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GEORGES — A Lion's Tale

This is Georges’ story. The story of a lion bred for the bullet, whose crooked tail and small mane meant he was deemed unworthy of a trophy and was instead to be sold for his bones. Georges is one of up to 12,000 lions being kept in captivity in South Africa alone. But Georges' story has a happy ending.

Georges and his crooked tail 📸 Wild at Life

Fortunately, Georges and three lionesses were rescued thanks to the dedication of German NGO Wild at Life. Founder of Wild at Life — Asli Han Gedik — says “Our main mission is to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and rescue the victims of poaching and canned hunting farms to have the peaceful, safe life they deserve. To that end, our work to rescue lions bred to be shot will continue until there are none to rescue. Until all of them finally touch grass for the first time in their lives.”

The Wild at Life team, led by Asli Han Gedik, moving Georges to a sanctuary 📸 Wild at Life

This story comes just a few weeks after the South African government released landmark plans to ban captive lion facilities and halt the commercial use of captive lions and their derivatives. With between 8,000 and 12,000 lions in captivity in South Africa, typically being bred for canned hunting, this decision is sending absolute shockwaves through the country. What will happen to these lions now? Is it the right decision?

Well, I think it's a fantastic, bold move — exactly what the world of conservation needs! There’s mounting evidence that suggests captive breeding does not contribute to wild lion conservation, negatively impacts ecotourism and the wild hunting industry, and even stimulates demand for lion parts for the illegal wildlife trade. Not to mention the ethics of keeping lions in often terrible conditions, canned hunting, and misleading tourists into contributing to this!

Could there be negatives? Yes, potentially. TRAFFIC reported a growing demand for lion bones in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. As South Africa's captive bred lions provided a supply of lion bone, this demand won’t disappear — so will it affect wild lions? Will we see a dramatic increase in big cat poaching? It is possible, and the price of lion bone could also potentially increase as the trade is pushed further underground. Only time will tell!

Illicit Endangered Wildlife Market with wild animal bones and parts 📸 Soggydan Benenovitch

Nevertheless, these recommendations are yet to be made legal, but experts hope that this will happen in the near future and will help to re-establish South Africa as a global leader in conservation.

Project Director for Wild at Life — Carly Åhlén — was heavily involved in the campaign to end captive lion breeding in South Africa and says “While the latest move by the government of South Africa is courageous, it will take time to implement. We must remember this is only the beginning of a new fight because stakeholders such as the South African Predators Association will definitely mount a legal challenge. If all goes well, we still have other regulations to work out to ensure the welfare for the lions still captive across South Africa”.

📸 Wild at Life

Check out Wild at life’s amazing conservation efforts and support them via their website:

Georges and Eva — happy and healthy together in their new sanctuary 📸 Wild at Life


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