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Are "Canned Hunts" for African Lions Worth It?

There's a lot of money on the line for a canned lion hunt. You just have to ask yourself: is it worth it? 

I came across this news story shortly after it aired on national television and was a little taken aback by what I saw.

At first, I felt ashamed that I was so naive to not be fully aware that canned lion hunts were as popular as they were in South Africa. Then I felt a little angry that hunters would actually pay as much money as this to shoot a fenced-in lion. Not only are these fenced-in lions, but lions raised by hands in cuddle farms to allow tourists a safe photo opportunity.

My first reactions were to take the side of the hunters - since I'm a hunter. Something has to be going on that animal rights people don't want the general public to know about. The money has to be going to help villages, animal conservation, stopping ebola, something...right?

I've been spending some time researching this and couldn't find anything. This seems to be a straight for-profit business. $100,000 for a white lion goes right to the owner of the high fence ranch. I may be wrong, but if that money is going to good cause, then they sure make that information hard to find.

My next thought was that this isn't as prolific as CBS says it is. A few lions get shot by hunters on a high fence ranch and the antis come out of the woodwork. As a hunter, we all know this same old story. It happens all the time in America. I'm against high fence hunting here too, just for the record, but to each their own. It's a business. I get it. I also choose not to support it.

Check out these stats of lions taken by a hunter from each country on a canned hunt found on

Country/number taken:

Austria 44
Belgium 23
Bulgaria 17
Croatia 6
Cyprus 5
Czech Republic 105
Denmark 55
Estonia 5
Finland 57
France 95
Germany 99
Hungary 47
Italy 29
Lithuania 10
Netherlands 7
Poland 62
Portugal 18
Romania 8
Slovakia 36
Slovenia 4
Spain 443
Sweden 11
United Kingdom 20

Now for the United States

2007: 395
2008: 547
2009: 470
2010: 351
2011: 406
2012: 423

Those numbers are pretty shocking, especially coming out of America.

You can guess the voice coming from the antis trying to stop this sort of hunting from taking place in South Africa. I searched pretty hard trying to find the voice from the people supporting this sort of hunting as well. Do you know what I found? A few websites that offer a hunt for $24,000+ say it takes the pressure off of the wild population. That's it.

I can buy that. That makes sense to me. For every caged lion that is shot as a trophy, a wild lion will survive. At least for wild lions, the meat and money go to the tribes and people of that area. Wild hunts are also managed hunts so only specific numbers of wild lions are allowed to be taken per the region's managed predator/prey ratios. However, taking managed wild lions and taking hand-raised lions in cages are two different things.

In my opinion, this is a shameful money game for any hunter willing to pull that trigger. If you have the money to spend to shoot a dangerous lion, people that own high-fence cages in South Africa will set a lion loose and you can shoot it. What an accomplishment.

I hope they at least tell the truth when their friends ask how they shot it.

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Are "Canned Hunts" for African Lions Worth It?