London, June 13 (ANI): The controversial sport of "canned hunting", in which trophy hunter tourists pay to shoot specially bred captive lions, has been banned in South Africa.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the South African government welcomed the move, which followed attempts by lion breeders to block the banning of their trade.
"We need a clean hunting industry, free from unacceptable behaviour which could damage the country's image," said Albi Modise, a spokesman for South Africa's forestry department.ntil its ban, South Africa was one of the world's canned hunting capitals, with more than 1,000 lions killed every year by foreign hunters.
Around 120 lion breeders are active in the country, supplying animals for tourists arriving from across the globe in an industry worth almost 1 million pounds a year.
But, government proposals put forward in 2007 threatened to crush the industry by ruling that lions bred in captivity could not be hunted until 24 months after they were released into the wild.
Angry breeders challenged the crackdown in court and argued that the regulations should allow captive animals to be shot within a few days of being released from their breeding cages.
But, on June 12, Bloemfontein High Court judge Ian van der Merwe rejected their claim.
Delivering his verdict, he said biodiversity must be protected and that the breeding of lions in captivity with the sole purpose of canned hunting did not aid their protection.
He added that he believed the breeders only cared about making money.
Animal welfare groups have welcomed the judgement.
According to Animal Rights Africa spokesman Steve Smit, "Canned hunting is barbaric and South Africa has been shamed by it. We now hope the government provides adequate provision to insure the new rules are followed."
The lion breeders have now threatened to sue the government over the decision. (ANI)