On the 6th May 1997, the award-winning “Cook Report” broadcast on British Television a programme called “Making a Killing”. For the first time, it brought the hideous canned lion hunting industry in South Africa to the world’s attention with Roger Cook posing as a tourist hunter, to be taken on a hunt for lions and specially imported tigers. We would love to show you this footage but copies do not seem to have been preserved for the public.
We owe a lot to Roger for raising the flag on this sordid, cruel industry and we can report that Roger feels as strongly today about the issues he uncovered as he did the day he filmed this important piece of investigative journalism. Unfortunately he cannot be with us on the March as he is recovering from surgery, but he has taken the time to write the following important message:
“So-called ‘canned hunting’ involves unfairly preventing the target animal from escaping the hunter, thereby eliminating ‘fair chase’ and guaranteeing the hunter a trophy – for which he will have paid up to £25,000. The hapless animal is handicapped either by being confined to a small enclosure or because it has lost its fear of humans as a result of hand-rearing. Some are even tranquilised, as the Cook Report found in South Africa when it brought this ghastly trade to public attention in 1997.
After the programme, the Mandela government outlawed the practice, but this enlightened change in the law was successfully challenged under succeeding administrations by the influential Predator Breeders Association – and is now both legal and flourishing. There are fewer than 3000 lions left in the ’wild’ in South Africa, but more than 8,000 in captivity, being bred – like grouse – exclusively to be shot. What’s more, some of the volunteers who have paid to help raise them have been deliberately misled into believing that they are helping conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is a multi-million pound industry, founded on cruelty and fuelled by money. It is certainly not a sport. The South African Government needs to be persuaded to close it down, once and for all. By marching today you are helping to achieve that aim. I wish I could have been with you.”
Roger Cook, 2nd March 2014.
We wish you a speedy recovery Roger and we thank you for being the first to expose the sordid canned hunting industry to the world. We look forward to continuing what Roger started, on the 15th March 2014 with a hugely successful Global March for Lions!
Picture credit: Roger Cook
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