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Undercover video finds trophy-hunting convention vendors selling captive-bred lion hunts

An advocacy group on Wednesday released an undercover video revealing vendors at a trophy-hunting convention selling captive-bred lions to be killed for trophies, even though the convention had previously vowed they wouldn’t be sold.

The Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society International conducted an investigation at the Safari Club International (SCI) convention in Reno, Nev., last week and discovered that “canned” lion hunts were still for sale. SCI had announced in 2018 it was banning those hunts.  

But video of the convention shows vendors offering the captive lions for sale. The lions are raised in cages and small pens before being put in a larger fenced area. Once the lion reaches young adulthood, customers pay to shoot them and keep trophies, including the skin, skull, claws and other body parts.

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“They’re bred in captivity, they’re born in captivity, and then they’re released,” a salesman for Bush Africa Safaris, a South African tour operator, said in the video. “There’s guys who are going to tell you something different on the floor, they’re going to bullshit you, that is what it is.”

Two other salesmen on the video confirmed they were offering captive-bred lions.

Bush Africa Safaris said in a statement that it does not market captive-bred lions in the U.S. The statement said booth operative in the video was discussing wild and wild-managed lions and was showing hunts involving captive-bred lions taken before the ban more than four years ago, it said.

“My operative has been setup with very selective questioning, and also very selective footage on answers that was given to the reporters,” the statement reads. “I once again state that we do not market, or partake, or have for the past 4 years, offer the hunt of captive bred Lions in SA to US citizens.”

Kitty Block, the president and CEO of the Humane Society in the U.S., condemned SCI, which is one of the largest trophy-hunting conventions in the nation.

“This convention does nothing other than celebrate senseless violence towards wildlife,” she said in a statement. “Wild animals are not commodities to be sold, with their deaths something to celebrate. This needs to end.”

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In a Wednesday statement obtained by The Hill, SCI said it will continue to ban vendors selling canned lion hunts from the convention and from advertising with the organization.

“Safari Club International (SCI) proudly supports the right to hunt; however, SCI does not condone the practice of canned hunting by our members, outfitters, or other partners,” the group said in the statement. “As sportsmen, we believe hunting is best enjoyed when certain fair chase criteria are met.”

The Humane Society also uncovered a video of canned hunts being sold last year at the convention, prompting SCI to issue another statement promising not to accept advertising from operators selling these hunts or allow them to sell at the convention in the future. 

President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke at the SCI convention last weekend, and SCI auctioned off an Alaskan “dream hunt” with the president’s son for $340,000.

Updated at 4:28 p.m.

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