The Global March for Lions (#GlobalMarch4Lions) took place in Cape Town and in roughly 60 other cities all over the world to protest against South Africa’s canned lion hunting industry. Sun Safaris was there – a proud (yet, sole) representative of the travel operator industry based in Cape Town – and we drove our banner to the gates of parliament to address the government and ask for change.
The message of the day was to ban canned hunting in this country; a plea that was echoed globally. We received updates from Aukland, New Zealand, which was visited by hurricane winds and a downpour on the day of the event, yet its dedicated marchers surged on and made their voices heard. Hong Kong, Los Angeles, London, Sydney, Madrid and New York are just a few others that reigned in the troops to roar for lions on 15 March. Those physically present in Cape Town were joined by the resounding voice of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as a recorded speech was played to the crowd as we gathered outside parliament.
Chris Mercer, director of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH), captured the crowd with his practiced discourse on the truth about the industry that is so often sold as ‘conservation’. Luring well intended tourists in with promises of walking with lions, petting and bottle-feeding babies that have ‘lost their mothers’. In truth, those cubs have lost their mothers, but they have been unnaturally removed in order to be hand-reared, while their mothers are prepared to bear yet another litter of cubs, which will also be taken away in turn. Once these lionesses are no longer breeding, they are sold to canned hunting farms where they are bought by hunters and shot as trophies. Once those cubs are too big to be cooed over, they too are sold to farms, kept in groups in small enclosures and await their turn to be bought and killed by can-hunters.
Mercer said on the day of the march in Cape Town that he is “tired of being told that hunters only want to kill lions to help the impoverished masses in Africa”. This is a common misconception and, statistically, the canned lion industry does very little to aid the poor communities and does very much to boost private farms’ annual incomes. Mercer elaborated and said, “Let them donate money if that is a real concern”.
One of the banners at Cape Town’s Global March for Lions called to “inspect all private farms”, which is something we need to urge the government to do to expose the captive lion farms that sell tame lions to be shot, and feeding the illegal trade of lion products. Such a small percentage of funds from any from any Big 5 hunting practices is injected into the poverty-stricken communities, while eco-tourism proves to involve and uplift local people and shares the wealth that tourism generates.
Sun Safaris was an enthusiastic participant of the GM4L on Saturday, which took place under the humbling stature of Table Mountain – an iconic reminder of natural beauty and why we need to cherish it. Nikki Elliott, the passionate organiser of the march in the Mother City, pulled every piece together so that this day could have the most impact possible. Around 1600 marchers showed up, djembe drummers struck the beat of Africa, sound clips of lions roaring sounded through the streets, while highly regarded speakers shared with us their heartfelt pleas to end this destructive trade.