An investigation has been published that reveals thousands of lions are being bred specifically to be hunted and/or turned into medicines, as reported by Business Insider.
The investigation was funded by British politician Lord Ashcroft and took place over a year.
Ashcroft says lion-hunting for the bone trade is a thriving industry made of "green hunts," where lions are sedated before a trophy photo is taken.
The investigation also allegedly revealed that lions and tigers are being cross-bred for heavier bones, which are used in medicines sold in China and South East Asia.
The lion-breeding operation was uncovered after Ashcroft's team posed as potential clients, paying thousands in an attempt to take part in lion hunts.
"By allowing such a barbaric practice, the South African government is harming the reputation of a country that treasures its position on the international stage in the aftermath of apartheid," Ashcroft said in a statement.
Ladbible writes that the study claims 50 lions were killed at an "eco-farm" before being ground into medicine. The lions were also forced to stay in small cages in slaughterhouses.
Ladbible writes that according to Dr. Mark Jones, a policy leader at the Born Free Foundation:
"Far from contributing to wild lion protection, captive lion breeding facilities cynically exploit these animals at every stage for profit."
"Ultimately many of these animals will end up in canned hunts or as part of the bone trade. It's factory farming by another name."