So I’ve just come home from a quick grocery shop and at the counter I spotted a lion bag. Cool. I usually pick up whatever wildlife-ish charity bag that Woolies has going, and I like lions.
What I didn’t know until I got back to the car is that it was a Blood Lions bag and even contained a copy of the controversial documentary on DVD.
I’d been wanting to get my hands on the DVD for some time. It’s a documentary that’s really, really hard to watch. I watched it when it first came out and I’m not going to watch it again, even though I’ve got it now. But it’s something I often find myself encouraging my safari guests to look up and watch.
Sometimes when we’re sitting watching lions sleep, a safari guest will say something like, “I can’t believe people used to hunt these things!”
Then I’ll say something like, “Actually, people are still hunting them. Today. Right now as we speak, there a quite a few people in South Africa hunting a lion.”
I don’t think anyone’s ever believed me.
“But it’s not like this...” I go on as I point at the lions in front of us. “The lions aren’t wild. They’re bred for hunting. They’re in cages… sort of… not wild lions. They’re not Kruger lions… They’re different… and it’s horrible and it’s different and it’s tragic…”
And that’s how I fail at explaining the canned hunting industry. Every time. I’m not qualified to take on such a gigantic issue and I don’t pretend I am.
I’m not opposed to hunting. I wouldn’t do it, but I’m not opposed to it when it’s done a certain way. The canned lion industry in South Africa isn’t hunting. It’s just sick. And people have to know about it. But people also have to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. It’s something people should learn about before getting to Africa. Not something their safari guide should be dropping on them. And presenting with a fair amount of bias, I might add.
I’d encourage anyone coming out to Africa for a safari to go a little deeper when it comes to researching activities. Are you planning to ‘walk with lions’ or play with lion cubs? I regret that I didn’t know any better when I went on one of these ‘walking with lions’ experiences in Zimbabwe in 2008. I see some of my safari guests heading into these experiences with the same naivety. It’s important to learn about how it’s all connected.
Anyway, I don’t know where I’m heading with this. It breaks my heart. I’m just thankful that a place like Woolworths is sticking the issue all over their shopping bags. Without education, this stuff is just going to keep going on unchecked…
Watch the documentary. Read about it. Read widely. Read the arguments put forward by every side. Educate yourself. Love lions.
Look here: http://bags4good.org.za/lions
And here: http://www.bloodlions.org