When Cecil the lion, a star attraction in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, was killed for sport in 2015, outrage followed. But there is scant attention for a far bigger threat to the king of the beasts than trophy hunting.
Lions are increasingly being destroyed for their bones, which are exported to China for use in a wine sold as an aphrodisiac. For centuries, tiger bones were used in bogus treatments, reputedly meant to boost male libidos. Now, however, as tiger numbers plummet because of habitat loss and poaching – with maybe as few as 3200 left in the wild – cheaper and more plentiful lion skeletons are being used.
Proponents of this practice argue that the bones are not from wild animals, but from lions raised in southern Africa’s “canned lion” industry.