Charities Struggling To Raise Funds In “Animal Welfare Time Bomb”

Animal welfare charities are facing “significant” financial problems in the Covid-19 crisis due to falling donations, the closure of charity shops to protect volunteers, and the cancellation of fund raising events.

There has already been a rise in cancellations of charity donations by direct debit across the UK. The current cost of living crisis has affected rescue charities twofold. Donations have dropped significantly However, the need to help animals in need has increased DRAMATICALLY.

Many people who bought pets during the covid lockdown have handed them into rescue centres because they can no longer (or don’t want to) look after. The cost of living crisis means many people cannot afford the cost of keeping their pets.

To make matters worse, the pandemic struck at a bad time. When Lucy’s Law came into effect in England, many puppy farmers abandoned the ‘trade’ – a victory for animal welfare. However, this led to an increase in breeding dogs dumped to fend for themselves with no regard for their welfare – just as the charities looking after them struggle to raise enough funds to function.

Like many animal welfare charities, we are struggling after lockdown. Covid restrictions and the cost of living crisis has resulted in very little funding coming in. This has dramatically affected our ability to help charities who are really struggling at the moment.

Please help us help other by donating ANY amount, large or small, at the link below. EVERY penny counts at these desperate times.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for helping animals in need.

Certificate of Appreciation

The ‘Animal-Loving’ Ukrainian Sniper Who Rescues Abandoned Pets From Battlefield.

Oksana Krasnova with a rescued dog. (Oksana Krasnova/PA)

An “animal-loving” Ukrainian sniper and her husband fighting on the frontline have rescued dozens of pets after discovering them abandoned on the battlefield.

Oksana Krasnova, 27, uses her wages to pay for food and supplies to nurse the animals back to health before arranging for them to be transported on military vehicles to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to be rehomed.

Oksana Krasnova (left), 27, and her husband Stanislav Krasnov, 35, holding a rescued cat. (Oksana Krasnova/PA)

Oksana had previously worked as a lawyer in the capital until Russia invaded the country six months ago and she joined the Ukrainian frontline defence, fighting in the Donetsk region.

In between working as snipers, Oksana and her husband Stanislav Krasnov, 35, have rescued almost 30 pets they have discovered when passing through abandoned villages.

Speaking to the PA news agency from the frontline, Oksana said: “I love animals a lot and I used to help rescue animals with my husband even before the Russian invasion.

“I come across a lot of abandoned pets when I am going about my duties and I can’t just leave them.

“It’s hard to evacuate animals from the frontline but these poor pets have been used to living with humans so they can’t survive on their own.

“I have my own pets who are being looked after by my parents in Kyiv and I could never dream of abandoning them.”

The first animal the couple rescued was a black dog they found in an abandoned house. (Oksana Krasnova/PA)

Oksana said her most memorable rescue to date was the first abandoned animal she saved on the frontline.

The couple had heard “some strange sounds” while walking through an abandoned house and found a small, black dog trapped in the building.

Oksana said the animal was “clearly traumatised” and had been surviving off raw potatoes when they discovered her.

“I think she had been there for about a month – it was awful,” she said.

“She was just lying on the floor and we placed a pillow under her head while she was barking and crying and foaming at the mouth.

“We had to push her into a box and transport her in our military vehicle.

“She was having seizures and we didn’t think she would survive.”

Oskana and Stanislav have rescued almost 30 pets they discovered when passing through abandoned villages. (Oksana Krasnova/PA)

Oksana fed the dog every hour and cared for her around the clock until her health began to improve.

“We have a friend who has some volunteers out in Kyiv who work with traumatised animals and he took in the poor dog,” she said.

“Months on, she’s now okay and she lives with a foster family.”

Oksana said she mainly rescues dogs and cats but has occasionally helped smaller creatures like birds and rabbits, which she tends to release into the wild once healthy.

“At the moment where we are based we have a herd of pigs with us from one of the nearby villages,” Oksana said.

“Obviously we can’t rescue them as they won’t all fit in our military vehicles but we are making sure they are okay and have enough food.”

The rescued animals have become a huge part of the couple’s life and even when Stanislav was wounded, he was joined by a small kitten while he was strapped to a stretcher receiving medical treatment.

A rescued kitten sits on Stanislav while he receives medical treatment after being injured. (Oksana Krasnova/PA)

“The animals we rescue are really very grateful and loyal,” Oksana said.

“Sometimes it’s really hard (to say goodbye to them) mainly because I spend so much time treating them.

“But I feel relieved because I know that they won’t starve and suffer again,” she added.

How you can help animals in need:
Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for supporting wildlife.

CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION

Ricky Gervais’ Canine Co-Star Antilly Enjoys Booming Career Following After Life Success

TONY AND BRANDY (RICKY GERVAIS AND ANTILLY)

Antilly, the German Shepherd who shared the screen with comedian and actor Ricky Gervais in After Life, is adding plenty of screen credits to her CV since the show.

She won the hearts of TV viewers worldwide as Ricky Gervais’ loyal dog in Netflix smash After Life.

RICKY AND ANTILLY

And thanks to her role as Brandy, the pup who gives Ricky’s character Tony Johnson a reason to live after his wife’s death, Antilly’s career is booming.

ANTILLY

The German Shepherd has been to Belfast to shoot scenes with Hollywood stars Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez for a blockbuster Dungeons And Dragons film.

ANTILLY IN DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS

And she’s starring in upcoming BBC drama Sherwood with David Morrissey and Robert Glenister as well as Netflix spy series Treason with Charlie Cox and Olga Kurylenko.

Antilly has graced screens since she was a puppy, playing everything from Army hounds to police dogs.

She’s also worked with A-listers including Tom Cruise and George Clooney, who said she was the best-trained dog he’d seen.

Antilly’s owner Ashley Foster jokes: “They bring us over to do the serious acting.”

Ashley started as an animal trainer 10 years ago and worked on Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises with Antilly’s parents – he was one of villain Bane’s henchmen with the dogs playing attack hounds.

Antilly followed in her parents’ pawprints and signed with Stunt Dogs & Animals. The company was working on a film with Michael Fassbender and wanted a police dog to bite him – one of Antilly’s many skills.

ANTILLY’S DAD ASHLEY

Using protective sleeves, Ashley, 34, safely directs the clever canine where to bite. He says: “She’s very controlled. As soon as the director calls cut and I tell her to let go, she lets go straightaway.”

Antilly’s skills are so honed, she even managed to convince a scared stuntman on Martin Clunes’ series Doc Martin to do a dog bite scene.

ANTILLY CHASES DOC MARTIN (MARTIN CLUNES)

Ashley, from Bicester, Oxon, says: “He’d done one before, they’d used two ex-police dogs and they couldn’t get the dogs off him. I had to show how she works for him to agree to do it.”

The talented pooch, 10, has a wide range of tricks from shaking her head and limping on command to playing dead. All she needs is the reward of a sausage and Ashley stands off-camera, tempting her with his telescopic bait stick.

(OUTTAKE) ANTILLY AND RICKY ON THE SET OF AFTERLIFE

“She’ll lie there, completely still,” he says. “People could be crying and wailing over her and she won’t move. Every time she does something she will get paid with a sausage.”

Ashley often appears alongside Antilly and after receiving the script, they do lots of prep work to make sure she is happy.

PREPARED FOR AN AFTERLIFE SCENE

Ashley adds: “For After Life there wasn’t really much to prepare for. It was straightforward.”

When they’re not filming scenes, he uses the time to work on training.

He also brings other dogs with him to train, including German Shepherd pup Pen, who has already worked as a police dog in TV shows and will eventually take over from Antilly.

For now, though, she is continuing her film work. Ashley says: “She’s still super fit, healthy and happy and loves to work.”

Ashley and Antilly are backing a new challenge from charity Street Paws, encouraging Brits to walk 274,000 steps in April for every homeless person in England.

Founded in Newcastle in 2016, Street Paws provides free accessible vet care and support services to homeless people and their pets.

STREET PAWS

Ashley says: “The work they do can save people. I’ve known people who are struggling to find housing and have got a dog and are really worried about not being able to find somewhere to live with them.”

What you can do to help rescue animals:
Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for supporting wildlife.

CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

When tomorrow starts without me, 
And I’m not there to see;
The sun will rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry 
The way you did today,
I know how much you loved me,
As much as I love you, 
And each time that you think of me
I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me,
please try to understand 
That an angel came and called my name
And petted me with her hand.

She said my place was ready, 
In Heaven far above, 
And that I’d have to leave behind
All those I dearly love. 

But,as I turned to heel away, 
A tear fell from my eye, 
For all my life I never thought 
That I would have to die. 

I had so much to live for, 
So many sits and downs to do,
It seemed almost impossible, 
That I was leaving you. 

I thought about our lives together,
I know you must be sad, 
I thought of all the love we shared, 
And all the fun we had. 

Remember when I’d nudge your hand,
And poke you with my nose? 
The frisbee I would gladly chase,
The bad guy,I’d “bark and hold” 

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for awhile, 
I’d wag my tail and kiss you,
Just so I could see you smile. 

But then I fully realized, 
That this could never be 
For emptiness and memories 
Will take the place of me. 

And when I thought of treats and toys 
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you and when I did, 
My dog-heart filled with sorrow. 

But when I walked through Heaven’s gate;
And felt so much at home; 
As God looked down and smiled at me,
From His beautiful throne. 

He said,”This is eternity”, 
And now we welcome you, 
Today your life on earth is past, 
But here is starts anew. 

