South Africa selling tiger and lion hunts to Chinese nouveau riche

Tigers, leopards, lions, elephants and rhinos were among the many species of wild animals on offer by South African hunting outfitters at the first-ever Chinese hunting show in Shanghai last weekend.

Critically endangered tigers, considered to be ‘functionally extinct’ in China, are now offered by several South African hunting businesses.

Since tigers are primarily defined as an exotic species in South Africa, the captive breeding, trading and hunting of this CITES Appendix I species is unregulated, with an estimated 60 mostly unlicensed tiger breeders, including several backyard breeders in Gauteng.

Inkulu African Safaris in the Eastern Cape advertised black rhino hunt for between Euro 500,000 and one million at the China Hunting Show, Imberba Rakia in Limpopo offered tiger hunts (prices on request only), and Clayton Fletcher from Tinashe had a 7-day ‘cat in the bag’ hunting package, including lion, oryx, blue wildebeest, zebra, springbok, and warthog, for US$22,000.

Tinashe Outftters selling canned lion hunts at the 2019 China Hunting Show in Shanghai

Firearm ownership in China is heavily regulated making it nearly impossible for individuals to possess a rifle and legal hunting grounds are limited, so the burgeoning elite with little shooting experience travel abroad to indulge in their new-found hobby. 

Lack of hunting expertise does not seem to be as an issue for the South African hunting outfitters represented at the show over the weekend. Fletcher of Tinashe Outfitters for example guarantees to make any Chinese hunter competent to shoot within a 2-day period.

The booming Chinese economy has created an extensive, affluent middle-class of 400 million people with a third already travelling outside China, according to the China Hunting Show website.

In search of new markets, South African hunting businesses now offer a myriad of African wildlife to these nouveau riche Chinese citizens and lions are still one of the top choices.

As South Africa only issues about a dozen wild lion permits per year, the tawny and white lions adorning the exhibition brochures are most likely captive bred.

Don’t let the wide, open space of these game farms fool you. These lions are not hunted in the wild, but in an enclosed area with no escape.

Smaragda Louw (Ban Animal Trading South Africa), who visited the show.

Tinashe Outfitters located in the NW province for instance can legally offer hunting of a captive bred lion a mere four days after its release from captivity. The shortest release time in any province in South Africa with no restrictions on the minimum camp size.

Are these would-be hunters aware that most of these lions will be captive bred and habituated to humans through unscrupulous activities, such as cub petting?

As expected, many visitors attending the China Hunting Show over the weekend were completely unfamiliar with the concept of trophy hunting, let alone “canned” hunting. However, “by the end of the day, cash was changing hands as first-time hunters began planning their first overseas hunting trips”, stated show officials on social media.

This article is written with support of Conservation Action Trust and appeared among others on The South African, SA Breaking News and eTurboNews.


  • Dear Louis

    Im sorry but your article is inaccurate. Canned hunting takes place in private game reserves owned by wealthy white farmers. Nowhere in your article do you clarify this.

    Government of SA and ordi ary SAna are not party to these transactions in any way.

    I always enjoy reading your articles by the way.



    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    • You are correct Fiki that canned hunting happens on private game farms and only a very small group of people is involved in this industry. Although the canned hunting is on private land, the SA government enables this industry and has allowed the captive lion breeding industry to flourish unregulated into what is now a very ugly beast. Sadly, that is reflecting badly on SA as a country and as a tourism brand. Hunting in national parks is fortunately not allowed in South Africa.

      Some of the stories posted on my blog, like this one, were published as media stories with serious word limits, so I can’t always clarify everything in the article. However, feel free to comment and ask questions at any time and I am happy to elaborate.

      I am glad you enjoy reading my stories – always nice to hear 🙂

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