Thursday, December 07, 2006

Animal Planet promoting canned hunting?

Animal Planet has come under criticism in South Africa for promoting canned
hunting as "conservation. According to Chris Mercer of "Campaign against
Canned Hunting," Animal Planet has "not done its homework" and is promoting
hunting reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park as conservation

Wilderness, South Africa (_PRWEB_ ( ) December 6, 2006
-- Animal Planet has come under criticism from animal rights activists in
South Africa for promoting canned hunting as "conservation." Wildlife author
Chris Mercer, spokesman for "Campaign against Canned Hunting," says the Animal
Planet has "not done its homework" and is inaccurately promoting hunting
reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park as conservation organizations. At
issue is the recently aired program, "White Lions: King of Kings." According
to Mercer, the broadcast features Timbavati, one of the hunting conservancies
on the western border of Kruger National Park in South Africa, and
erroneously portrays the organization as a haven for wildlife, when, in fact,
lions are shot by hunters who pay a premium for the opportunity. In addition,
Mercer says, the Association of Private Nature Preserves (APNR), of which
Timbavati is a member, has been allowed by South African Conservation
to take down fences, so that protected Kruger Park animals can lose their
protection and roam freely into the APNR.

Mercer says that the White Lions program on Animal Planet has done
"incalculable harm, not only to the 3,500 lions caught up in the dreadful South
African canned hunting business, but also to animal welfare generally."

Mercer's claims are supported by a May 2006 edition of the Cape Argus Press,
as well as coverage in other South African newspapers. There was national
concern and extensive press coverage of the killing in the APNR of one of the
"Sohebele Brothers," a pair of tourist-habituated lions, and the Cape Argus
article mentioned the killing of another lion in Timbavati, where the hunter
shot the wrong animal out of a pride. Mercer says, "This is not conservation.
Rather, it is the asset stripping of our wildlife heritage."

The Animal Planet program features Marius Prinsloo, a lion breeder, who is
portrayed as a conservationist doing work to preserve the white lion gene. The
Campaign against Canned Hunting released photographs of three captive lions
downloaded from Prinsloo's website, where he advertises the hunting price
for each lion.

Captive lions are often baited, darted and captured in the wild. Breeders
then keep the captive lions in "factory farm" conditions. The lioness is
usually driven out of her cage shortly after giving birth so that she can come
into estrus and start breeding again. Mercer charges that the mother's
at being separated from her cubs is callously ignored." Sometimes cubs are
rented out to tourist resorts as part of a petting zoo. When the cubs are six
months old and too boisterous for tourists they go back to their cages. Tame,
hand-reared lions and lionesses are turned out into fenced enclosures to
provide targets for hunters from Europe and the U.S.A.

Mercer is appealing for support from USA animal rights organizations to
persuade Animal Planet to drop the White Lions program. "If hunting is accepted
as conservation, then so is whaling, seal clubbing, and fur-farming," he says.

Chris Mercer co-founded and helped to manage a wildlife rehabilitation
center in the Kalahari for seven years before establishing the Campaign against
Canned Hunting in South Africa. He was recently awarded the prestigious
Marchig Trust Award for Animal Welfare for 2006.

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