Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, along with 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. It's immoral, unethical, against the animals welfare and has no place in this century.

The Story

It is a story that blows the lid off claims made by these operators in attempting to justify what they do. Last year alone, over 800 captive lions were shot in South Africa, mostly by wealthy international hunters under conditions that are anything but sporting.

Ian 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 lion farmers and most within the professional hunting community resent his questioning, but the highly profitable commercialisation of lions is plain to see – cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, canned hunting, trading and the new lion bone trade are on the increase. All are being justified under the guise of conservation, research and education. In parallel, we follow Rick, who purchases a lion online from his home in Hawaii. He then travels to South Africa to follow the path canned hunters do. We also speak to trophy hunters, operators and breeders as well as recognised lion ecologists, conservationists and animal welfare experts.

The film 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. There is also hope in our story as we cover the very 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.

The Back Story

About four years ago, Pippa Hankinson visited a private lion breeding farm for the first time where she found approximately 80 lions in small enclosures - many visibly inbred and clearly stressed. She was deeply disturbed by her experience. Determined to find out more, she learnt that there were between 6000 and 8000 lions living in similar conditions on other breeding farms around South Africa – part of a multimillion-dollar industry – where the majority are sold into the captive "canned lion" hunting industry or to Asia to supplement the “tiger bone” trade. Most shocking of all was not only that the industry was legal, but how few people seemed to know anything about it.

She often quotes Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Animals have always mattered a great deal to Pippa, but Africa’s wildlife and particularly lions are very close to her heart. A documentary seemed the most effective way to raise awareness around the exploitation of these captive-bred lions but never having made a film before, Pippa set about gathering a proficient and committed team of professionals around her. Along with the extraordinary generosity and support of individuals and organisations from around the world, they helped her make this film. Support Blood Lions and get involved here to stop canned hunting. If we bred puppies to shoot you would be shocked. Breeding lions is unethical, immoral and all about money - not conservation.

Breeding lions for trophy hunting can never be justified.



Petitions to sign 

Petition Government
Petition SA Tourism
Petition PHASA

Petition IUCN
Petition CITES

Petition Government
Petition SA Tourism

Donors who made this film possible.

This project has been made possible with the support of:

Marchig Animal Welfare Trust
The Greenbaum Foundation
Foundation Marchig
Maria Norbury Foundation
Remgro Limited
The Summerlee Foundation
Sheryl Leach
© IFAW, The International Fund for Animal Welfare
CACH, Campaign Against Canned Hunting
Philip and Trix Wollen
Avin Lieberman, Dana Lieberman & Maurice Fernandez
Trevor & Shannon Norwitz
Lucy Hattingh
Paul Johnson
Franey Foundation
Colin & Robin Manoy