It is a film that can only be called one one word: Compelling. Actually, there’s a second word: Horrifying. The much anticipated feature documentary “Blood Lions” (Public Media Distribution) is a real-life horror story that will disturb as it follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about the multi-million dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa. The DVD will be released January 5.
It is a story that blows the lid off claims made by these operators in attempting to justify what they do. Last year more than 800 captive lions were shot in South Africa, mostly by wealthy international hunters under conditions that are anything but sporting. You’ve seen the headlines; you’ve heard their stories.
Michler has been following this story since 1999, and he goes onto the breeding farms to witness the impacts that decades of intensive breeding is having on the captive lions and other predators. Aggressive farmers, and most within the professional hunting community, resent his questioning, but the highly profitable commercialization of lions is plain to see–cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, canned hunting, trading and the lion bone trade are on the increase; and all are being justified under the guise of conservation, research and education.
“Blood Lions” shows in intimate detail how lucrative it is to breed lions, and how the authorities and most professional hunting and tourism bodies have become complicit in allowing the industries to flourish. The film also follows Swazey, who purchases a lion hunt online from his home in Hawaii. He then travels to South Africa to follow the path canned hunters follow. What emerge are truths as disgusting as they are expensive, but easy to obtain. The program also speaks to trophy hunters, operators and breeders as well as recognized lion ecologists, conservationists and animal welfare experts. Yet there is hope in the horror that the film also covers, such as the latest developments with the Australian government announcing a complete ban on the importation of all African lion trophies into Australia.
“Blood Lions” is a compelling call to action and shows how you can get involved in a global campaign to stop lions being bred for the bullet. Watch the film, and then learn further information on the canned hunting industry by visiting bloodlions.org.