The vast majority of the petted cubs end up in the canned hunting industry as trophy of poachers. Reserves offering the opportunity to pet lion cubs are pretty popular. Tourists enjoying this special relationship assume that by paying entrance fees they contribute to wild life conservation. They are told that lions will be admitted by zoos once reaching adulthood, which is definitely not the case.
Breeding farms are operated to provide the cub supply of this lucrative sector. The hand-raised animals can not let back into the wild later, although they are not tame either. While interacting with humans, many of the cubs are overworked and get irritable by being poked. After becoming 6 months old, they become too dangerous for close interaction. The next stage in their carrier is the ‘walking with lions’ activity, which lasts until the age of 20 months. From this point the facilities can not draw anymore profit from keeping these creatures. Either they are put in over-crowded enclosures or sold to dealers and hunting farms.
Some wealthy people, bound to have serious personality disorders, flight to Africa from all around the world to shoot a lion in a hunting facility. They pay a fortune to get a specimen of this iconic species as some kind of power projection. Actually this pseudo-chase happens on a rather limited territory and it targets hand-raised lions, which makes this battle far from fair play. It ofter happens that the prey itself deliberetly approaches the hunters.
The prospects of wild lions are also gloomy as they occupy less than 20% of the former range due to massive habitat loss. Their current population is estimated to 20thd, which is a significant drop from 300thd as of 1960’. This rate of decline must be stopped in order to prevent wild lions from extinction.
More information: http://www.lionwhisperer.co.za/