Undercover photos have revealed what life can be like for lions living on “farms” across South Africa — and it is not a pleasant sight.
Many of the lions at the breeding facility at Pienika Farm in the North West Province were found bald and suffering from mange.
“Mange is a skin disease which occurs to mammals [..] it is caused by parasitic, microscopic mites and although these can infect plants, reptiles, and birds, the term ‘mange’ refers to mite-mite-infestation on non-human mammals. The condition causes itching, hair loss, scabs which [..] cause their hair coat to become in a poor condition,” according to US Service Animals.
The lions were only given scraps of meat and could lie on dry, dusty ground.
Two lions cubs were found with severe disorders — allegedly, unable to stand up on their own.
While other ions were shown to be pushed into crowded areas without sufficient shelter or water.
Titled the “snuggle scam,” advocates a Human Society International (HSI) coined the tern for the cycle of exploitation that is led on by these so called “farms.”
It is named this as tourists are tricked into believing that they are helping a completely different type of facility.
“South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry is a vicious cycle of exploitation, from cradle to grave,” says wildlife director of HSI/Africa, Audrey Delsink. “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.”
The story, sadly, continues to worsen for the big cats.
“Once too big and dangerous for these activities, these lions are then killed for their bones which are exported to Asia for traditional medicines,” Delsink said, “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.”
While South Africa is home to less than 3,000 wild lions — at farms like these, there are more than double that living in cramped conditions.
Charges have been filed against Pienika Farm.
The two cubs who were unable to walk were confiscated and taken to a veterinarian.
But as for the fate of the lion farm? With over 100 lions there — the situations 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,” Delsink said. “There is sadly no quick fix to re-home more than 100 lions all at once. It’s an extremely sad situation, with these lions the innocent victims.”
If you feel led to make a difference, you can add your name to a petition requesting the South African government to ban these sad lion farms.
“Urge the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa to put an end to this grotesque industry and prohibit the commercial captive breeding of lions.” the petition reads.
Additionally, you can call on the U.S. to ban imports from lion trophy hunts.
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