I promise no tomorrow, 
But today will always last; 
For you see,each days’ the same, 
There’s no longing for the past. 

Now you have been so faithful 
So trusting, loyal and true; 
Though there were times you did things, 
You knew you shouldn’t do 

But good dogs are forgiven,
And now at last you’re free;
So won’t you sit here by my side,
And wait right here with me? 

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don’t think we’re far apart, 
For every time you think of me,
I’m right there, in your heart. 

Author unkown

What you can do to help animals in need:
Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for supporting wildlife.

CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION

🌈 A Man And A Dog And Heaven

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

A Man And A Dog And Heaven

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.

Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up’.

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

‘Can my friend,’ gesturing toward his dog, ‘come in, too?’ the traveler asked.

‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in..’

‘How about my friend here?’ the traveller gestured to the dog.

There should be a bowl by the pump.’

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked.

This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?’

‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind!!

Author Unknown

What you can do to help animals in need:

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Everyone who donates will receive a Certificate of Appreciation as a thank you for supporting wildlife.

CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION

Dean Schneider Accused of Abuse But The Media And Lion Conservation Groups Miss The Bigger Picture!

DEAN SCHNEIDER

Captive Wildlife Watchdog has been writing articles about Dean Schneider since, well, since before he ever became a household name. Our first addressment of Dean Schneider occurred before he even possessed lions. We have continued to document his meteoric rise to stardom as a fresh-faced animal exploiter ‘rescuer’ who used his considerable wealth ‘gave up his considerable wealth’ to buy land and animals so that he could ‘rescue animals’ in South Africa and start his own private zoo ‘sanctuary’ called Hakuna Mipaka.

Captive Wildlife Watchdog knew, before Schneider became a star with nearly 7 million Instagram followers, that what Schneider was doing with his animals was exploitive, and we endeavoured from the moment he began promoting himself, to educate the public about this fact. Until now, at the end of April 2020, approximately 3-4 years after we first began discussing Schneider, CWW has been the only conservation group to even acknowledge his existence, much less question it.

No media outlets, or other conservation groups or foundations followed our lead when we began pointing out that what Schneider was trying to do was unethical. No one joined in the discussion about how falsely presenting oneself as Schneider was doing, how interacting with captive wild animals, and gaining fans through those interactions, while feeding them incorrect, or fractured information, was exploitive, and sent the wrong message to the public. Instead, viral articles and videos presenting falsely praising narratives about Dean Schneider–whose PR personnel were actually responsible for–ran rampant, and within only a few months’ time, Schneider went from a few hundred followers and fans, to several million. He now has over seven million fans and growing on Instagram alone.

Making it explicitly clear that Captive Wildlife Watchdog has been the sole voice discussing Dean Schneider, and calling out his exploitation isn’t about our ego, it’s about respecting the fact that we made every attempt to prevent Schneider from ever becoming the entity he now is.

CWW has tried, over the years, to encourage even larger, and more well-known entities to join us in discussing the exploiters we address on our own pages. CWW has tried, over the years, to explain to other conservation entities that they cannot “stay in their lane” and focus only on a micro-specific area and expect the public to grasp larger, more abstract concepts by extrapolation. That’s not how lay-folk with only a superficial understanding of conservation and captive wildlife situations absorb, and retain information. Humans in general do not make choices based in objectivity, but rather, on emotional attachment.

We always encourage our readers to go out and do their own research on a subject, rather than just taking CWW’s word for something. We always encourage our readers to go out and do their own research on a subject, rather than just taking CWW’s word for something. But when CWW is the only group discussing that something, or subject, it makes it impossible for readers who don’t have a deeper understanding of conservation to make an informed decision about whether or not an entity or group is ethical.

Similarly, when conservation groups suddenly comment on someone the public at large admires, without providing the historical context of issues documented by others (like CWW) it’s extremely easy for the public to dismiss any negative remarks or posts as simply “jumping on the bandwagon for attention” and subsequently disregard that information as inaccurate. And when other pages, like the EMS Foundation share links that do lead directly to CWW (we thank you for that) they simultaneously devalue that direct sharing of information when they accompany it with text like “It’s time to examine some of the Big Cat Saviour personalities in South Africa.”  As if doing that is a novel suggestion, rather than the very thing CWW has been actively and continually campaigning for all this time.

DEAN SCNEIDER REPEATEDLY PUNCHES A LION

In the last few days, Dean Schneider has made headlines, after a video showing him punching one of his lions went viral. CWW actually posted this video back on February 23. It subsequently received 40 shares, and almost 150 comments, but no greater public acknowledgement. This video wasn’t the first time Schneider has struck his animals. CWW has posted about his actions and training methods numerous times. It’s not uncommon for Schneider to swat and smack his lions (more on such methods later) and it’s not something he’s ever hidden. But now that the international media has obtained the story, and it’s being circulated widely (without any credit offered to Captive Wildlife Watchdog, for having repeatedly reported on animal exploitation, abuse, and issues regarding Schneider for the last few years) suddenly now others are weighing in with statements on Schneider as a ‘conservationist’.

Even Blood Lions has now made official posts addressing Schneider, stating that:

“Dean Schneider and similar “influencers” set an extremely poor example by perpetuating captive wildlife interactions, especially after SATSA have identified such activities as “unacceptable”.

There is no reason other than for veterinary purposes to interact with captive wildlife. This therefore begs the question of why such influencers insist on wildlife interactions, other than for self-interest and financial gain.

This individual and the facility are involved in nothing other than the commercial, and as seen in the clip, at times brutal, exploitation of wildlife. Centred on a selfish lifestyle choice, the facility, and so many others involved in similar activities, play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.

Although Hakuna Mipaka’s website states that they don’t breed, Schneider has recently allowed one of his lionesses to become pregnant. Captive breeding however serves no conservation value and only adds to the already massive and problematic captive lion population in South Africa, which is estimated at 8000 – 12000. This is 3-4 times as many lions as in the wild.”

Thank you, Blood Lions, for repeating what CWW has been saying for years. Because we greatly respect BL, we have tagged them repeatedly in our past posts regarding exploiters like Schneider, Richardson, and others in SA who capitalize on captive bred lions for interactions. For example, Richardson’s purchase of six captive bred cubs from Ukutula Lion Farm, and his training of children to work with them in order to make a feature length film. Despite putting money directly back into the captive lion breeding industry, Richardson’s purchase of the cubs (now nearly adults) has been widely viewed by his fans as “rescuing” them, and the movie he made using those captive bred cubs has been called by supporters a huge effort in “lion conservation”. Yet Blood Lions has never publicly addressed Richardson’s actions, nor have they ever addressed Schneider’s until now. Perhaps if they had, Schneider would never have made it this far, with a huge cushion of 7 million fans to catch him even in the midst of accusations of animal abuse.

And even after posting such a straightforward statement, BL has responded to questions asking if they no longer support Richardson now, with the circumspect response:

“Blood Lions has never expressed support for nor condoned Kevin Richardson.”

Perhaps BL has never publicly advertised or endorsed Richardson, certainly not that we’ve ever seen. However, very often what a foundation doesn’t say or do speaks just as loudly as what they do say or do. BL has never suggested that Richardson is anything but the lion conservation hero millions view him to be, so why, when Richardson has repeatedly supported and referenced Blood Lions, would followers not presume that BL likewise endorses Richardson?

KEVIN RICHARDSON WITH ONE OF HIS LIONS. CREDIT: JACKIE BADENHORST

CWW was also recently tagged in a comment on a post in Volunteers in Africa Beware. Our long time readers might recall that ViAB is not a fan of CWW, and has attacked us several times because of our criticism of Kevin Richardson. Now ViAB has created a section devoted to Dean Schneider, and have made posts in regard to him. In response to the commenter who tagged CWW and expressed relief that ViAB had finally seen the light in regard to Schneider, ViAB responded that since Schneider didn’t take volunteers they’d been busy dealing with exploiters who did take volunteers. What ViAB isn’t acknowledging is the fact that take volunteers. What ViAB isn’t acknowledging is the fact that Schneider did, in fact, accept volunteers. He even advertised for them actively for the first two years or so he was around. And Captive Wildlife Watchdog reported on this fact repeatedly. It was only in response to CWW’s steady pressure that Schneider stopped taking volunteers in order to make himself a non-profit’ in an attempt to get CWW off his back.

We’d also like to note, that both these well respected, and well known groups have chosen to share mainstream media articles created amidst the recent viral stir which, aside from referencing the video of Schneider punching one of his lions, We’d also like to note, that both these well respected, and well known groups have chosen to share mainstream media articles created amidst the recent viral stir which, aside from referencing the video of Schneider punching one of his lions, contain numerous counts of false information the sharing of which only serves to further public confusion and actually makes Schneider more likable and relatable.

It would have been more informative for readers (and respectful to us as the only established conservation page addressing these exploiters) if these other pages had linked to CWW where there is a large amount of information devoted to Schneider. Again, this is not about trying to get credit, or a pat on the back, it’s about respect. CWW has tried repeatedly to engage others like Blood Lions in discussing exploiters who directly interact with their captive big cats, like Dean Schneider, and we have consistently and largely been brushed aside, and ignored. Now everything CWW has been devoted to reporting on, and educating the public about has become a front-and-centre topic–in no small part because CWW has been devoted to reporting on it, and we shared the video that started all of this back in February.

