Claws are quite literally out as Craig Busch, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed Lion Man, opens a new wildlife park close to Rustenburg in South Africa.
Dubbed the Jabula Big Cat Sanctuary, it has been Busch’s dream to do this since his film, Lion Man: One World, was filmed in the country.
If you Wonder what happend to The lion man, Craig Busch, he´s living in Africa with the White lion male “Jabula”. pic.twitter.com/2uB5VZX9WQ
— Bemmer (@Bemmer777) August 15, 2014
However, members of the South African conservation community are not so happy about his move to Rustenburg, In fact, one local conservationist was surprised to hear Busch was setting up a park in South Africa.
Fred Berrange from the Leopard Conservation Park worked with Busch on the film. Berrange said that he found Busch’s methods different to how local conservationists work in South Africa, saying that the Lion Man was more into making money than caring for animals.
“This guy is not really into conservation. He wants to promote himself, make money out of it at the cost of animals.”
According to Berrange, he was there when Busch took a lion cub, Jabula, as his star, saying his training methods and the fact that the lion was declawed were unacceptable.
“He would beat Jabula while he was on the end of a chain to sit on a couch and watch television. That is not conservation.”
“He declawed Jabula… we don’t do that [in South Africa], that’s not what we’re about.”
Berrange went on to say that conservationists in South Africa focus on protecting animals in the wild, but Busch likes to have his big cats in cages on show. He said there are enough zoos in the world and that “Africa is about the wild animal here, and we try and keep that.”
Berrange’s Leopard Conservation Park works as a temporary home for injured animals, but he says they are all released back to the wild once rehabilitated. While people can visit the park and see the animals, it is not something just put on for show.
According to 3News, another conservationist, Louise Joubert of the Sanwild Wildlife Trust, is also critical of Busch’s plans. Her organization rehabilitates abused animals and she told the media that it is unnatural to try and tame wild animals.
— Liz Clark (@madbushfarm) January 26, 2015
On Busch’s side, he told Rapport that he had left New Zealand due to the lies being told about him about taming lions, saying, “You cannot tame a lion, but you can be its friend.”
The NZ Herald reports that, according to the website for Jabula Big Cat Sanctuary, they current have four lions, two tigers, and two cheetahs, and that the park is home to the well-known Lion Man Craig Busch. It goes on to say that the sanctuary offers game drives, big cat interaction, and a unique safari experience.
Busch became famous in New Zealand through a television series in 2004 filmed at the Whangarei’s Zion Wildlife Gardens. He ran the park together with his mother, Patricia Busch and wound up in costly legal proceedings over various incidents, including that of a big-cat handler, Dalubuhle Ncube, who was mauled to death by a male tiger in May 2009.
According to conservationists, there is sure to be more controversy arising from the fact that Busch has set up a park in South Africa. An episode of Busch’s television series is included below.
In other animal-related news, the Inquisitr recently reported on the story of a cute, and rare, baby pygmy hippo recently born in a U.K. zoo.
[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]