A year-long investigation has revealed that 54 lions were killed in a filthy slaughterhouse in South Africa in just two days—thousands of others are being bred and killed for their bones.
“We couldn’t believe what was happening. You could smell the blood. The lions got shot in the camp and then were all brought into this one room. The flies were terrible,” Reinet Meyer, a senior inspector at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told Daily Mail.
— CIA Foundation (@cia_foundation) April 28, 2019
A part of a massive repulsive industry, it supplies bones for medicine and trinkets that are sold with expensive price tags in China and Southeast Asia.
Some of the hapless beasts were shot in fenced enclosures by wealthy “trophy hunters of endangered species” said the investigator, Tory Lord Ashcroft, a British businessman, philanthropist, author, and the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom.
Posing for the camera, City worker who paid £3,000 to shoot Simba the lion with a dart… before an undercover team rescue him https://t.co/SrXlt5kFmi
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) April 28, 2019
“A year ago I started looking at the trophy hunting of endangered species disturbed by the publication of “kill shots” on social networks—those pictures where hunters pose with the animals they have shot,” Ashcroft said in a letter to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the U.K. government. The letter was shared by him on Twitter.
Ashcroft said that his research soon moved into how lions are bred in captivity and he discovered that in South Africa the number of lions kept and bred in captivity was 12,000—four times the number in the wild around the world.
“Purely for the purpose of canned lion hunting and the harvesting of their bones for the Asia market,” he wrote in the letter further saying that he commissioned a massive undercover operation to expose the horrific trade.
A copy of my letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove calling for the UK to ban the import of protected species “trophies” to discourage lion farming/hunting in South Africa. Retweet if you support it pic.twitter.com/Z9EwnizesA
— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) April 29, 2019
The undercover operation was code named Operation Simba and involved former security forces and security, “The result was a disturbing insight into the full horrors and illegal practices linked to lion farming,” Ashcroft said in a statement on his website.
The illegal industry dealing with lion skeletons is worth tens of millions of dollars and meets the demands of “an insatiable desire in Southeast Asia and China for “traditional” medicines, including aphrodisiacs.”
Some of the horrific disclosures made by the investigation:
Wealthy clients are sent photographs of the captive lions on Whatsapp and they can choose the animal they want to hunt. The price is determined by the size and the quality of the lion’s mane and could range from $13,000 to $55,000.
Captive-bred lion trophies are first imported to the United Kingdom where such imports are not banned, they are then hidden inside the skin of dead red deer and transported to the United States.
In an “eco-farm” in South Africa’s Free State province, more than 50 lions were slaughtered for their bones in just two days.
The abusive industry is cross-breeding lions and tigers to produce hybrid animals. The hybrids fetch more money as their bones are heavier but many hybrid cubs are born with defects and die very young.
“South Africa is the only country that permits large-scale, captive-lion farming and that has an annual quota for the legal export of lion bones. Many more lion bones are illegally smuggled to the Far East,” said Ashcroft.
He urged the South African government to ban captive-bred lion farming, make it illegal, and also called on the United Kingdom government to take action.
Lord Ashcroft is calling for the South African government to halt ‘lion farming,’ and the UK to ban the importation of captive lion trophies. The former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman talks to Julia next. Listen live ► https://t.co/sv3MZUm41c@JuliaHB1 | @LordAshcroft pic.twitter.com/mPyW91Y68F
— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) April 29, 2019
“I also call on the UK government to follow the lead of other nations, notably the U.S., in banning the importation of captive lion trophies. We must do our bit to stamp out lion farming and show that we are not in any way complicit with it,” he said.
Unaware tourists are also helping to support the illegal lion farming industry by paying to play with the cubs and walk with adult lions.
“You have got to stop yourself feeling, ‘This is really cool, I’ve just been licked by a real-life lion cub,'” one of the investigators told Daily Mail. “You’ve got to think, ‘No, these poor things are destined for a lifetime in captivity and then the possibility of an appalling death.”