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Lion Rescue from Breeding / Canned Hunting Farms

Combatting Wildlife Trafficking in Turkey
Pangolin Rescue. Wet-markets and Pandemics.
A canned hunt is a trophy hunt which is not a “fair chase”; it has been made too easy for the hunter. In some examples, animals have been kept in confined area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill. In most cases the lions are kept in tiny enclosures, are confined to horrible places, with limited or no food, extreme stress and with no hygienic and veterinarian care. A “hunter” can then choose the lion he wants to kill and conduct the killings in the easiest way, sometimes sitting from his vehicle. Animals do not stand a chance. Such facilities even put male lions in small enclosures for them to fight each other, so lions can have scars on their faces and the trophy can seem to come from a total wild lion. 
Canned hunting is a fast-growing business in South Africa, where thousands of lions are being bred on more than 160 farms to be shot by wealthy foreign trophy-hunters. There are now more captive lions (upwards of 7,000) in the country than wild ones (about 2,000).
Wild at Life e.V. Is dedicated to continue to campaign and work against the blood industry, ban canned hunting and rescue such lions from such facilities. 
During November 2019, our team has reached South Africa to rescue 22 lions from one of these farms. 
The team was overwhelmed seeing 10 lions kept in a totally secluded and closed shed with no light or grass.
We had to fight hard for the lives of these lions. But dedication and passion made this work successful. For this rescue a total of 5000km has been done on road, 9.5 hours was spent to take 10 lions out of the shed, paperwork with the Ministry for import and export was issued with a lot of pressure from us, and we finally got a day set for the big day. 
The team was ready to rescue first the 10 lions kept in the shed. Entering and darting was a big problem as the building had only one door and no other entrance. We have decided to drive in with the team and dart the animals inside. Wild at Life was in with the local team.
And darting has begun. Was an extra load of work and took a long time to calm the lions after each darting. These lions had no access to outside nor any light and grass, so their stress levels were much higher than usual. We were committed to take them out! So we did… one by one!
We worked non stop to move the lions to the transport trailer, which we drove back to the sanctuary, where they will learn to be lions again. 

On our way out we met a lonely lion. His mane was small, his tail was crooked and he was not handsome enough to be sold as a trophy lion. He was lion number 22 in the registry and was likely to be sold for his bone as part of  the Asian bone trade for  local medicine. We named him Georges and promised to come back for him.

Our successful rescue was subsequently published in many media coverages, articles and was also featured on, The Dodo.

Mission 2 - GEORGES — A Lion's Tale

During Mission 1, Wild at Life e.V. successfully rescued 10 lions destined for the bullet in South Africa.  Whilst leaving we noticed a lonely lion with a crooked tail, Georges. We vowed to come back to rescue him before he too ended up as a trophy hunt and later his bones sent to Asia to be used in traditional but ‘bogus’ Medicines.

After the successful campaign to take the vital support, we needed to rescue Georges, we found ourselves in the midst of the global pandemic Covid-19 and our team could not travel to take him to safety. On top of the Covid situation, the Sanctuary he was going to did not make the necessary plans to rescue him on their end. So, we found a new ethical placement for him. Whilst preparing Georges Permits, we became aware of 3 more lioness in dire need. Wild at Life decided to rescue them all, leaving no one behind. 

We have successfully rescued Georges, Julie, Eva and Elma from a horrific lion farm in South Africa.

On Summer of 2021, our expert team lead by Wild at Life Founder, Asli Han Gedik arrived into South Africa to rescue Georges, Julie, Eva and Elma.

Watch the full rescue video:

Lonesome and lugubrious Georges lived day in – day out – inside a barren enclosure for 4 long painful years. The only company he had, was a cement ring that would offer some protection against the South African heat whilst he awaited his imminent slaughter.

The lion farmers were waiting for his mane to grow so he would look handsome enough for someone to pay up to an estimated sum of £10,000 to shoot him in an enclosed area from which there was no escape.