In focusing solely on Schneider’s physical strike on his lions, the mainstream media, and those conservation groups sharing the limited, and erroneous articles produced by it, are missing the In focusing solely on Schneider’s physical strike on his lions, the mainstream media, and those conservation groups sharing the limited, and erroneous articles produced by it, are missing the bigger picture, and picture, and bigger discussion, which must take place in order to achieve true change. If people didn’t idolize those who interact with captive wildlife, specifically in this case lions and big cats, then Schneider would never have possessed a lion to hit in the first place.

These CONservationists, who perpetuate big cat interactions, such as Kevin Richardson, Schneider, and Serio, along with others, all parrot some variation of the phrase “People protect what they love”. They profess to be spreading awareness and education by making the public fall in love with the captive wild animals they interact with.

But this ideology is fundamentally flawed from birth, for several reasons. It both establishes and reinforces the premise that humans literally aren’t capable of caring for, or conserving something they aren’t personally enamoured of. If the same rationale is applied to other areas, this would indicate that humans will not care for starving or sick people or animals they don’t have a personal attachment to, will not fund efforts to salvage artwork they don’t personally admire, will not partake in supporting relief aid to an area of the world they don’t personally care about, and so on and so forth. Not only is the proposition grossly disheartening, and completely inaccurate, but it also orients the entire ideology around how humans feel, making human wants and human needs the primary precondition which must be met and fulfilled by everything else, This then commodifies the captive wildlife involved as merely an asset to be used in achieving the goal of addressing human wants and human needs.

To this end, captive big cats held in naturalistic settings are substituted for wild big cats in actual wild settings, accompanied by rhetoric claiming that by loving and embracing these captive bred, captive held big cats, the general public will be able to conserve wild members of the same species. Captive bred lions have, effectively, become a beloved surrogate for the real deal, To this end, captive big cats held in naturalistic settings are substituted for wild big cats in actual wild settings, accompanied by rhetoric claiming that by loving and embracing these captive bred, captive held big cats, the general public will be able to conserve wild members of the same species. Captive bred lions have, effectively, become a beloved surrogate for the real deal, wild lions. And the continued breeding of captive lions, the continued use of them in interactions with their caretakers, represents a physical manifestation of the choice to embrace captive lions over, and instead of, wild lions. For every captive lion bred, ‘rescued’ and cared for, time, money, public devotion, effort, resources, etc. are diverted from the protection, and conservation of established wild lion populations, and the ever-shrinking wild habituate they live in. This is compounded by adored ‘heroes’ like Richardson, and Schneider justifying their purchase of captive bred lions as ethical rescues, worthy of supporting.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on tourism and ‘conservation’ which is focused solely on captive bred, captive held lions, while existing wild populations are poached, starved, and killed in human/lion conflicts. Scientific studies on wild lion populations struggle to gain funding, while studies attached to captive lions (like those bred by LionALERT and Ukutula) are readily funded and then used to support the breeding of more captive lions, as well as misinforming the public that it will all go to saving wild lions in wild spaces.

To use an old American phrase which was historically used in crass reference to women having sex before marriage “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Why spend thousands of dollars on an African safari with no guarantee of seeing actual wild lions in wild spaces, even in the handful of ‘hotspots’ which are highly trafficked, when you can go to a managed reserve and see captive bred lions in a large natural-but-fenced setting? Why spend years obtaining grants and monetary backing for scientific research on wild lions when your subjects could be killed by poachers, or farmers in conflicts, throwing your entire study off when you can just study captive lions in naturalistic captive settings and then extrapolate your data to be applied to wild lions? Captive bred, captive held lions (including those living on game reserves, not to be confused with nature reserves) have become a billion dollar industry of commodity, while wild lions in wild spaces have become ageing artefacts, fast fading from relevancy.

If we want to live in a world where wild lions still exist in wild spaces we absolutely must change the ideology that captive bred lions in captive situations can somehow fix the plight of wild lions in wild situations. The two are entirely separate issues. Interacting with captive lions cannot, and will not, save wild lions. This fact has been proven by the continued decline of wild lions in association with the continued rise in captive lions. It’s no longer open for debate. Captive lions are growing, and wild lions are dying.

As long as interacting with captive lions is excused and accepted, this trend will continue. It simply is not possible to play favourites, when it comes to interacting with captive big cats, and excuse the behaviour when carried out by one party while criticizing it from another.

 Per Blood Lions’ recent post regarding Dean Schneider:

 “Similar “influencers” set an extremely poor example by perpetuating captive wildlife interactions, especially after SATSA have identified such activities as “unacceptable”.

There is no reason other than for veterinary purposes to interact with captive wildlife. This therefore begs the question of why such influencers insist on wildlife interactions, other than for self-interest and financial gain.

This individual and the facility are involved in nothing other than the commercial, and as seen in the clip, at times brutal, exploitation of wildlife. Centred on a selfish lifestyle choice, the facility, and so many others involved in similar activities, play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.”

Everything in this statement is 100% accurate.

Which means that Blood Lions should, ethically speaking, specifically name the “similar influencers” they’re referencing, in order to better education the public as to who they are. For example, Kevin Richardson. BL is a South Africa group, and Richardson is the preeminent influencer engaging in wildlife interactions which have been identified by SATSA as ‘unacceptable”. Let’s call a spade a spade here, shall we? It is more than beyond time for those who wish to actually end the perpetuation of captive wildlife interaction to bluntly and publicly make a stand against those promoting it, like Kevin Richardson.

If, indeed, interacting with captive big cats is done for “self-interest and financial gain” and is an example of a “selfish lifestyle choice” and that such facilities “play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.” it would have been extremely beneficial for Blood Lions to public say so in a forthright manner when Kevin Richardson oversaw the purchase of six lions cubs from Ukutula Lion Farm, and then proceeded to spend three years training children to interact with them while making a feature length film about interacting with captive lions. Yet here we are, five years on, a young woman killed by one of those six captive bred, lions, trained to interact with a different young woman, and Richardson is comfortably ensconced with a new young pride of lions to continue interacting with for the next couple of decades, having faced no real backlash aside from that offered by CWW.

And what will happen after this media splash regarding Dean Schneider has passed? Will Blood Lions, and ViAB continue to discuss Schneider? Or will their vitally important voices disappear as quickly as they showed up?

Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. We desperately need other conservation groups to stop playing politics and start educating the public in a whole-picture approach. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them because. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them because there is no fundamental difference to see.

Dean Schneider’s lions (from what CWW can ascertain) receive the same balanced diet and level of veterinarian care and attention that Kevin Richardson’s lions receive. Richardson took his lions out on ‘enrichment walks’ until one of them killed Megan van der Zwan, and now he’s created a huge new fenced enclosure in which to walk with them for ‘enrichment’ purposes. Schneider’s lions live in a massive, natural enclosure wherein they will eventually be allowed to hunt live food, and are provided with a very naturalistic life–aside from Schneider interacting with them.

Schneider, and Richardson both learned to handle lions through interactions at established exploitive facilities, both now refer to themselves as animal behaviourists, both have participated in various ‘conservation projects’ beyond their own facilities, both have spent time with outreach programs, both profess to educate the public. Schneider is dealing with the current drama of a video purportedly showing him to punch his lion, something that he’s already successfully segwayed into a boost in followers, while Richardson trained children to strike lions in the face during the making of Mia And The White Lion, a movie which gained worldwide notoriety and accolades.

MIA AND THE WHITE LION

The public supports both of these figures because Richardson has been, and continues to be upheld as a saviour of lions, while Schneider is simply the “2020 modern model” of Richardson.

Making a couple of posts in the throes of a viral skirmish about alleged abuse on the part of Dean Schneider is simply not good enough to effectively reverse the public fixation with captive big cat interactions. Neither is sharing articles which do as much to support Schneider, by repeating his own self-serving false information presenting him as someone with ‘good intentions’ as they do criticize him.

Unless entities like Blood Lions, Volunteers In Africa Beware, EMS Foundation, Captivity Kills, People Against Canned Hunting, Voices For The Voiceless, and the hundreds of other pages, groups, and people who have shared Blood Lions’s posts, and ViAB’s posts about Schneider also start naming, and including entities like Kevin Richardson, and Eduardo Serio, Sirga The Lioness, and others who operate solely on the basis of interacting with their captive big cats and other wild animals, nothing is going to change in the future.

CWW has wondered for years, now, as stated in one of BL’s recent posts about Schneider, yes, “why do these individuals gain a ‘hero status’” for interacting with their captive lions when “we have real conservationists and wildlife rangers working to protect our heritage” of wild lions in wild spaces on a daily basis?  Of wild lions in wild spaces on a daily basis? Why indeed?

Thus, CWW would like to alter the EMS Foundation’s suggestion to more accurately state that

“It’s time” for conservation groups, and entities to join CWW’s ongoing examination of “the Big Cat Saviour personalities in South Africa.” rather than only chiming in when there’s a public uproar on the matter.

We will never stop in our efforts to educate the public about the fact that interactions with captive bred wildlife only serves to promote interactions with captive bred wildlife. Regardless of acknowledgement, or whether or not CWW is ever offered the common respect for having lead the way in addressing this matter openly and publicly, CWW will continue as we have for the last several years. However, it will remain an uphill battle to counter the ideologies set forth by exploiters like Schneider, Richardson, and those like them, so long as established pages, groups and foundations, continue to refuse to take a solid stance on the subject the way we have.

Circling back to the errors being reinforced within the viral articles which are shared so much attention during this frenzy, we are addressing the major points below.

