The British government has been urged to outlaw the importing of captive lion trophies, after a private investigation of lion farming in South Africa. "The captive-bred lion industry shames South Africa—indeed it shames us all," Michael Ashcroft wrote in the Daily Mail as he announced his lobbying effort. Ashcroft is a billionaire who once was deputy chairman of the Conservative Party; he stepped down from the House of Lords in 2015, per Forbes. He says his year-long investigation found lions are being bred on a large scale in South Africa, then killed and used in "medicine" or as trinkets in the Far East, Sky News reports. Trophy hunters pay to shoot the captive animals so they can be photographed with them and take the skin, Ashcroft says.
Ashcroft's investigation followed someone who paid nearly $4,000 for a lion named Simba to be released into a compound, intending to shoot it and be photographed with it. Ashcroft says his team instead rescued the lion and released it into the wild, per Sky News. He said his investigation also found lions and tigers being cross-bred to create bigger animals that bring more from hunters. In addition to lobbying his own country for change, Ashcroft said he will send his findings to the South African government. The "barbaric practice," he wrote, "is harming the reputation of a country that treasures its position on the international stage in the aftermath of apartheid." (Read more lions stories.)