March 16, 2016

Lion

The Story

Blood Lions follows acclaimed environmental journalist and safari operator Ian Michler, and Rick Swazey, an American hunter, on their journey to uncover the realities about the multi-million dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa.

It is a story that blows the lid off claims made by these operators in attempting to justify what they do. Last year alone over 800 captive lions were shot in South Africa, mostly by wealthy international hunters under conditions that are anything but sporting.

Ian has been following this story since 1999, and he goes onto the breeding farms to witness the impacts that decades of intensive breeding is having on the captive lions and other predators.

Aggressive farmers and most within the professional hunting community resent his questioning, but the highly profitable commercialization of lions is plain to see – cub petting, volunteer recruitment, lion walking, canned hunting, trading and the new lion bone trade are on the increase. And all are being justified under the guise of conservation, research and education. 

The Back Story

About four years ago Pippa Hankinson visited a private lion breeding farm for the first time where she found approximately 80 lions in small enclosures, many visibly inbred and clearly stressed. She was deeply disturbed by her experience.

Determined to find out more, she learnt that there were between 6000 and 8000 lions living in similar conditions on other breeding farms around South Africa – part of a multimillion-dollar industry – where the majority are sold into the captive/canned lion hunting industry or to Asia to supplement the “tiger bone” trade. Most shocking of all was not only that the industry was legal, but how few people seemed to know anything about it.

She often quotes Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Animals have always mattered a great deal to Pippa, but Africa’s wildlife and particularly lions, are very close to her heart.

A documentary seemed the most effective way to raise awareness around the exploitation of these captive-bred lions, but never having made a film before, Pippa set about gathering a proficient and committed team of professionals around her. Along with the extraordinary generosity and support of individuals and organisations from around the world, they helped her make this film. 

Luke Dollar

Luke Dollar

Ian Michler

Ian Michler

EFF

The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital is the world’s premier showcase of environmentally themed films. Through our annual festival, year-round events, and online resources, we seek to advance public understanding of the environment through the power of film. Each March in Washington, DC, we host the largest environmental film festival in the United States, presenting more than 100 films to an audience of over 30,000. Often combined with thematic discussions and social events, our films screen at museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters. Many of the screenings are free, and all are open to the public. EFF also partners with filmmakers, distributors, and venues to present environmental films throughout the year. Our Washington, DC location offers the unique ability for films and filmmakers to reach national decision makers. Founded in 1993, EFF is the longest-running environmental film festival in the United States. It has grown into a major collaborative cultural event both during the festival season and all year-round.