More Than 100 Neglected Lions Found at Abandoned South African Facility

The world was shocked after the story of neglected lions in South Africa broke. Many people would agree that this is one of the most disturbing cases of animal neglect.

More than 100 lions and other animals were found in an abandoned facility in the North West province. The animals were sick, overcrowded and some of them were really close to death.

National Geographic explained that the world found out about this shocking story after an anonymous tipser leaked the information to a journalist who contacted the National Council for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA). This organization enforces South Africa’s animal welfare legislation.

Inspectors arrived at the spot at Pienika Farm. The scene was shocking. There were 27 lions with mange, a skin condition caused by parasitic mites. Can you believe that the lions had lost their fur? They thrived in dirty, overcrowded areas. An enclosure for two contained thirty lions.

At least three cubs had meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that leaves animals unable to walk. One of the cubs had to be euthanized at the facility.

Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCA wildlife protection unit, inspected the farm and couldn’t find words to describe the scene. He felt hollow after seeing the king of the jungle in such condition.

This isn’t the first story of its kind. In 2015, the documentary Blood Lions revealed that 6,000-8,000 predators thrive in captive-breeding facilities in South Africa. Ian Michler was the documentary’s protagonist and narrator, and he claims there are more than 10,000 similar cases now.

Have you ever heard about South Africa’s captive lion industry? It confirms that animals live in terrible living conditions.

These facilities exist for tourism purposes, and tourists are able to pet, bottle-feed and take photos with lion cubs. They even walk past mature lions. Michler also explained that most lions are killed by trophy hunters who had arrived all the way from the United States.

Michler believes that the Pienika Farm’s lions are kept for the lion bone trade. According to the report of National Geographic, these bones are alternative to tiger bones used for traditional medicine in Asia. Lions are usually healthy, but many of them are neglected.

Michler went on explaining that lions bred for the lion bone trade don’t even have to look pretty or have that majestic fur. At the end of the day, they end up in a bag full of bones.

Courts will now have to make a decision upon the accused, and Michler didn’t leave much room for optimism. He isn’t convinced that the lion bone trade will ever end. Lions aren’t given any rights, and we can’t even hear their roar.

The surviving lions still thrive in the same facility, and their life depends on the investigation and the court ruling. Humane Society’s Delsing reveals that things are really uncertain.

These lions can’t be released into the wild, because they are used to captivity. South Africa can’t provide enough reputable sanctuaries to take care of the poor animals.

Delsing says that the lions’ future looks bad, and the cats don’t really enjoy much opportunities. There are so many similar cases. Hopefully, authorities will stop the disturbing practice.