Among the false information being provided in the articles which are now being shared by established conservation entities like those mentioned above, thus spreading the false information further:

– This is a shocking, unexpected incident, which has caused Dean Schneider’s fans to question him, and accuse him of abuse.

False

Schneider has struck his lions before, and Captive Wildlife Watchdog has discussed it before, pointing out that other entities who handle their big cats do likewise. As mentioned by CWW in our articles, the “asserting oneself as a pride member” involves striking big cats. Eduardo Serio of Black Jaguar White Tiger has done it, and so has Kevin Richardson. Richardson has even coached the child-actors of Mia And The White Lion to “grab his tongue, smack him, do whatever you’ve got to do” in order to get an adolescent lion to release its grip on her head while wrestling on the ground together. In that video, the young child actress can be seen slapping the lion in the face, and it then releases her, at which point Richardson congratulates her and praises her actions. Schneider’s propensity for striking his animals is so well documented that his fans have immediately responded the two accusations of abuse by defending Schneider, and providing explanations as to why what he’s doing is not abuse, but rather Haters are simply lying about him out of jealousy.

Dean Schneider quit his job in Switzerland to move to Africa and care for a pride of lions.

False

Schneider did not quit his job, or give up a lifestyle, or sacrifice anything in order to move to Africa to care for lions. After visiting Africa with the investment company he ran, LifeGate AG, Dean Schneider chose to purchase land in Africa, and open his own ‘sanctuary’. In order to grow his fan base, Dean Schneider himself propagated the story that he’d given up everything he owned, and abandoned an exclusive lifestyle in order to move to Africa. His PR people created these stories and disseminated them repeatedly, and intentionally in a calculated move to create viral sensations. It worked, especially with the help of Bored Panda, who shared one of those fake articles, resulting in millions of news and shares. CWW took Bored Panda on directly, and our confrontation with them resulted in a deletion of their post about Schneider, followed by a cover up that they’d ever promoted him. The entire event was documented in a Note published by CWW, which we would love to link readers to, but cannot, as Schneider reported it for under false DMCA accusations, and Facebook removed our note. This is standard for Schneider, who also reported CWW for posting a hyperlink to the music video which was filmed on Hakuna Mipaka, wherein his lion Dexter was used as a prop. Schneider regularly jets back and forth to Switzerland, and is still listed on several banking businesses as a founder, or other entity, and enjoys lavish receptions celebrating himself as an influencer.

Dean Schneider received no training in animal handling before moving to Africa and starting his sanctuary.

False

Schneider first worked with Klaudia Kollar of Malkia Park Big Cats Rescue. In its earliest days (opened to the public in 2016) Malkia Park allowed direct contact with the big cats in its care. Schneider worked with them on a regular basis, from cubs to adults. But when Kollar came to the realization that handling captive big cats, and allowing the public to also do so, only contributed to the problem, and normalized interactions between humans and big cats, she ceased all hands-on activities (CWW has spoken with Kollar several times about this, and while videos of her interacting with some of the cats continue to circulate, there is no indication anything is more recent than 2016, when we first encountered her and she was in the process of going hands off). After the ban on interactions, and hands-off care was put into place, Schneider parted ways with Kollar. He chose to purchase land in South Africa, having already visited at that point, with LifeGate AG for a trip, and made connections with Luke Cornell, of Cornellskop Animal Encounters. Cornellskop is also where Schneider met Jesse, his “right-hand man”. Under the guidance of Luke Cornell, Schneider worked with lions and other big cats, including cheetahs, handling them at all stages of development, from cub to adult, including training methods. Schneider also learned all about various species of primate, had exposure to captive bred wolves, and hyenas, along with herbivores like elands, zebra, giraffe and other antelope species. Schneider possesses licensing to breed and sell animals, and has bought those in his care, likely from sources or contacts associated with Cornellskop, which also breeds and sells. Hakuna Mipaka shares a huge number of species also found at Cornellskop, including elands, zebra, lions, hyenas, cheetah, primates, reptiles, and wolf-hybrids or wolves. A fan of Schneider’s has helpfully created this nearly 20 minute long video, titled “Beautiful Old Moments” which showcases just how much experience and interaction Schneider had with big cats and primates in the period before he founded Hakuna Mipaka. The greener, more urban settings shown are Malkia Park, while most of the rest is footage from Cornellskop.

The above points are examples of Schneider’s own misinformation formulated to present himself as a pious hero who sacrificed a world of privilege to embrace a life of struggle, surrounded by his ‘family’ of ‘rescued’ animals. The false narrative has worked to magnificent effect, allowing Schneider–in the absence of any countering forces aside from CWW–to create a massive fan base. Even the current media kerfuffle pertaining to his abuse in the form of punching one of his lions has helped, rather than harmed him, pushing his follower count beyond the 7 million mark on Instagram.

And damage control on Schneider’s part is well underway. In a 6 minute Instagram post, Schneider explains to his fans that everyone who does anything worthwhile in life will, at some point, face Haters who, out of jealousy, boredom, or unhappiness with their own lives, will attempt to take down those who are more successful, more popular, or just better people, than they are. Schneider goes on to explain the video that shows him throwing punches, even playing the entire clip (which is cut short in the Gabo-released footage) and stating that while the articles written by Haters claim he’s being investigated for abuse, he’s never been contacted by authorities. Schneider then invites authorities to come to Hakuna Mipaka and meet him, and inspect the facility. The video has been viewed nearly 2 million times as of this drafting. A second, much shorter video, in which Schneider laughingly thanks all of his Haters for helping him surpass 7 million followers, has been views over 1 million times so far.

Here is the fact that is not being acknowledged or discussed by the media (because the authors of these viral articles are not experts and are ignorant) or by the conservation pages sharing them and making statements of their own in regard to all of this drama:

Schneider’s physical strikes on his lion will not, and we cannot stress this enough, will not be categorized as abuse of a level that warrants citation, or removal of those animals. Period. There is no one, and again, we cannot stress this enough, there is no one, who interacts with captive big cats who has not whacked those cats on the nose, head, body, etc. during their training and interactions.

Fans may not witness it in videos, may not believe it occurs, but the fact remains that it does, and anyone who claims they have never done so while interacting with their captive big cats is lying.

Whether it’s a stick, or staff, a shoe, the flat of a hand, a whip, elbow, a human body part, or artificial aid, all captive big cats who are directly interacted with by humans have been struck at some point in order to ‘lay the boundary’ of what is, and is not acceptable during those interactions. The only way to prevent this from happening is to prevent humans from engaging in interactions with captive big cats, and captive wildlife in general. This is the conversation that the media, and those sharing the media’s limited articles could have, and should have, engaged in.

What’s happening right now in regard to Schneider is like Americans attacking Harvey Weinstein in the US for his engagement in abusive activities, but not demanding that Hollywood stop supporting the activities that Weinstein is being vilified for participating in. Schneider exists because the current regime within the captive big cat world allows, and rewards, the interaction of humans and captive big cats in the form of popularity and fandom. It’s the only thing that makes it possible for people like Schneider, Serio, Antle, to exist. And in South Africa, that regime was built from the ground up, in no small part, by Kevin Richardson. Lion farms, captive lion breeding, and canned hunting have existed for many years prior to the last two decades (Douglas H. Fletcher is attributed to have started breeding lions in captivity in the 1960s, and in 1980 established Sandhurst Safaris, lions being one their primary game animals. Now called Tinashe Outfitters and run by Fletcher’s son, Clayton they hosts all manner of big cats. But being touted as a conservationist, and beatified as a hero for interacting with captive wild lions is an immediately modern archetype created by and exemplified Richardson alone. Until this revered archetype is publicly dismantled for the fraud that it is, others are going to continue adopting it, and exploit

You can keep up to date with Captive Wildlife Watchdog updates and exposés HERE.

What you can do

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

126 Dogs With Pet Collars Rescued From Dog Meat Slaughterhouse In China

SOME OF THE DOGS RESCUED FROM THE DOG MEAT SLAUGHTERHOUSE

As the Chinese dog meat festival in Yulin came to an end last month, 126 dogs, believed to once be pets, were rescued from an illegal slaughterhouse 1,000 miles away.

Thanks to animal advocates from Vshine, local Xi’an activists, the Baoji Small Animal Protection Association, and a group of police, law enforcement officers, and the mayor from Fufeng County, the animals escaped the brutal death that was awaiting them. The team worked to close down an illegal dog slaughterhouse.

The Rescue Carried Out By Humane Society International

When they arrived, they found a gruesome scene with dead dogs on the floor, pools of blood, de-hairing machines, and knives. They also found processed dog meat and a pile of pet collars in the corner of the facility. This is just more proof that all too often pets are stolen from the streets, their homes, and farms and taken to be killed for meat.

Vshine, an organization that campaigns across Asia for the end of the dog meat trade, released a video and photos of the horrific scene. Many of the dogs found alive at the scene were German shepherds, Labradors, Huskies, Golden Retrievers, and other scared and emaciated pups. They huddled together in the filthy slaughterhouse but despite what they had been through, many were eager to receive comfort from the activists. They believe that most of the dogs were once pets.

MOST OF THE DOGS HAD COLLARS

Ziyang Huang from Vshine told the Humane Society International, “This was a horrendous slaughterhouse and we are so grateful to the tip-off by the Xi’an activists so that we could rally together and get this place shut down before any more dogs suffered and died there. The dogs we found alive were whimpering and distressed but very happy to see us. They were standing in their own filth with blood and dog fur all around, and slaughter equipment just nearby. They will likely have witnessed dogs killed and butchered right in front of them. The amount of pet collars we found was really shocking, and the gentle, friendly nature of these dogs tells us probably most of them were once part of a home and somehow ended up at that terrible place. That’s just one of the reasons why we campaign to end this cruel dog meat trade.”

