Safari Club International Bans Canned Lion
The decision by Safari
Club International to ban canned lion hunting, has sent
shock waves through the hunting community in South Africa.
Canned lion hunting
exists in virtually every province in South Africa and was
born in the province of the Free State, where Tiger Canyons
International is by far the biggest hunting organisation in
the world. It has no less that 180 chapters with over 50,000
Most of the hunters
that sustained the canned lion industry year after year,
were from the USA. Hunters from Europe and elsewhere, also
came to do canned lion hunts, but the USA is the main source
The Safari Club
International decision does a number of things. Firstly, it
prevents any advertising of canned lion hunting at its
conventions. Secondly it sends out a powerful message to its
hunters that a canned lion hunt is not be recognized as a
The ban cuts to the
very psyche of the hunter. In shooting your lion in a canned
lion hunt, you have taken no personal risk, you have exposed
yourself to no danger, you have not entered a “Fair Chase”
with the lion.
This is the equivalent
of saying to an Olympic athlete you won the gold medal at
the Olympics, but you took drugs, you cheated, I am
stripping you of your title.
In South Africa there
are between 7000 and 8000 lions in captivity, mostly males
being bred for the canned lion industry. In the Free State
there are 6 lion breeding operations that have many lions at
The feeding costs to
support these lions is extremely high. If the major supply
of hunters from the USA dries up, these lion breeders will
not be able to sustain.
There is no emotion
attached to these lions, they are purely commodities to be
shot when heir manes are at their peak.
If there are no hunters
forthcoming to the lion breeders, they will have few
a. Look for other markets. This will be
time consuming and costly.
b. Sell lion hunts to South African hunters at discounted
prices. This will not be viable.
c. Euthanize their lions and sell the body parts to China.
(These body parts will be relabeled Tiger Body parts when
they arrive in China)
I predict that the lion
breeders will go for the third option and cash in.
This means the body
parts of several thousand lions may be flowing to China (It
is still legal to export lion body parts from South
I have filmed and
photographed the lions in captivity in the Free State. Some
of the most magnificent specimens are in cages, waiting to
be shipped out to be hunted in canned hunts.
Male lion with belly
manes stretching halfway down their bodies, are pacing up in
down in cages. (Hunters pay more for a belly mane)
If these lions were
reintroduced into the wilds, they would make the most
fabulous tourist attractions. People would flock to
photograph and film them.
To the south of Tiger
Canyons exists an area of 36,000 hectares. This area already
has a predator proof fence around it. Call this area A. The
habitat is entirely suitable for a cooperative predator like
a lion to operate successfully. (Large prides of lions
existed in the area before the advent of sheep farming).
The area to the north
of Tiger Canyons is 15,000 hectares, also with a predator
proof fence enclosing it. Call this area B.
If area A and area B
were added onto Tiger Canyons (area C), then a block of
65,000 hectares could be established.
Some 100 lions that
will perish when canned hunting goes bankrupt, can be
relocated to this park. Leopards can be introduced into the
park. Tiger and cheetah populations already exist. In short
we have a chance of achieving a park where lion, leopard,
tiger and cheetah all co-exist. This is identical to the
mission statement that I wrote in 2000.
I’m appealing to
photographers, conservationists, filmmakers, businessmen,
musicians and philanthropists around the world to help me
make the mission statement become a reality.
A park with tiger
(listed as highly endangered), cheetah (listed as
threatened), lion (greatly reduced) and leopard, all
co-existing, would surely be worthy of a world heritage
International has given us a massive opportunity, let’s use
If anyone is able to
assist in this bold project, please contact me:
Tread Lightly on the
Inbreeding: Two Schools of Thought
Thank you to all who
replied to my last newsletter. It is gratifying to know that
there are so many concerned people around the world that care
about Tigers and their future.
It's important to
understand that there are two big cats that have very narrow
genetic bases. One is the cheetah and the second is the tiger.
Both cats are at Tiger Canyons.
In layman’s language “a
narrow genetic base” means that some time in their evolutionary
journey, these cats nearly went extinct.
A small isolated pocket of
tigers existed in Asia and it is from this population that the
modern tiger radiated outwards.
This theory is given
credence by the fact that on the island of Sri Lanka, there are
no tigers. The island had split from the main land before the
tigers migrated outwards. Therefore, all Tigers today are inbred
as they came from this surviving pocket in Asia.
Some scientists believe
that the Tiger, like the lion and the leopard, traveled south to
Africa when it was all one land mass. Why the tiger did not
survive on the African continent, these scientists cannot say.
Did the habitat change,
were they out-competed, did disease take them down?
Basically there are two
schools of thought in the scientific community. The first school
of thought is that any inbreeding is bad and any cubs born from
related tigers should be euthanized or at least sterilized.
The second group of
scientists of which Dr Pabla (Dr Pabla is a senior tiger expert
in India with years of experience) and Doug Fitzgerald, (Doug
Fitzgerald is a geneticist) is that nature has strong genes and
it has weak genes.
If two related tigress
mate, there will be strong and weak genes. If two non-related
tigers mate there will be strong and weak genes.
When a tigress gives birth,
the strong genes survive and the weak genes perish. The weak
genes are either still born or die shortly after birth or cannot
compete for milk with the strong cubs.
In the film Tiger Man of
Africa, Runti was a weak gene cub and being in a litter of 5,
she was unable to compete and died at 12 weeks old.
We know that all white
tigers originated from a white male called Mohan who was removed
from the wild in the 1950’s.
After mating with his
granddaughter, Mohan fathered the first white cubs born in
If you subscribe to theory
one, then these cubs should have been destroyed or not allowed
to breed. However white tigers have a huge commercial value.
Soon many zoos and circus acts were displaying white tigers in
North America and Europe.
The two white tigresses
“Shine a Light” and “Tiger Bomb” (Tibo), born at Tiger Canyons,
have both been very fine specimens. Both were above average in
size and Tibo has proved to be a very productive breeding
female. (Shine was killed by hunters)
Through a twist of fate as
described in the last newsletter, Tibo has become impregnated
by her son Bird. Three healthy cubs have been born. One is
normal colour and two are white.
There are several
scientific papers which describe the high tolerance of
inbreeding in big cats. Indeed, in leopards we have seen mating
between grandmothers and grandsons. Aunts mating with nephews.
According to theory two, strong genes survive and weak genes
Our dilemma at Tiger
Canyons is do we vasectomize and sterilize or do we let nature
take its course?
Please give me your
thoughts on this.
Tread Lightly on the Earth