport often spend the majority of their lives in small, cramped cages where they are forced to breed, before being let out merely to be shot by hunters seeking a “thrilling” experience. Often, for a hefty fee, females that may have cubs, or even the cubs themselves can be hunted.
Not all lions that are hunted for sport in South Africa are bred specifically for this purpose. It is legal for hunters to kill wild lions as well. This has helped to bring down the African lion population from 450,000 to only about 20,000 left in the wild. Often, farmers, not hunters, kill wild lions in an effort to protect their livestock and therefore, their livelihood. However, there are other, far more humane ways of dealing with lions that pose a threat to farms, villages or towns, including tranquilization and relocation.
Because of the alarmingly decreased number of wild African lions, it is imperative that their species be protected from trophy hunters and farmers alike. Demand that South Africa enforce a ban or at least a limit on the amount of lion hunting permits issued each year, and thusly control the cruel and endangering practice of lion trophy hunting.
Dear President Jacob Zuma,
African lions are one of Earth’s most remarkable species, and should be treated with awe and respect. Habitat destruction has already posed an alarming threat to their population, and this coupled with trophy hunting has decreased their numbers drastically.
Hunting lions for sport, especially when lions are bred specificially for this purpose, is undoubtedly cruel and unnecessary. Often, these lions are used to humans and do not instinctively run from hunters. Furthermore, the practice of Canned Lion Hunting, in which lions are forced into a cage and then shot, is an insult to the species.
In addition, the hunting of wild lions is equally unnecessary. Those that pose a threat to farmers’ livestock can easily be tranquilized and relocated if proper effort were put into such programs.
Because the African lion has faced such widespread population decrease, and certainly will continue to dwindle if something is not done, I respectfully urge you to support a ban on Canned Lion Hunting and to enforce limits on the number of lion hunting permits granted each year. Please help protect this magnificent species from complete extinction.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kevin Pluck via Flickr