Animal campaigners from Vshine recently teamed up with police from the city of Shaanxi to help rescue nearly 400 dogs from a truck that was headed to the Yulin festival.

Although dog meat is still a huge problem in China, most people there don’t eat dog meat and oppose the industry. It is not a part of China’s mainstream culinary culture and the country’s concern for animal welfare is growing. In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs made a statement saying that dogs are companion animals, not “livestock” for eating. That same year, two cities in mainland China banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision that was supported by nearly 75 percent of Chinese citizens. However, an estimated 30 million dogs are killed a year for meat in other parts of Asia.

Sign this petition to urge the government of South Korea to create programs to transition dog meat farmers into more ethical industries and protect all dogs! 

What you can do

Support ‘Protect All Wildlife’ by donating as little as £1 – It only takes a minute but it can last a lifetime for an animal in need. Thank you.

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible.

A Testimony To Why Trophy Hunting Is A Vacuous Void, Devoid Of Any Moral Or Ethical Compass That Undermines Africa’s Indigenous Culture.

Below, is the full testimony of an anonymous source, a former member of the Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) team that radio-collared and studied Cecil prior to him being killed.

CECIL LIVED IN HWANGE NATIONAL PARK, IN ZIMBABWE. HE WAS LURED OUT OF THE PARK WITH AN ELEPHANT CARCASS BY AMERICAN TROPHY HUNTER WALTER PALMER

This anonymous source’s first-hand account of the killing of Cecil 7 years on is an appropriate testimony, not only to the callous way in which American trophy hunter Walter Palmer et al took this pride male Lion’s life for their own self-gratification and/or financial enrichment (the ethos of trophy hunters and the industry that panders to them in general), but also a testimony to why trophy hunting is a vacuous void, devoid of any moral or ethical compass that undermines Africa’s indigenous culture. That is why the long outdated, notion of a bygone era of colonial entitlement and the predominantly white foreigner’s self-proclaimed ‘right’ to kill African wildlife for sadistic entertainment as espoused by trophy hunting must end:

“The physical act of a white hunter coming in and going out on their exploratory adventure, to conquer and kill an animal – that act rehearses the history of colonialism. That point is not lost on people who live in local communities, and it should not be lost on those of us from the country sending trophy hunters” (page 146) – Dr Chelsea Batavia

Senior environmental scientist

“When I started reading the narratives of trophy hunters, I was struck more than anything by the similarity with the narratives of terrorists when they talk about what they do” (page 151) – Professor Geoff Beattie, Professor of Psychology, Edge Hill University. Author, ‘Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective’

The economic forces that drive the trophy hunting industry can be replaced with a balanced approach that enriches Africa’s own cultural identity and interaction with its native wildlife, free from the imposition of the destructive, greed-based desire of the trophy hunting colonial mindset and its bloated lobby heavily financed by vested interests.

ANON – a former member of the Oxford University Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU)

“I worked for close to a decade as a field researcher on the Hwange Lion research project in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The initial focus of the work was the impact of trophy hunting outside the park on the Lions inside the park. There was a lot of darting, collaring and observational data to collect. I spent 7 days a week tracking Lions, catching and collaring them and getting to know them. Soon that developed into a study of the conflict between people and Lions, a subject I eventually specialised in.

Cecil was a very large mature Lion in Hwange. He was special because very few male Lions ever survive as long as he did, and thus a lot was made of his huge mane and the fact that it was black. The black mane is a genetic trait that is quite strong in Hwange Lions, but very few Lions survive long enough for it to present. Cecil was dominant over some of the best Lion real-estate in Hwange and this too was the area best for tourists. That is why he was so well-known. He had large prides and he was seen daily by tourists. Cecil was very much in his prime when he was shot, despite him being 12 years old or so. The hunters made a case that Cecil was old and therefore past his prime, but that was not true. He was still breeding and in perfect condition. He was considered old because most Lions are shot long before getting to that age. He was one of two males in a coalition. They were unrelated but had forged an alliance because together they were stronger.

On the night of the 1st of July 2015, a couple of professional hunters (PHs) and their client were sitting about 40 or 50 metres from a blind overlooking a dead elephant. Between 9 and 10pm Jericho, Cecil’s coalition partner, ran past the blind and started feeding on the elephant. Jericho was a very large Lion in his own right and was about a year younger than Cecil. His saving grace was that he was blonde. Walter Palmer – the trophy hunter who shot Cecil – has subsequently said that he didn’t know about Cecil and hadn’t come to hunt Cecil specifically. However, the fact that they didn’t shoot Jericho while watching him feed for over an hour meant that they knew that a larger and darker Lion – the traits a trophy hunter prefers – was still to come.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: THE LAST KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF CECIL (WITH BROTHER JERICHO STANDING BEHIND HIM)

Cecil arrived about an hour later. Walter Palmer let loose his arrow. Cecil ran off wounded. The hunters left to go back to camp for the night. Normally when a client is about to shoot a Lion from a blind, his professional hunter (PH) is ready too with his rifle. If the client’s shot doesn’t kill the Lion instantly, then the PH shoots the animal to “secure it”. This is common practice because a wounded Lion is dangerous to follow up and nobody wants to do it. The PH is professionally obliged to “back up” the client’s shot to avoid a wounded animal. In this case, however, Walter Palmer had told his PH not to back him up. The reason for this was that Walter Palmer was after Safari Club International’s bow-hunting record for a Lion. If a rifle was subsequently used, then the bow-hunting record would have been disallowed. So Cecil ran off wounded, and the hunters simply went back to camp.

In the morning, at around 9am, the hunters returned and tracked Cecil down. He was badly wounded and hadn’t gone far. Walter Palmer then finished him off with a second arrow. From statements made to police, we understand that when Palmer and the PH approached the Lion they saw the collar and panicked. The PH said that he took the collar off and placed it in a tree before following his client. When he returned he said the collar was gone. We know from the GPS data that the collar was collecting, however, that they then gave that collar to someone who carried it around for a couple of days to mimic a Lion’s movements in order to confuse us and presumably buy time to get the client out of the country. On the morning of July 4, the collar sent its last GPS point and was presumably destroyed. We never found it.

There was no permit for hunting a Lion in that area. The PH had purchased a Lion quota from another area. He was hoping to hunt Cecil and export it as one of the others shot elsewhere. Illegal practices such as those are relatively commonplace.

During my time as part of the Lion project, it happened maybe a dozen times that we know of. Usually the collar is destroyed and we only find it months later. In Cecil’s case he had a new satellite technology collar which meant all its data is sent to a server and even when the collar is destroyed the data is safe and accessible.

CECIL ENJOYS A MOMENT WITH A LIONESS. THE FAMOUS LION WAS KNOWN FOR BEING UNAFRAID OF HUMANS.

I became something of a pariah in Zimbabwe after the story died down. At first, when the story broke, I was the only person on the ground speaking to the press, and I was complimented by the authorities and WildCRU alike. However, when the hunting industry approached the government and told them that if they pressed for Walter Palmer’s extradition they would lose their industry, there was an about-turn.

Suddenly it was said everything was legal and no charges were pressed. I was left alone on the end of the plank, surrounded by sharks. I still had to go to meetings with the very landowners in the Gwaai Valley where Cecil had been shot where I was screamed at and accused of destroying the industry. I slept with a loaded rifle by my bed for many months, always waiting to hear a vehicle approaching our home at night. I have since been subjected to all sorts of abuse and character assassinations, including now having a file of everything I had ever posted on social media printed and given to Zimbabwe’s secret police, the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation), the Parks authorities, local chiefs and so on. I was banned from entering the park for over a year and forced to delete my Facebook page. I have had to keep a very low profile since.

The situation of Lions today is difficult. There were 1.2 million wild Lions in the 1800s. Now there are around 20,000. They are doing well in protected areas. They are under threat from habitat loss, though, as well conflict with livestock owners which includes retaliatory killing and – worryingly – preventative killings before they kill any livestock. Lion conservation is all about boundaries. On park boundaries, where mortalities are man-related, that is where we lose Lions.

Much value is placed on the value of Lions in terms of economies, both for hunting and photographic safaris, and that is very important. However, to me these are the least important of their three values. The other two are cultural value and ecological value. The cultural value of Lions is all around for us to see. There was a premiership match a while ago between Manchester United and Chelsea. Three of the largest sports brands on earth and all three – the premier league being the third – have a Lion in their logo. That doesn’t even describe the value that the Lion represents to Africans which can hardly be quantified.

The most important aspect or value of Lions, though, is their ecological value. It is very much like the value of wolves which people are now understanding when they were lost and then reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the US. Lions keep landscapes healthy, rivers flowing and arid areas regenerating whilst avoiding desertification. Simply put, Lions keep browsing animals bunched in dense herds moving which avoids overgrazing. Savannahs are healthier with Lions. The loss of Lions would be a catastrophe for the people of Africa and for the globe to have lost the most iconic species on earth. Economies would suffer and ecosystems would have lost a key component that keeps millions of hectares of Africa from becoming desertified.

