GNF - Lions for Sale – Bred for the Bullet

Lions for Sale – Bred for the Bullet


GNF’s campaign "Lions for Sale – Bred for the Bullet" is official partner of the South African campaign Blood LionsTM and it’s feature documentary “Blood LionsTM – Bred for the Bullet”. The film, which has been produced by Regulus Vision and Wildlands Conservation Trust, has been screened internationally and is a compelling call to action.


The African lion is the iconic symbol of Africa, king of beasts and famous member of the BIG 5. This king, however, is endangered – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that Africa’s lions have undergone a population reduction of approximately 43 % within the past 21 years and estimates that only around 23,000 individuals roam the continent today – with decreasing population trend.


In South Africa, the lion faces additional threat from a multi-million dollar industry, which just emerged in recent times: lion farms. Currently, there are about 200 farms and breeding facilities all over the country holding somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 predators in captivity. The vast majority, possibly as many as 7,000 of these, are lions. This is more than double the number of the remaining wild lion population in South Africa, which is currently estimated to be merely 2,500 - 3,000 individuals. Many of these facilities claim to contribute to protection of the species by breeding and releasing animals into the wild or by taking care of orphaned lion cubs.


These claims, however, are, in fact, far from the truth.


Lions on these farms are rather part of a well-organized business, which has identified the mass production of lions for different, mostly touristic industries, as a highly profitable source of income. Conservationists and animal welfare experts remain deeply concerned about the breeding practices used and the general conditions that exist on many of these lion farms.


With only a few days after birth, lion cubs are taken away from their mothers. This highly traumatizing process for both sides aims at bringing the lionesses into a new reproductive circle as quickly as possible. The cubs are used in the volunteering industry as “orphaned” lion babies that can be cuddled and hand-reared by motivated but often misinformed young adults – most of them believing that the cubs will be re-wilded once they are fully grown. Growing older, the sub-adult animals are used for “walk-a-lion” experiences for tourists and volunteers until they get too large and too dangerous to remain in this sector.


However, as opposed to the advertisement of many volunteering farms raising lions, these animals can never be released into the wild due to their habituation to human beings and the fact that they are often carrying genetic illnesses. This means that these animals have no conservational value at all and only satisfy the greed for profit of the farm operators.


And thus, many of the adult animals are redirected into the canned hunting industry – an industry where human-imprinted lions are “hunted” in confined areas leaving them no fair chance to escape. Alternatively, lions are sold to feed the growing lion bone market in Asia, serving as a substitute for tiger products in the Chinese Traditional Medicine.

As a response to the movie and in support with its South African partners Wildlands Conservation Trust and Regulus Vision, GNF launched its German campaign to stop the exploitative and unethical breeding of predators on farms in South Africa. With the goal to significantly reduce the demand for predator interactive volunteering and tourism as well as canned hunting, GNF raises awareness among young adults, tourism operators and the hunting industry for this mostly still unknown topic.

JOIN US in the fight to end the horror of some of Africa’s most iconic species by THINKING before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK, VOLUNTEER or SHOOT when travelling in South Africa.


Dr. Thomas Schaefer

Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Office Radolfzell

Phone: +49 7732 9995 89


 The campaign "Lions for Sale" on facebook
 Lion cubs in enclosures
Photo: Pippa Hankinson

© Pippa Hankinson

 A life in captivity
Photo: Pippa Hankinson

© Pippa Hankinson

 Volunteers working with lion cubs
Photo: Ian Michler

© Ian Michler

 Lion cubs
Photo: Pippa Hankinson

© Pippa Hankinson

 Close contact to people 
Photo: Ian Michler

© Ian Michler

 A wistful look in the freedom
Photo: Pippa Hankinson

© Pippa Hankinson

Project Partners

 To the Blood Lions Initiative ...
 Logo Wildlands Conservation Trust
 Logo Regulus Vision

Project Period:


Project Countries: 


Project Partners:



since January 2016


Germany, South Africa


Wildlands Conservation Trust, Regulus Vision, Blood LionsTM


Foundation Ursula Merz