EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: wegweiser-freiwilligenarbeit.com
German online volunteering portal wegweiser-freiwilligenarbeit.com are telling people that want to contribute to the conservation of endangered species in Southern Africa not to participate in lion breeding projects.
Animal farms that advertise caring for supposedly orphaned big cat cubs are frequently part of the hunting industry. That is why wegweiser-freiwilligenarbeit.com, the first volunteering directory in German-speaking Europe, has banned all lion cub activities from its project database. The offering of such projects will also play a bigger part in its selection process of volunteering organisations that can showcase their projects in the directory.
Animal welfare organisation CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting), which fights cruel hunting practices, welcomes this step. Faye Peeters, speaker of CACH Germany, emphasises: “It is terrible that volunteers, who only care about the well-being of the lions, are used to exploit the animals.”
Frank Seidel, founder of wegweiser-freiwilligenarbeit.com, shares this opinion. “Our aim is to promote responsible volunteering abroad. Projects where the volunteers’ good intentions are used by business owners to their own advantage don’t have their place in our directory,” says Seidel. Breeding projects with lions, leopards or cheetahs are the second kind of volunteering projects that have been banned from the portal, after orphanage volunteering projects.
Breeders of big cats lure volunteers into their parks with false promises, especially in South Africa, but also in other African countries. The possibility to take care of lion cubs and other big cat cubs is the owners’ most important argument when advertising their parks. The breeding is supposed to diversify the gene pool, they argue. Later, they pretend to release the lions into the wild, where the animals can mate. This, however, is not at all the case, criticises CACH. Lions accustomed to human contact from an early age are not fit to survive in the wild and, furthermore, would be a threat for the local population. The animals are bred to be killed in cruel canned hunts. This kind of hunting is getting more and more popular in Southern Africa. In a canned hunt, hunters pay about EUR12,000 to kill the king of the jungle in a confined area, with the lion not having any chance to escape.
During the five or six years until the lion is sold for canned hunting, the breeder makes a total of about EUR60,000, estimates CACH. The volunteering fees make up for only about 20% of the breeder’s income. Other sources of income, on top of the canned hunting bounty, include walks with young lions, selfie photo shoots with the big cat cubs or selling the bones of the dead animals to Asia for traditional medicine.
Luckily, throughout the whole African continent there are also many good volunteer conservation projects that allow volunteers to contribute to the sustainable protection of endangered species. Many national parks and private reserves offer volunteers the chance to observe the big cats in the wild instead of cuddling with them inside a cage. Moreover, there are projects where injured animals or animals saved from captivity can live and end their lives in good conditions.