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Rallies in South Africa to save lions from 'canned hunting'

CAPE TOWN--Wildlife campaigners joined rallies around South Africa Saturday in an international push to protect the lion and save the king of beasts from being raised in cages for “canned hunting.”

In Cape Town, South African archbishop and Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu gave his support to the rally with a prayer read by his daughter Mpho, calling for success in “saving all wildlife, but especially in this instance white lions.”

“Save the lion” rallies are set to be held in cities around the world, but the focus is on South Africa, where the hunting of lions raised in captivity is lucrative business.

Canned hunting involves releasing the lions into a confined area with no escape, and then allowing hunters to take home a lion head or skin as a memento from their kill.

“I don't believe in canned hunting. It shouldn't be hunting for trophies,” said Madeleine Goetsch, 54, who joined around 3,000 people at a march in Johannesburg.

“There is a place for regular hunting but certainly not for near extinct species,” she said.

One of the rally organizers, Drew Abrahamson, 43, a conservationist who works in tourism, told AFP that the process of canned hunting starts when cubs are taken away from their mothers to be tamed and allow tourists to pet them.

“Then when they become too dangerous, they enable them to grow, especially the males, and they release the mature males for the hunters,” she explained.

“They can shoot at close range as the lions are tamed.”

Hunting for wild animals is a big tourism draw in South Africa bringing in US$115 million in 2012, according to a study.

A foreign hunter pays more than US$3,000 a day for the hunting, which requires a special permit, it said, with part of the fee slated for preservation.

The foreign hunters are mainly rich Americans (55 percent) and Europeans (40 percent), especially Germans, French, Poles and Finns.

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