Canned hunting, by definition, is when predators are bred in cages or confined areas specifically for hunting. African wild lion numbers are declining and obtaining permits to hunt them are expensive.
However, farms that offer canned or captive hunting have a growing market for hunters who cannot afford the price of the permit for a wild hunt.
South Africa is considered the top destination for trophy hunting and captive-bred. There are approximately 200 farms and breeding facilities in South Africa that hold between 6,000 and 8,000 predators, most of these are lions.
Over 800 captive-bred lions are killed in South Africa annually by trophy hunters making SA largest legal exporter of lion bones and skeletons. From 2008-2015, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued export permits for 5,363 lion skeletons. Ninety-eight percent of these were destined for Laos and Vietnam, which are known hubs for illegal wildlife trafficking. 2017, the DEA approved an increase in the annual export quota to 800 lion skeletons from captive-bred lions.
Some of these breeders may claim they are part of the conservation of the species but research has proven that unless the animals are under the supervision of scientists and conservationists, breeding predators in cages or enclosed areas has no conservation value.
In South Africa, there has not been a successful lion reintroduction program with captively bred lions, and many conservationists have warned that captive-bred lions are not suitable for reintroduction into the wild. Authentic wildlife sanctuaries in the country do not breed, trade or promote prolonged interaction with the animals in any way.