playing with lion cubs lion cubs love attention

Walking with lions and playing with lions cubs has been a controversial subject in recent times. There are a few animal extremists who campaign against this, which they believe to be cruel. As in all topics (religion, politics, ethics) extremist views should be taken with a pinch of salt. If you’ve ever owned a dog or cat then you have enough savvy to know if a cub is scared of you or stressed, it will totally avoid contact with you. 98% of our guests are animal lovers and are thrilled with the way the cubs engage them, seek contact and initiate play. Lions are social animals, and like your dog, they crave love and attention and cannot be left caged on their own, even if it is a big cage. Our lion cubs are not restrained or leashed, if one doesn’t feel like socializing, he’ll let you know by walking a little away from the group and keeping his distance. He has all the space and freedom to do so!

We don’t survive off donations and we don’t pay fundraising companies exorbitant fees that would be better spent on our own lions. A few years ago elephants were the big hype and every ‘cruelty prevention society’ was collecting money to stop elephant interactions and to “protect” the elephant in Africa. Now lions are in the new hype and everyone has forgotten about the elephants. The irony is that many of these fund-raising societies don’t own a single elephant, lion or wildlife sanctuary in Africa. Have you ever spent the time to check what your donated money gets used for?

A recent study done by the SCI titled "Keeping the lion's share" investigated 4 major animal rights groups in the USA and found that they spend a minimum of 50% and up to 75% of donated money for fundraising. In short, 75 cents of every dollar you give them goes to fundraising and only 25 cents goes to the cause of lion protection. You are literally donating money to be used to sell you the story! Perhaps it's time to make up your own mind about media hype statements like "All hand raised cubs get hunted". You could be tricked into believing and donating, only to find that your money is being used mostly to fundraise. As soon as the lion issue becomes old news, your donation gets used to sell you the next big emotional issue. Wait for the coming appeal to “save” the African Pangolin - and the fund-raising organization!

After all is said and done, true lion conservation will only continue if it is sustainable. Over the last 21 years we have been here, offering lion tours and using the money earned for our small part protecting our wildlife, not just for this generation but for our children and their children too.

  • We are fully permitted with the Department of Nature Conservation. This is a government department that monitors and controls wildlife initiatives and ensures animals are kept happy and healthy.
  • We are members of WRASA (Wildlife Ranching Association of South Africa)
  • We are members of GAZ (Gauteng Association of Zoos)
  • We are members of WWF (World Wildlife fund)
  • Our cubs are bred from excellent genetic bloodlines and we concentrate on genetic diversity.
  • We adhere to our veterinarian’s strict deworming, immunization and feeding program to assure that the cubs are raised at optimum health.
  • We are a small dedicated business, we only take small tour groups and only twice a day so our cubs have lots of quiet time to themselves. All cubs have different personalities and if we see that one is feeling stressed then he or she is immediately removed to the peace and comfort of the nursery.
  • We have 4 adult female lionesses and 2 male lions that are part of our family. We only allow the lionesses a few litters each year to ensure that they stay strong and healthy. Don't confuse us with one of those establishments that have over 50 lions on the property!
  • After one year the lions are ready for the next stage of their lives. They are placed into a pride and introduced to large enclosures to prepare them to fend for themselves.
  • The lions we have released till now have had great success in hunting and surviving - this is mostly due to our walking program.
  • We only donate our lions to safe wildlife parks and go to great lengths to ensure they kept far from the “canned lion” industry.

Dr. Colin MacRae has been involved in research projects involving lions and other wildlife with the Onderstepoort Veterinary hospital and Pretoria Zoo.

Dr. Colin MacRae is a well-known and respected scientist, conservationist and lecturer. He obtained his BSc (Hons) degree in Palaeontology (the study of fossils and evolutionary biology) in 1975 from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He was awarded his MSc in 1978 and his Ph D (Palynology) in 1987. He joined the Council for Geoscience in 1978 and was head of Palaeontology Section from 1986 to 1993. Colin is an accomplished speaker and has presented numerous lectures ranging from popular levels for amateurs to international scientific congresses.

Colin is the founder and was the first president of the South African Society for Amateur Palaeontologists. Colin and his wife started Horseback Africa Tours and Safaris in 1994, established the Elandshoek Nature Reserve in 2000 and the present Horseback Africa Game Park in 2004.

Horseback Africa’s tours and safaris are focused on education and enrichment, giving participants an experience of a lifetime and not just a photo.


lion cub getting a cuddleplaying with lion cub
swimming with lions


Interesting reading:

*Keeping the lion's share, SCI Foundation

*Little of charity's money going to help animals, By David Fitzpatrick and Drew Griffin, CNN Special Investigations Unit

*Shelter Scams, by Mr. Wane Cavanaugh, president United Kennel Club

*Animal Shelter Fraud, by Barbara J Andrews,