On 7th October, MSNBC will present the American television premiere of Blood Lions, a compelling documentary which takes audiences inside the so called “canned lion hunting” industry in South Africa. Blood Lions will air at 22.00 on the East Coast and at 23.00 on the West Coast.
Blood Lions follows environmental journalist and safari operator, Ian Michler, and American hunter, Rick Swazey, as they expose the multi-million dollar industry of canned hunting – where lions are bred and raised in confined areas for trophy hunting. Also known as captive bred lion hunting, canned hunts allow hunters to select their lion ahead of time and complete a hunt in a matter of days. Canned hunts provide a cheaper and faster way of hunting predatory animals compared to wild lion hunts.
It’s a world many Americans do not know exists and yet, Americans are in large part the ones fuelling the industry. In the wake of the hunting and death of Cecil the lion, the film reveals a dark dimension to trophy hunting in Africa.
The documentary includes the perspective of both proponents of this practice who say that hunting helps preserve Africa’s lion population and conservationists who are quick to dispute that claim.
Senior Producer for MSNBC, Tim Smith, commented that, “Blood Lions is a revelatory and sad tale that demands to be told – and we are pleased to be able to bring it to our viewers.”
Ian Michler, environmentalist and a lead character in Blood Lions, had this to say: “While it is true that the majority of trophy hunters coming to South Africa are from the USA, and that many of them are going after captive-bred lions, it is equally true that Blood Lions is also receiving significant support in the USA. This support ranges from donors and the wider citizenry who are concerned or outraged about what is going on to decision-makers and politicians. I would like to thank all of you – the millions of Americans who have been so outspoken and vociferous about predator breeding and canned hunting – your support has been vital to raising the profile of Blood Lions around the world. For all of us, the first screenings of the film here are very exciting and we so look forward to getting actively involved in the campaign across your great country.”
Producer, and driving force behind the film, Pippa Hankinson said, “We have been overwhelmed by the extraordinary response that Blood Lions has received from so many across the USA, and are immensely grateful to MSNBC for the incredible opportunity to premiere this important story on American television. The film exposes the cruel exploitation of South Africa’s lions which are being intensively bred on farms resembling large scale puppy mills. These magnificent animals are being bottle fed and hand reared simply for the bullet – for vast profits – in an industry which is not open to public scrutiny. Blood Lions is a call to action – a call to all who view it to make conscious choices around our responsibilities towards our planet and the amazing creatures with whom we have the privilege to share it. Our hope is that our film will help make the changes that are so needed, to ensure that our children’s children will be able to see these majestic animals roaming free in the wild – where they rightfully belong!”
For an analysis on canned hunting in South Africa, read: Lion King or Commodity