Written by: S.J. van der Merwe, Chairperson of the African Lion Working Group
It is the opinion of the African Lion Working Group (ALWG) that captive-bred lion hunting, which is defined by ALWG as the sport hunting of lions that are captive bred and reared expressly for sport hunting and/or sport hunting of lions that occur in fenced enclosures and are not self-sustaining, does not provide any demonstrated positive benefit to wild lion conservation efforts and, therefore, cannot be claimed to be conservation.
In addition, while more data is still needed, the international lion bone trade, which is currently being supplied by the South African captive-bred lion industry, may fuel an increased demand for wild lion bones elsewhere. This could negatively impact wild lion populations and hinder conservation efforts. The recent dramatic increase in lion bone trade should be reason for concern.
The estimated 8,000 lions in South Africa currently being maintained and bred on game farms as part of this industry should not be included in any assessments of the current status of wild lions.
Captive breeding of lions for sport hunting, hunting of captive-bred lions, and the associated cub petting industry are not conservation tools. In our opinion they are businesses and outside the remit of the African Lion Working Group, and should be dealt with accordingly.
Read an analysis of the lion breeding industry in South Africa in our article: Lion King or Commodity?