PALMER SHOT CECIL WITH A BOW AND ARROW ONCE THE LION LEFT THE SAFETY OF THE PARK, ONLY WOUNDING HIM. HOURS PASSED BEFORE THEY FINISHED HIM OFF

The 2015 IUCN Red Data analysis on Lions reported that trophy hunting was one of the main contributors “to an astonishing decline of 42% of the continent’s total Lion population.” Trophy hunting is detrimental because it targets the largest animals. With Lions, trophy hunters target the males with the darkest manes too. In nature, if a male has those two traits – in other words, he is the largest and darkest male in the area – then he is the pride male. Period. So hunters are targeting the very animal that is maintaining pride stability and holds all the best genes. The loss of that individual is felt for months after his death and over a large area for many species including ours. When a pride is stable and the male is in tenure undisturbed, his male offspring usually leave the pride at about 3.5 – 4.5 years old. They often leave in coalitions and have had plenty of hunting experience to allow them to fight for a territory and take one over for themselves. They are considered adults and will avoid humans and their livestock as a rule. The daughters will tend to stay with their mothers and that continuity is the maintenance of a pride and their territory.

CECIL’S PRIDE: CECIL’S CUBS IN 2015

If a pride male dies naturally, in a fight for instance, the new male is probably stronger with some genetic advantage. He will kill all the cubs from his predecessor and very quickly mate with all receptive females and get his genes into the system as soon as he can. And rightly so, as he is the strongest male around now. If the pride male is hunted, though – and we know that trophy hunters target the pride males by virtue of the fact they are after the largest, darkest males – then the weaker males that couldn’t beat the pride male move in after the hunter has left with his trophy, and the stronger male’s cubs are killed and replaced with weaker genes. We have seen a situation where a coalition of four males in a pride were trophy hunted and up to 16 cubs and sub-adults were killed by new males after the fact. So we don’t just lose 4 males – we lose 20 Lions altogether from that hunt.

Infanticide as I have described sounds all very clinical, but Lionesses if nothing else are the best mothers alive and they hardly just sit and allow their cubs to be killed.

They either fight, in which case they too can be killed, or they flee. Africa’s parks are large, but the Lionesses will flee to the only place that an adult male won’t follow her to kill the cubs, and that is often amongst people. When they leave the parks to avoid infanticide and find themselves amongst people, they rarely find wild prey to live off.

So they may start killing livestock. I noticed this pattern many years ago and I know that WildCRU has the data but they won’t publish it for fear of upsetting the people that give them their permits to study Lions – for example, the Parks department managers who receive money from Lion hunting.

As a result, we are told that trophy hunting is not the largest source of Lion mortality but that conflict with livestock is. This story shows that trophy hunting is in fact a major, if not the major, driver of that conflict. Ironically, the hunters that are responsible for the conflict spikes are often called in to deal with the “problem Lions” with no mention of the fact that they caused it. We have had prides of Lionesses birth 4 or 5 cohorts of cubs and not see a single one reach adulthood because they are caught in this cycle. No sooner have they moved out of the park and started killing livestock than they lose their cubs to snares and “problem animal” control. If the Lionesses survive they now move back to the park without cubs to protect and mate with the new males. Their own cubs are born when hunting season comes around and those males are killed too.

The Truth About Cecil’s Death and The Future of Africa’s Lions

And so the process repeats itself. All the time, Lions are getting the blame and hunters are seen as saving the day. Conflict work is the hardest work of all, especially if you are trying to be sensitive to people and protecting Lions. I have attended meetings where every man attending had an axe on his shoulder for me if the meeting went badly! Yet in Hwange, we know without a shadow of doubt that trophy hunting had the single most significant effect on Lion mortality. As Dr Andrew Loveridge of Oxford University WildCRU has written, levels of hunting mortality exceeded deaths of Lions in conflict with people or killed in wire snares set by poachers and also far outstripped natural levels of mortality. Other sources of mortality such as retaliatory and pre-emptive killing of conflict Lions are often driven by trophy hunting too. So the total impact of trophy hunting is enormous.

Lions breed quickly and their numbers can recover very swiftly once hunting is stopped. We saw Hwange’s Lion population nearly double in the 4 years that Lion hunting was stopped. By allowing the pride males to mature, their protection means that Lionesses lose fewer cubs to Hyaenas. The sub-adults leave later when they are more experienced and can get a territory, rather than get chased around by adult Lions until they too escape the park and predate on livestock – and end up being killed as a ‘problem’ animal.

What perhaps churns my stomach most are the prizes offered by groups such as Safari Club International. To win the highest Safari Club International award, it is estimated that a trophy hunter must kill more than 300 animals. This is one of the strongest arguments against trophy hunting. The hunting and killing of animals purely for ego is a colonial relic that has no place in modern humanity. Pro-hunters argue that if we stop hunting, then the lands that are set aside for it quickly turn to alternative, less Lion-friendly land uses. Slave owners and traders used a similar argument to counter the proposed abolition of slavery. If you ban slavery without finding an alternative source of labour then you won’t have sugar in your coffee, they might say. But that was not an excuse to keep an inhumane system going. It was banned, and people were forced to find an alternative, and so will conservationists when trophy hunting is banned.

MAJESTIC

If you wait, though, then there is no incentive to change. I actually advocate for traditional hunting in protected areas believing that people too are key components of healthy ecosystems, and traditional hunting is a disturbance activity that keeps animals moving and avoids overgrazing. Trophy hunting, though, has no place in African culture. If we are to strengthen Africa’s appreciation and protection of their natural heritage, we must look for links to their cultures. Currently, trophy hunting makes traditional African hunting illegal, and we call them poachers – while rich foreigners come and kill the wildlife with a red carpet rolled out for their arrival. It is vile and has to be consigned to history. These animals should not be sold and hunted as a commodity, but rather they should be part of a strong cultural and ecologically healthy system.

To ensure the survival of Lions, we need to get Africans to feel that the Lions are theirs and not only there for the privileged foreigners to shoot. Often I hear that there are people who have signed a letter saying that the world should leave Africa to manage its wildlife the way it sees fit. I agree with that in principle. However, when I read the list of names, especially from Zimbabwe, I see nobody who represents ordinary people. I see politicians with interests in the trophy hunting industry promoting hunting as “Africans managing their wildlife”. Trophy hunting has no place in African tradition. It is very easy to assemble corrupt people to sing the new song that the powerful trophy hunting lobby want to push, namely that trophy hunting is about promoting African self-determination.

I do believe Africans should decide how to manage their natural resources, but it is almost that they need to be allowed to re-learn what this means. All our park managers are trained by the colonial system under the “if it pays it stays” mantra. Let us instead promote a system change where self-confident Africans, who know what Lions and other wildlife mean to them culturally, and without outside influences, decide what to do with their rich resources. That is paramount. The rest will come easily after that.

I have advocated for the Lion to be declared the first World Heritage Species. This means not seeing it as a tax to ensure the survival of Lions, but rather as a celebration of an animal that means so much to all of humanity. Brands that use Lions for their marketing should come under pressure to pay into a fund that supports the types of work I describe above. Lions are important, but they are also the most efficient means of protecting large areas and a plethora of other species. If you give Lions what they need, their prey will be looked after and their landscapes as well as the people that have to live with them.

It is time to ban trophy hunting, set up Lion as the first World Heritage Species, and raise funds from businesses that use Lions in their marketing. That money should be used to protect Lion landscapes with less stick and more carrot, build up Africans in a way that they can explore what Lions and their wildlife resources mean to them both culturally and ecologically, and empower them to make those decisions.

BELOW ARE PHOTOS OF WALTER PALMER WHO KILLED CECIL IN THE PRIME OF HIS LIFE

US TROPHY HUNTER WALTER PALMER (LEFT) WITH ANOTHER LION HE KILLED
PALMER IS SNAPPED HERE WITH A RHINO THAT HE APPARENTLY PAID £13,000 TO KILL
PALMER WITH A LEOPARD FROM HIS NOW CLOSED FACEBOOK PAGE

© BRENT STAPELKAMP

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible.

Trophy Hunting Will NOT Save Africa’s Lions – So the UK Ban On Imports Is a Positive Step For Wildlife Conservation.

TROPHY HUNTING WILL NOT SAVE LIONS

Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation: “Over the past 25 years, I have spent a lot of time counting Lions as part of my job. Only last month, I spent three hours with two males – possibly brothers – right next to my car in Maze National Park, Ethiopia. Lions come in the night, very quietly. Despite weighing well over 20 stone (around 150kg), you do not hear their footsteps. What you hear is their breathing, the turbo of the killing machine.

Had I turned on a light immediately, they would have run away. These Lions are skittish, even if they face no threat from trophy hunters in Africa’s national parks. So we spend half an hour in the pitch dark before I finally switch on a small red light to count the eye reflections. Another pause, then a bigger red light enables us to see their sex and age.

We get lucky: with the big spotlight they move to a discrete distance, but we still get to watch them for an hour before retiring to our tents a few hundred metres away. The Lions have long lost interest in us but the ranger makes a campfire which smoulders all night, just to be safe. This park has no outposts, no visitors and no emergency services, so we need to stay out of trouble.

HANS BAEUR ASSISTING WITH TRANSLOCATING A LIVESTOCK-RAIDING LION TO WAZA NATIONAL PARK, CAMEROON.

Maybe you have counted Lions in a zoo or wildlife park: “I see three – no wait, there’s a tip of another tail and a flickering ear, so four, or five?” People on safari in popular destinations where Lions are habituated to cars may have had the same experience. In the wilderness, however, Lions are hard to spot – across much of their range you don’t see them very often at all, especially during the day.