But Georges was born with a fault; his tail was crooked and he was therefore discarded as a future trophy’s, instead he was to be slaughtered just for his bones!

The lion bone trade is a lucrative and legal stream for farmers in South Africa and has come about as an alternative to tiger bones for use in Traditional but Bogus Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a burgeoning component to wildlife trade and in the year 2018, the DEA awarded a quota of 1 500 lion carcasses for export a year!

On the morning of the Rescue  —  as dawn-broke — Wild at Life and their Veterinarian entered the Lion farm, they then successfully darted (Sedated) Georges, Eva, Elma and Julie inside their stark enclosures.

Once sedated, the lions were all then carefully lifted out one-by-one by our team of six and placed onto their waiting transport.

After a morning of strenuous work, our expert team and veterinarian had managed to successfully place all lions into their transport for the journey ahead to freedom.

Our big Cat veterinarian proceeded to reverse the sedative and gave an immune booster too.

The team then took two trailer; a 5-hour drive. One trailer held Georges and Julie, the other one driving, Lionesses Elma and Eva.


We made frequent stops on roadside to check up on their well-being.

They all slept nicely.

Finally arriving at the Sanctuary, Julie was the first out of the trailer.

Julie is first to explore —

Julie leaving the trailer – 

The first thing she did was to climb a tree – something she had never touched before.

The pride’s new sanctuary features plenty of features that would be found in their natural habitat, tall grass to relax in and an array of Acacia, Jackalberry and Marula trees to offer shade and enrichment.  As lions possess interdigital glands, they are use the trees to transmit a scent when flexing their toes, which aids in territorial marking and other types of olfactory messaging to one another.

Georges, Julie, Elma and Eva will now live as part of a pride for the first time in their lives free from the threat of a bullet.

Georges, Eva, Elma and Julie symbols of hope in the campaign against lion farming.

There are currently around 7,000 captive lions held in horrendous lion farms across South Africa right now, they are all constantly bred until the day they will be shot for a trophy.

We do not breed our rescued lions, because we know doing so contributes to the problem that we trying to solve.

The lions that we rescue from these notorious farms, can never live in the wild, they would not survive. It also takes up valuable space that could be occupied by another rescued animal and depletes our already limited resources to rescue others in need.

George, Eva, Elma and Julie are symbols of hope in our campaign against canned lion farms.

Four more lions saved, we will continue until there is no-more lions left in horrific farms to save.

George’s Story:

Just a few weeks after our second mission, the South African government released landmark plans to ban captive lion facilities and halt the commercial use of captive lions and their derivatives. With between 7,000 and 12,000 lions in captivity in South Africa, typically being bred for canned hunting, this decision is sending absolute shock waves through the country. This is exactly what we have campaigned for many years and we now see the positive results! There’s mounting evidence that suggests captive breeding does not contribute to wild lion conservation, negatively impacts ecotourism and the wild hunting industry, and even stimulates demand for lion parts for the illegal wildlife trade. Not to mention the ethics of keeping lions in often terrible conditions, canned hunting, and misleading tourists into contributing to this!

Could there be negatives? Yes, potentially. There is reported evidence on a growing demand for lion bones in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. As South Africa’s captive bred lions provided a supply of lion bone, this demand won’t disappear — so will it affect wild lions? Will we see a dramatic increase in big cat poaching? It is possible, and the price of lion bone could also potentially increase as the trade is pushed further underground. Only time will tell but we will continue to protect these predators.
Our work isn’t over yet. Many still wait for help and we can’t do this without you.

Please support Wild at Life so the vital projects can be successfully implemented.

Together we can do this! 

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Adopt one of our rescued lions

Thank you for believing in us.

Asli Han Gedik

Wild at Life e.V.


Our main mission is to combat illegal wildlife trafficking and rescue the victims of poaching and canned hunting farms to have the peaceful, safe life they deserve. To that end, our work to rescue lions bred to be shot will continue until there are none to rescue. Until all of them finally touch grass for the first time in their lives.