54 Lions Slaughtered in 2 Days: Investigators Expose Horrific Farms Where Lions are Bred and Killed

 

 

Dead lions, some skinned and others waiting to be skinned, littered the blood-stained floor. A pile of innards and skeletons lay elsewhere inside, while discarded internal body parts were piled high in overflowing black plastic bags on a trailer outside.

Photographs taken by investigators showed a squalid scene of gore. Many are too horrific to be shown.

A year-long investigation has revealed that 54 lions were killed in a filthy slaughterhouse in South Africa in just two days—thousands of others are being bred and killed for their bones.

“We couldn’t believe what was hap­pening. You could smell the blood. The lions got shot in the camp and then were all brought into this one room. The flies were terrible,” Reinet Meyer, a senior inspector at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told Daily Mail.

A part of a massive repulsive industry, it supplies bones for medicine and trinkets that are sold with expensive price tags in China and Southeast Asia.

Some of the hapless beasts were shot in fenced enclosures by wealthy “trophy hunters of endangered species” said the investigator, Tory Lord Ashcroft, a British businessman, philanthropist, author, and the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom.

“A year ago I started looking at the trophy hunting of endangered species disturbed by the publication of “kill shots” on social networks—those pictures where hunters pose with the animals they have shot,” Ashcroft said in a letter to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the U.K. government. The letter was shared by him on Twitter.

Ashcroft said that his research soon moved into how lions are bred in captivity and he discovered that in South Africa the number of lions kept and bred in captivity was 12,000—four times the number in the wild around the world.

“Purely for the purpose of canned lion hunting and the harvesting of their bones for the Asia market,” he wrote in the letter further saying that he commissioned a massive undercover operation to expose the horrific trade.

Captive-bred lion trophies are first imported to the United Kingdom where such imports are not banned, they are then hidden inside the skin of dead red deer and transported to the United States.

In an “eco-farm” in South Africa’s Free State province, more than 50 lions were slaughtered for their bones in just two days.

The abusive industry is cross-breeding lions and tigers to produce hybrid animals. The hybrids fetch more money as their bones are heavier but many hybrid cubs are born with defects and die very young.

“South Africa is the only country that permits large-scale, captive-lion farming and that has an annual quota for the legal export of lion bones. Many more lion bones are illegally smuggled to the Far East,” said Ashcroft.

He urged the South African government to ban captive-bred lion farming, make it illegal, and also called on the United Kingdom government to take action.

“I also call on the UK government to follow the lead of other nations, notably the U.S., in banning the importation of captive lion trophies. We must do our bit to stamp out lion farming and show that we are not in any way complicit with it,” he said.

Unaware tourists are also helping to support the illegal lion farming industry by paying to play with the cubs and walk with adult lions.

“You have got to stop yourself feeling, ‘This is really cool, I’ve just been licked by a real-life lion cub,’” one of the investigators told Daily Mail. “You’ve got to think, ‘No, these poor things are destined for a lifetime in captivity and then the possibility of an appalling death.”

Dead lions, some skinned and others waiting to be skinned, littered the blood-stained floor. A pile of innards and skeletons lay elsewhere inside, while discarded internal body parts were piled high in overflowing black plastic bags on a trailer outside.

Photographs taken by investigators showed a squalid scene of gore. Many are too horrific to be shown.

“It was shocking,” Meyer said. “We couldn’t believe what was happening. You could smell the blood. The lions got shot in the camp and then were all brought into this one room. The flies were terrible.

“For me, a lion is a stately animal, a kingly animal. Here he is butchered for people just to make money, it’s absolutely disgusting.”

About 200 yards from the abattoir, two lions were housed in steel transport crates that were too small for them to stand up or turn around in. Meyer said they had been left in the crates without food or water for three days.

She initially thought that one of them was dead because it was not moving.

“The lion was so depressed that it did not move at all. It was totally disgusting that they were kept like this.

“A lion is a wild animal, it wants its freedom but now it’s kept in a small cage for three days. It’s absolutely deplorable.”

A total of 54 lions had been killed at the farm in just two days. They were first shot with tranquiliser darts before being shot dead with a .22-calibre rifle. It is understood the bullets were shot through the ear and directly into the brains because overseas buyers will not pay for damaged skulls.

Some of the lions are believed to have been trucked about 400km to the farm from a “safari park” near Johannesburg.

Remarkably, the workers at Wag-‘n-Bietjie are allowed to kill lions. The site, owned by lion breeder Andre Steyn, is one of a series of licensed lion slaughterhouses in South Africa which supply the huge demand for lion bones from South East Asia. South Africa allows 800 captive-bred lion skeletons to be exported each year, but campaigners believe many more are illegally slaughtered to feed the disgusting, but lucrative, trade.

Wag-‘n-Bietjie, which calls itself an “eco-farm” that puts “nature first”, appears to have been issued the relevant permits by the Free State.

Steyn, who is a former council member of the South African Predator Association, a trade organisation for the captive breeding industry, gave Meyer unfettered access to his property.

But along with his foreman Johan van Dyke, he now faces animal welfare charges related to the two lions kept in small cages, and may face further charges related to the way lions were being killed and the squalid condition of the abattoir.

READ: Farmers remain silent at auction so young man can buy his family farm back

What will happen to the 246 lions found at the farm remains unclear. About 100 were reportedly marked for slaughter, but the farm’s permits have been revoked. Their fate will not be decided until Steyn and Van Dyke’s court case concludes.

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