This is a “need to know” list sourced from bloodlions.org about cub petting, volunteering and conservation.
- Very few, if any of the private lion farms and predator breeding facilities in South Africa can be regarded as genuine conservation undertakings as they do not work in conjunction with recognised lion ecologists and scientists or any of the global predator conservation agencies.
- Most are simply breeding or holding predators for a variety of commercial purposes and making use of volunteers has become one of the most lucrative revenue streams. Some facilities are earning in excess of US$100 000 in some months from their volunteer programmes alone.
- There has not been a successful lion reintroduction programme using captive bred and reared lions in South Africa. Lion conservationists warn that captive bred lions are not suitable for reintroduction programmes.
- There are only a handful of authentic wildlife sanctuaries in South Africa and they do not breed, trade (they mostly receive animals rather than going out to acquire them) or interact with the animals in any way.
- South Africa has no need to be breeding lions for release into wilderness areas. In addition, if there was such a need, using hand-reared or human-imprinted and genetically contaminated lions is not an acceptable way of doing this.
- Taking lion cubs away from their mothers is not a natural process and is only done to exploit the animals and you as the visitor or volunteer.Very few, if any of the cubs you pet and cuddle have been ‘abandoned’ or rescued in the wild.
- Using breeding farms as an educational facility is like using fast-food outlets as a venue to teach about nutrition and good eating habits. In other words, breeding farms and petting facilities do not serve any educational purpose. Instead, they promote the cycle of breeding and captivity.
- In general, the quality and validity of information being given out to visitors on South Africa’s predator farms and facilities is poor. It is also confusing vital conservation messages and priorities. These operations are taking in significant sums of money, which in some ways is a misdirection of valuable conservation funding.
- If you do find yourself on a breeding farm or predator facility, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Do they offer any activities based on animal and human interaction?
- If it claims to be a sanctuary, do they offer life-long care for the animals?
- Are they trading in animals?
- Where did all the animals come from and where do some of them go?
- Who is their recognised predator ecologist or scientist?
- Have any of their animals been released into the wild? And if so, where and when?
Before enrolling as a volunteer or going as a visitor, check the social media sites and blogs for comments and feedback on the particular farm or facility.
Until such time as the voice of the lion is heard, history will be written to glorify the hunter – African proverb