IUCN – Terminating the hunting of captive-bred lions
28 April 2016

Terminating the hunting of captive-bred lions (Panthera leo) and other predators and captive breeding for commercial, non-conservation purposes

NOTING the prohibition by the South African Government on the capture of wild lions for breeding or keeping in captivity;

CONCERNED that the continued breeding of lions for the specific purpose of hunting by sectors of the hunting industry in South Africa under the guise of sustainably utilisation has escalated;

FURTHER CONCERNED by the lack of action by the South African Government to terminate ‘canned hunting’,

AWARE that lion hunts are conducted in enclosed areas or using captive lions;

MINDFUL that professional hunting associations within South Africa and internationally oppose the practice known as ‘canned hunting’, where the animal is physically unable to escape from a restricted enclosure and/or is captive bred and mentally disinclined to escape due to humanisation as a result of hand-rearing, petting of young animals and close human contact in captive facilities;

NOTING that the great majority of hunters regard ‘canned hunting’ as an ethically repugnant embarrassment;

CONSIDERING that most South African captive lion breeding facilities do not conform to or comply with the standards of the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) or the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA);

ACCEPTING the value of wildlife and wildlife ranching as a resource that may be utilised in a sustainable, legal and ethical manner, and which is of extreme importance for biodiversity conservation, tourism, and the gross domestic product of tourist destinations;

UNDERSTANDING that sustainable, legal and ethical hunting is a human activity, which generates income and supports human livelihoods in areas where other farming practices are less viable;

UNDERSTANDING that the threats to wild lions include: habitat fragmentation, lack of suitable habitat, human-carnivore conflict, snaring and poisoning; and

ACKNOWLEDGING that captive breeding of lions has not been identified as a conservation action in any African lion conservation planning programme;

The World Conservation Congress, at its session in Hawai‘i, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016:

1. REQUESTS the Director General and IUCN Commissions to encourage specifically the South African Government, as well as all other southern African Governments, to support this initiative by drafting and enacting legislation by 2020 and giving reasonable time frames to:

a. terminate the practice of breeding lions in captivity for the purpose of ‘canned hunting’ through a structured, time-bound process;

b. restrict captive breeding of lions to registered zoos or registered facilities whose documented mandate is as a recognised, registered conservation project;

c. develop norms and standards for the management of captive-bred lions in South Africa that address welfare, biodiversity and utilisation aspects, taking into account Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) regulations, legislation and IUCN guidelines governing this activity; and

d. legally prohibit the hunting of captive-bred lions under any conditions; and

2. REQUESTS the Director General and IUCN Commissions to:

a. take the necessary actions to provide the guidance, leadership, support and international lobbying that may be required by the South African Government to enact this Resolution; and

b. to encourage and provide support for other Member States in southern Africa to follow this initiative.

Explanatory Memorandum

Over 200 lion farms exist in South Africa, of which about 5 per cent are registered with the South African Predator Breeders Association. Conditions of breeding and captivity are known to vary considerably but few, if any, comply with standards set by the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) or the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA). Since the capture of wild lions for keeping or breeding in captivity has been prohibited for several years, a genetic paucity exists in the captive population, which is humanised and disinclined to escape when ‘released’ to be shot in enclosed areas. Professional hunting associations are on record as distancing themselves from a practice described as unethical. The motion seeks to establish a time-bound process to terminate breeding of lions in captivity for non-conservation, commercial purposes; and congruently to terminate the hunting of such captive-bred lions.


  • Endangered Wildlife Trust ( South Africa )
  • Game Rangers Association of Africa ( South Africa )
  • National Association of Conservancies of South Africa ( South Africa )
  • ResourceAfrica South Africa ( South Africa )
  • Southern African Wildlife College ( South Africa )
  • Wilderness Foundation ( South Africa )
  • Wildlands Conservation Trust ( South Africa )

Original report : https://portals.iucn.org/congress/motion/009