THEY are seen as hugely powerful animals – but thousands of lions are being held captive in South Africa.
Thousands of miles away here in the UK, hundreds of protestors will be gathering in March to demonstrate against the practice of canned hunting.
Paul Tully, 33, from Gloucester, has helped organise the Global March For Lions, which is due to take place on March 15 in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
He said: “Our focus is to stop canned hunting.
“Lions are often kept against their will, so they can be bred.”
Canned hunting is where the target animal is unfairly prevented from escaping the hunter, either by physical constraints such as fencing or by mental constraints, because they are tame and used to humans.
Paul said: “This often happens in South Africa.”
There are fewer than 4,000 lions left in the wild in South Africa.
However more than 8,000 are in captivity, being bred for the bullet or the arrow.
Lion farming is a real threat to wild lion prides, for many reasons, Paul said.
The ongoing capture of wild lions to introduce fresh blood into captive breeding, and the growth of the lion bone trade to Asia is likely to impact severely on wild populations.
Paul said: “Marches across the world will be taking place, including Sydney, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
“More than a hundred people have signed up to the march in London.
“All funds raised will go towards the Canned Lion charity set up and run by Chris Mercer and Beverley Pervan.”
They funded the campaign out of their own savings for many years, until January 2007 when Chris was awarded the Marchig Trust Animal Award for 2006.
The Marchig award is given annually to an organisation deemed to have excelled in animal welfare.
However Chris and Beverley still rely heavily on donations and contributions from private individuals and other organisations to continue their work.
Paul, who is a retail manager and photographer, said: “My interest in nature and animals has stemmed from Dian Fossey, who is an American zoologist.
“She studied gorilla groups and I was fascinated by her work.
“We currently have Lion Aid on board supporting us in this march.”
For more information, visit www.cannedlion.org or to take part or sponsor the march email, globalmarch email@example.com.