LONDON, June 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lord Ashcroft makes a series of sensational revelations in his new book Unfair Game: An exposé of South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry, to be published on Tuesday, June 16 2020.
The book highlights the appalling cruelty – and often illegal practices – associated with the multi-million pound business of lion farming, in which Africa’s most iconic animal is bred either for its bones or to become the target for trophy hunters in so-called canned hunts.
In fact these ‘hunts’ involve a lion, often semi-tame and drugged, being shot in a restricted area from which it has no chance of escape.
Lord Ashcroft, an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster, used undercover operatives, including former members of the Special Forces, to infiltrate this sordid industry. There are now an estimated 12,000 captive-bred lions in South Africa, four times the number of wild lions.
Revelations from two separate undercover operations over two years – codenamed "Operation Simba" and "Operation Chastise" – include:
- A warning from experts that lion farming and the lion bone trade are likely to lead another major public health incident, possibly even another coronavirus-style pandemic.
- A gruesome video showing two hunting lodge owners callously shooting a lioness in a tree. The animal is then shot another nine times in seven minutes as she lies dying in agony on the ground.
- Proof wild lion cubs are being caught in Botswana to increase the gene pool of South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry. This blows a hole in the claims of lion farmers that their business promotes conservation.
- A senior South African police chief rejecting the dossier of evidence from Lord Ashcroft’s second investigation and threatening to arrest the leading undercover operative.
- Evidence of a captive-bred lion being hunted and killed illegally using a pack of dogs; and evidence of a British hunter paying to take part in an illegal "green hunt" in which a lion was shot with tranquiliser darts.
- Lions being kept in disgusting conditions at a farm in Free State Province before 54 were slaughtered in just two days.
- Farmers crossing tigers and lions to create "ligers" – freaks of nature which grow at an accelerated rate to generate bigger profits.
- The rescue of an adult male lion, "Simba", from certain death at the hands of trophy hunters. Lord Ashcroft has now housed him in a secure location where he will live happily for the rest of his days.
Lord Ashcroft is campaigning vigorously for captive-bred lion farming to be banned in South Africa. He said: "Lion farming shames South Africa, a country that I have loved visiting for many years. It’s time to recognise that it is a cruel and barbaric industry which has no place in the 21st century."
Lord Ashcroft also believes the UK Government must follow the lead of other countries, including the US, in banning the importation of captive-bred lion trophies and the trophies of other endangered species. He said: "The British Government can’t control what takes place within South Africa’s own borders but it can show our opposition to lion farming. We must not be complicit in any way with this vile practice."
Lion bones are in high demand in the Far East, particularly China and Vietnam, where they are – wrongly – believed to have medicinal qualities and to act as an aphrodisiac. A single lion carcass can fetch thousands of pounds and the bones from lions are often made into ‘cake’ or wine.
Similarly, a captive-bred adult male lion with an impressive mane can command up to £40,000 from trophy hunters wanting to shoot it in a canned hunt.
The full story of the two dangerous undercover investigations and their findings is told in Lord Ashcroft’s new book ‘Unfair Game’ to be published on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Lord Ashcroft is donating all royalties from the book to wildlife charities in South Africa.
- "Unfair Game: An exposé of South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry", by Michael Ashcroft, is published tomorrow [June 16] by Biteback.
- Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information on his general work, visit: www.lordashcroft.com. For more information on his wildlife work, visit: www.lordashcroftwildlife.com. Follow him on Twitter and/or Facebook @LordAshcroft.
- This press release is accompanied by a Dropbox link to photographs. There is no fee for their use but their copyright belongs to Lord Ashcroft. Please credit him for the use of any photographs.
- Those wanting to view a short film, linked to the new book and presented by Lord Ashcroft, should visit www.lordashcroftwildlife.com or YouTube.
- Extended film footage – that some will find distressing – from the undercover investigation can be viewed in a protected section of www.lordashcroftwildlife.com. To access this area, click www.lordashcroftwildlife.com/restricted and enter your date of birth.
- Anyone wanting further information on the book or its author should contact Angela Entwistle, Lord Ashcroft’s Corporate Communications Director, on +44 (0)7802 264769, +44(0)20-7248-6700 or by email: [email protected].