I have spent countless nights sitting on top of my vehicle, playing buffalo or warthog cries with a megaphone, trying to catch a glimpse of Lions attracted by these sounds. I have walked for days to find footprints or put up automated camera traps. For every day of fieldwork there is a day of grant writing before and a day of reporting afterwards – but yes, it is a wonderful job.

I once found Lions in a part of Ethiopia where they had not been documented and added a blob on the distribution map. Unfortunately, over the last 25 years, it has been much more common to reduce or delete entries from our African Lion Database.

My research shows that during this time, Lion numbers have decreased by 43% throughout Africa, and that their range has declined by more than 90%. There are now roughly 25,000 Lions in 60 separate population groups, half of which consist of less than 100 Lions. Their existence is particularly threatened across West, Central and East Africa.

I first went to Cameroon in 1992 to do my masters project in Waza National Park, and have worked in various parts of Africa ever since (I currently live in Mali). My main research focus with WildCRU – Europe’s first university-based conservation research unit – is the mitigation of human-Lion conflicts. I study the difficult balance between people’s livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity, working close-up at village level but also at national and international perspectives.

This led to me being asked to give evidence to the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Banning Trophy Hunting, which on 29 June 2022 presented its report on the impacts of trophy hunting to the environment secretary, George Eustice. This follows the UK government’s announcement in December 2021 that it would ban the importing of body parts of 7,000 species including Lions, rhinos, elephants and polar bears. On average, roughly ten Lion “trophies” are imported into the UK each year, among many other threatened species.

There are many ways to look at this issue, and the debate usually ends up in a deadlock between utilitarians and moralists. I won’t hide my sympathy for the latter – I work with organisations such as the Born Free Foundation. But after a week in the field living on pasta and tinned tomato sauce, I will eat bushmeat in a village with no alternatives if it has been harvested legally and sustainably.

The future of trophy hunting in Africa was not on the table during the APPG’s discussions about a UK import ban – and if it was, it would be for African scientists to advise their governments of the pros and cons. In my view, however, the evidence is clear that trophy hunting has not delivered for wildlife in most parts of Africa, and that local communities benefit next to nothing from its continued practice.

How trophy hunting works

Trophy hunting is a controversial topic in conservation circles. In some cases, the fact that Lions are doing better in parts of southern Africa has – wrongly, in my view – been attributed to it. But in itself, trophy hunting is not the Lions’ biggest threat either; my research shows that more are killed when they attack livestock, or perish when their habitat and prey is diminished by agricultural encroachment or poaching.

In Africa, trophy hunting’s popularity grew during colonial times when all sorts of slain animals were sent back to Europe. Nowadays, antelopes are this industry’s most hunted animals – but the most prestigious targets remain the “big five”: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhinoceros and Buffalo.

LION IMAGE FROM A CAMERA TRAP IN DINDER NATIONAL PARK, SUDAN. HANS BAUER

A client might pay a local entrepreneur or hunting guide anywhere between £10,000 and £100,000 for a “bag” that includes a Lion – and the super-rich may pay (or donate) even more. It’s a lot of money for a holiday, and trophy hunting mostly attracts rich, white, middle-aged men from western countries.

Hunting guides are businessmen (almost all are male). They generally lease government land that has been designated for conservation through “sustainable use”. Known as trophy hunting “blocks”, these areas vary widely (anywhere between 500km² and 5,000km²) and each has annual quotas for the amounts of different species that may be shot by trophy hunters.

In theory, this restricts the killings to a level the population can sustain. Hunting guides then manage their blocks to maintain these wildlife numbers, including organising anti-poaching patrols. The guides employ staff, pay the land lease, trophy fees and a bunch of other costs – including to a taxidermist and export company to deliver the skin and skull to their client after the kill. It is a big industry that claims to be good for both wildlife and local people, but these guides are not charity workers; they maximise their benefits and minimise their costs.

Trophy hunting also does not focus (as is sometimes suggested) on killing off the older, weaker animals in any block. Wildlife populations grow fastest when their densities are low, so that food and aggression are not limiting factors. In order to minimise any such competition – and to offer the biggest trophies – trophy hunts will target healthy animals, not just the old and infirm.

Lions and livestock

The methodology used for setting trophy hunting quotas varies from country to country. Cameroon, for example, has traditionally had very high quotas for Lions, but these were not based on scientific rigour. In 2015 we published our first survey results based on observations done by three teams tracking Lions over a vast range.

Each team drove for thousands of kilometres across Cameroon, very slowly, always with two trackers stationed on the bonnet of each 4×4 looking for footprints. We got stuck, camped, waited for trophy hunters to depart before being allowed into a particular area, struggled to get diesel, tolerated the heat and the tsetse flies – it was all part of our daily routine following the Lions.

Ultimately, we counted 250 Lions, 316 Leopards and 1,376 Spotted Hyenas. Cameroon does not offer a trophy hunting quota for Leopards, and Hyenas are not popular with hunters – but as a result of our count, the country’s annual Lion quota was reduced from 30 to ten. Today this quota is still applied throughout northern Cameroon’s Bénoué ecosystem, which has 32 trophy hunting blocks in between its three national parks.

Of these 32 blocks, however, more than ten no longer have any resident Lions. And when the blocks lose their Lions, this also threatens those living in the national parks – as there is a big difference between having 250 Lions spread across 30,000km² of contiguous habitat, or three isolated populations of 50 in parks of 3,000km² each.

GRAZING LIVESTOCK CAN BE EASY PREY FOR LIONS AT NIGHT. HANS BAUER

When I visited Cameroon again in 2021, I observed cattle everywhere – which is not a good combination with Lions. Many of these herds had come from neighbouring countries – pastoralists running from the threat of terrorists in Mali and Niger. As a result, the pressure on these areas, and those who manage them, is intense. It is hard enough to integrate local communities in conservation work, much harder with nomadic people.

Whenever livestock grazes in an area with Lions, you inevitably get some depredation. Lions will kill some livestock and, in retaliation, people will kill some Lions. This is perhaps the biggest challenge in Lion conservation, and all the programmes I know are working to mitigate it. There are tools available to reduce the damage, from flashlights and watchdogs to mobile enclosures and more. But this only works if you know the people living there and can collaborate towards a common goal – not if you have different people passing through every time.

In fact, the pastoralists I have met are usually quite tolerant – they like Lions. A herder in Cameroon once told me: “If a Lion attacks one cow this year, I will know that God has not forgotten me.” Another in Ethiopia said: “We do not think Lions take our livestock to hurt us. As a result, we do not refer to it as an ‘attack’ or ‘killing’ – they are taking what they need.”

Nonetheless, some people – pastoralists and others – inevitably pay a high price for co-existing with Lions, and they would prefer them in someone else’s backyard.

I have collared Lions in several countries. I know the thrill of a hunt, but a dart gun does not kill – and the information you get from a Lion’s collar is amazing. In Waza National Park, I followed Lions this way and some behaved very well – but the worst offender killed a hundred-thousand dollars’ worth of cattle in our time there. The park’s warden asked me: “How long do you think the local people will pay this price for Lion conservation?”

Almost all Lion trophy hunting zones in Africa are part of larger ecosystems that include national parks, and in most cases the hunt quotas are based on the entire population of Lions, including those living in the parks. An argument used by trophy hunters is that they are protecting extra land with extra Lions – but it’s not that simple.

While trophy hunting blocks do add Lions and extra habitat, they can still become a drain on the overall population when Lions move out of the parks into emptied territories within the blocks. These so-called “source-sink dynamics” became a global news story in July 2015 because of Cecil, the black-maned Lion that my WildCRU colleagues were satellite-tracking when he was killed by an American trophy hunter.

Cecil had been lured from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and was shot by Walter Palmer, a dentist from the Minneapolis area. It was actually quite a routine occurrence, but the death of Cecil the Lion created a worldwide media storm – feeding into the UK’s proposal for a ban on trophy hunt imports.

The model starts to unravel

Throughout most of Africa, Lion numbers are declining. While trophy hunting is far from the only reason for this, the evidence clearly shows it has failed in its promise to provide a significant boost to wildlife conservation. I once thought it might offer benefits too, but studying its impacts and costs has taught me otherwise.

Trophy hunting is allowed in countries throughout East, Central and West Africa including Burkina Faso, Benin, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Congo – and in all these countries, Lion declines have been particularly steep. The Central African Republic is the most extreme example: almost half the country was designated as hunting blocks, yet wildlife there has all but disappeared. In 2012, the late researcher and conservationist Philippe Bouché published Game Over! – the title said it all.

A MALE LION IN ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK, CHAD. PHOTOGRAPH: HANS BAUER

Trophy hunting has proved increasingly vulnerable to, on one hand, rising management costs due to the increased threats of agricultural encroachment and poaching (of both Lions and their prey), and on the other, reduced income from smaller wildlife populations.

Two rules-of-thumb are widely used: a sustainable annual “harvest” is one Lion per 2,000km², and the annual management of a trophy hunt block costs around US$1,000 per km² . Together, they suggest it costs around two milLion dollars to “produce a Lion”. These numbers vary hugely between areas and, of course, trophy hunters shoot other species at the same time, but exceptional conditions are needed for the hunt companies to break even. At the same time, local communities living with wildlife are, understandably, demanding their fair share. The model starts to unravel and fall apart.

