There is no legal definition of what a canned hunt is. A key element is the lack of a “fair chase”.
We like the following explanation, which we found on www.cannedlion.org: Canned hunting is where the target animal is unfairly prevented from escaping the hunter, either by physical constraints (fencing) or by mental constraints (tame, habituated to humans.)
A canned hunt involves the hunting of exotic animals on hunting ranches or confined enclosures that breed or buy the animals so that people can pay to have a guarantee kill. Big cats that were privately owned or tamed at zoos are often easy targets during canned hunts because the cats are used to being around people and won’t run away when a hunter walks up to them. Often cubs are bred for commercial uses and then once they reach adulthood, they are sold off and end up in canned hunts. Even worse, there are breeding farms who breed big cats specifically for this purpose.
Canned hunting is a big business in South Africa. Tourists, including many Americans, go to South Africa specifically for canned hunts where they shoot and kill tamed lions in their enclosures. The hunters walk away with their trophy and the majestic creatures lose their lives for sport. It is estimated there are about 8,000 lions in captivity for the purpose of canned hunts in South Africa. These breeding farms are a threat to wild lion prides because the breeders capture wild lions to introduce new genes and prevent inbreeding in the breeding farms.
Some argue that canned hunting with tame lions helps protect the wild lion population from being hunted. This statement assumes that every hunter that participates in a canned hunt would go out and hunt a wild lion if canned hunts did not exist. There is usually a different mindset between a hunter that participates in a canned hunt for a trophy verse a hunter that goes out in the wild to hunt a trophy. A hunter that goes out in the wild to hunt often would never consider a canned hunt because of the lack of a fair chase. A canned hunter wants an easy, guaranteed kill. Canned hunting actually hurts wild lion populations because the breeding farms capture wild lions to introduce new genes and prevent inbreeding. If cubs are desired by the breeding farms, they often have to kill the adult members of the pride in order to capture the cubs. This can damage and destroy entire prides.
Unfortunately, American are largely to blame for the demand in this industry. According to the IFAW, almost two thirds of all lions killed as trophies in South Africa are exported to the United States. So how can we stop this? The African Lion is currently not listed under the Endangered Species Act, the only big cat that is not. If it gets listed, then that would ban dead trophy lions from being imported into the U.S. And that would send a message to the world. You can sign the petition here.
If we can educate people and reduce the demand coming from the U.S. then we can help to end this industry!