It’s a well-known fact that there are more lions living on “farms” in South Africa than in wild and undercover photos recently surfaced show a glimpse of what life has become for some of these majestic beings under captivity.

Lying on the dry, dusty ground and eating scraps of meat, many lions at the breeding facility at Pienika Farm in the North West Province were found to be bald and suffering from mange.

Two lion cubs were discovered with severe disorders, unable to even stand up on their own. Other lions were shoved into crowded areas without sufficient shelter or water.

“South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry is a vicious cycle of exploitation, from cradle to grave,” explained Audrey Delsink, wildlife director of HSI/Africa. “Lion cubs are ripped from their mothers at just a few days old, to be hand-reared by paying volunteers from countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, who are misled into believing the Cubs are orphans.” Things get worse for the animals when they grow up.

“Once too big and dangerous for these activities, these lions are then killed for their bones which are exported to Asia for traditional medicines,” said Delsink, “or sold to be killed by trophy hunters largely from the United States in ‘canned’ hunts in which hand-reared lions are shot in a fenced area from which they cannot escape.”

South Africa is home to fewer than 3,000 wild lions yet in these farms, there are more than double living in cramped conditions. In this case, charges have been filed against Pienika Farm. The two cubs that could not walk were confiscated and brought to a veterinarian. However, the future of the lions at the farm there are more than 100 living there is uncertain.

“These animals can’t just be released into the wild as they’ve been captive-bred and have no idea how to survive,” said Delsink. “There is sadly no quick fix to rehome more than 100 lions all at once. It’s an extremely sad situation, with these lions the innocent victims.”



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