In Zambia and Tanzania, for example, 40% and 72% respectively of trophy hunting areas have been abandoned. Management costs are rising and private operators do not find it profitable any more, except in a handful of the best areas. This is not due to any outright ban but rather, the inability to balance of costs and benefits.

Across Africa, in the vast majority of cases, trophy hunting has not delivered more Lions – whether because of financial imbalances, increased terrorism, land mismanagement or increased livestock mobility (or a combination of these factors). This failure to deliver undermines the already contested justification for the continued killing of Lions by trophy hunters. And as the decline continues, many communities stand to lose a wildlife heritage that could, under a different approach to conservation, provide them with employment and stability.

Success stories?

Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa are often cited as models for conservation, which implies their experience could be replicated elsewhere. Trophy hunting has been presented as a success factor in these countries. But in reality, how instructive are the experiences of two large countries with a combined population of less than 5 milLion people for the other bilLion-plus Africans living in more densely populated areas?

Certainly, these two countries have a lot of wildlife – but is this due to the effects of trophy hunting, or to very low human population densities, diversified tourism industries and well-resourced wildlife institutions? In Botswana, trophy hunting was banned from 2014 to 2020, but despite abundant polemicising from both pro- and anti-hunting advocacy groups, I’m not aware of any evidence of a significant impact on its national Lion and elephant numbers. In short, Botswana’s conservation efforts will succeed with or without trophy hunting.

LION NUMBERS ARE HOLDING UP WELL IN BOTSWANA.

While southern Africa has, in general, been quite successful in keeping its wildlife species stable, this is also not always through natural processes. There has been a lot of habitat engineering and captive breeding, so that many of the animals you find in confined nature reserves are, in fact, bred and auctioned.

In South Africa, for example, around 8,000 Lions live in captivity for the benefit of a small number of rich owners, having been bred like livestock. This model does nothing to improve habitat or biodiversity levels, nor does it support rural socio-economic development. The country’s overall trophy hunting quota is around five wild Lions and 500 captive Lions each year, and while the US banned trophy imports from South Africa in 2016, most imported Lion trophies into the UK have been killed there.

Another issue for Africa as a whole is that biologists have flocked to southern Africa’s conservation hotspots such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa, which possess good infrastructure and lots of wildlife. As a result, there is an over-representation of people who have worked there among Africa’s community of conservation science, advocacy and practice. Many may never have worked outside southern Africa, and may not be aware of what is happening in the rest of the continent.

I’m not denying that some countries have been successful in their conservation efforts, and that trophy hunting has, in isolated cases, been part of that success. But the “if it pays, it stays” approach which seems to underpin many arguments in favour of trophy hunting has much more often led to the loss of natural ecosystems. This decay affects the vast majority of Lion ranges, and an even greater majority of African citizens.

The banning of trophy hunt imports in the UK and elsewhere can, I believe, help to reduce or even reverse this decline. The UK ban is supported by a large majority of British voters. France, the Netherlands and Australia have already banned Lion trophy imports, and the EU and US have restricted their imports. Since most clients want their trophy, that means significantly fewer potential clients overall, indirectly affecting Africa’s policy options.

The way forward

Throughout the continent, most policymakers stick to the prevailing narrative that trophy hunting supports conservation. In this way, a small white elite continues to have exclusive access to conservation areas that are off-limits for the average citizen to visit, or for public agencies to invest in. Trophy hunting is getting in the way of much-needed innovation and investment.

I agree with trophy hunters that the land they use is important habitat for Lions and their prey. No one wants these areas to spiral down. However, the current situation feels like that famous frog in boiling water story – countries in Africa are afraid to jump out until they no longer can.

HANS BAUER ASSISTING AUTHORITIES TO MOVE A CONFISCATED LION CUB IN ETHIOPIA

The largest and most important conservation area in West Africa is the 25,000km² W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) region, on the boundary between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. With around 400 Lions, it is the only three-digit Lion population in West Africa, and it also possesses the largest West African populations of elephant and buffalo.

Half of WAP’s land is managed for trophy hunting. Yet over 20 years, these blocks have contributed less than 1% of the region’s total conservation budget. Much of the area is now increasingly threatened by terrorist incursions and large parts have been abandoned, including the hunting blocks.

In Benin, however, the situation is changing. Lion trophy hunting has been ditched and a trust fund established that promises to fund the country’s conservation activities in perpetuity. While mainly funded by Benin and German government agencies, the fund has an independent international structure and several other donors have contributed. The park’s management, now delegated to a non-profit organisation, is striving to improve local livelihoods by generating employment and offering support for community initiatives that do not harm the local wildlife.

Of course, we should not expect wildlife to fix poverty and instability where 50 years of development work have been unsuccessful. But I visit Benin every year and where I used to find a dozen friendly but unorganised staff, I now see hundreds of local people trained, employed and proud. In the past, some children might have gone to school reluctant to learn things they would not need as subsistence farmers. After visiting the park, however, I see signs that they want to learn skills and compete for career options their parents did not have.

Another glimpse of a better future can be seen in Akagera National Park, Rwanda, which was completely depleted in the 1980s and 1990s. Rwanda is the only country in Africa with a population density higher than India’s. It is a country facing a huge number of challenges, yet Akagera is a conservation success story. Following an initial investment in the area’s recovery, it is now breaking even through ecotourism with primarily Rwandan visitors. While this cannot be expected to work everywhere, it has worked in this most unlikely of places.

The true cost of saving African Lions, and their prey and habitats, is estimated to be around US$1bilLion per year. With such funding, Africa could quadruple its Lion numbers up to 100,000 without creating any new protected areas. At the moment, Lions exist at only about a quarter of their ranges’ full capacities. Funding and community engagement are both critical to increasing this figure.

Ultimately, international solidarity is a much more substantial, and sustainable, source of funding than trophy hunting. Our approach to the extinction crisis should be similar to the one for climate: biodiversity justice as well as climate justice. The 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow discussed the proposed annual fund of US$100 bilLion to help less wealthy nations adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. A similar fund for supporting global biodiversity will be proposed at the COP15 summit in Montreal in December 2023. A bilLion dollars for Africa’s Lions and other wildlife may sound unrealistic, but in the arena of international policy, it should not really be a problem.

African nations are sovereign, and hold the key to the future of the Lion. Some may be keen to retain trophy hunting – but they know that demand is shrinking as UK politicians are the latest to respond to the concerns of their constituents.

Above all, the trophy hunting debate is divisive, draining energy from conservationists in Africa and around the world who agree on most other issues. Now is surely the time to focus our efforts on far better alternatives for the conservation of Lions and other endangered species.

Remember those two Lions in Maze National Park? They are part of a small population which has the park as its core area, but which roam the entire landscape in that part of southern Ethiopia. Sometimes a few Lions make it across to the next park for some welcome genetic exchange. Maze’s head warden has lots of rangers to assist in monitoring them, but only one motorbike. There is no hotel for hours around, no fuel station, no media. He does not need trophy hunters, he needs a car.

As told by Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation, University of Oxford.

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible

Animal Rescue Centres Are Having To Turn Animals Away As The Cost Of Living Crisis Forces People To Give Up Pets

Britain’s rescue centres are on the brink of an animal welfare crisis with many of its centres ‘full or close to capacity’

Overstretched rescue centres are having to turn dogs and cats away and put them on waiting lists, as the cost of living crisis forces growing numbers of households to give up their pets.

While inflation has soared to a 40-year high of 9.1 per cent, the cost of some animal essentials has climbed at an even steeper rate, notably dog food, which has risen in price by more than 16.75 per cent over a year.

Andrew Gillon, director of operations at the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT), which operates five rehoming centres in the south of England, said “For the first time, almost all of our centres actually have waiting lists for animals coming into us.

“Financial reasons are always central to why people have to relinquish their pets, so with the added pressures of the cost of living crisis we are seeing, and will continue to see, people unable to look after their animals.

“Most people are absolutely heartbroken when they have to give up their pet. We will never judge, and always support people who try to do the best for the animal. It’s a horrible situation.”

“We’re starting to see the knock-on effects of this as we, and other charities, predicted. Tragically we’re starting to see an increase in the abandonment of pets and growing numbers of cats and dogs being rescued and coming into our care.”

Miracle’s Mission, a charity that rescues and rehomes sick, injured and disabled animals have a lengthy waiting list due to fewer people adopting.

Paul Christian, Patron of the charity, says there the number of referrals are rising but due to fewer people willing to foster or adopt they cannot take any more.

We have a long waiting list of dogs and cats looking for foster homes. We are looking for foster carers to take care of dogs and cats until we can find them their forever homes.

“We’re rehoming and fostering dogs as quickly as we can – but as soon as we free up a kennel space, there’s a dog to fill it again,” he added.

While national organisations are able to make use of vacancies across their network, smaller charities like Miracle’s Mission have no choice but to add pets to a lengthy queue.

Families across Britain are grappling with high fuel bills, record petrol prices and rocketing food costs, as inflation hit a level last seen in 1982.

According to animal charities, it costs £50 to £70 a month to own a dog, while cats cost an average of £80 per month

Despite the costs, more Britons than ever are pet owners. March data from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) suggests that more than 3.2 million people in the UK had acquired an animal since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and 17 million UK households were responsible for a total of 34 million pets.

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Sponsorship: £30 sponsors one of our animals for a month and helps with feeding, vet bills and physiothery sessions etc….

…….. but ANY amount helps.

Miracle’s Mission, a small charity with a BIG heart!

ELLA ~ ONE OF MIRACLE’S MISSION SUCCESS STORIES