A guide to the fine art of Lion taxidermy

South African Lion hunts are exciting and rewarding, putting the sport to the ultimate test. Lions along with various other trophies you bring home are some of the most sought-after in the hunting world.  With all the time, money, and talent required, it’s certainly worth it to have this memory reproduced in taxidermy.

Simply put, Lion taxidermy is the practise of re-creating a Lion’s stature and form most aesthetically, capturing the majesty of the Lion in its natural habitat, by using the hide that is skinned during field preparation. It is meticulous artwork at the best of times. One that requires intensive planning and attention to detail. 

Careful artistry is required when making the mannikin mould to suite the various sized Lions taken. Each Lion has its unique facial and bodily features, muscle definition, mane, character that is to be replicated, during the making of the mannikin. It takes time, patience, dedication, and pure talent to achieve a life-like Lion trophy in all its glory. 

How the Lion taxidermy process works:

Leading taxidermists such as Life-Form Taxidermy use premium and natural materials gathered from all around the world to complete the Lion taxidermy process.

With careful consideration and attention to detail, your beloved Lion trophy will be beautifully reproduced in a manner faithful to the original stature.

Lion hides are skinned post hunt and preserved for future taxidermy work – field preparation is the most important part. When clients have provided their mounting instructions and their orders are confirmed, hydration of the hide in a pickle solution, is the first step. The hide is tanned and then shaved. During the shaving process, the mannikin is made so that the hide can be fitted. After the fitting stage, the hide is then taken for repair/stitching of bullet holes and other skin imperfections, while the mannikin is transformed to fit the hide perfectly. Soon thereafter, the hide is fitted again for stitching. The final touches are made, and this is when complete concentration and attention to detail unfolds. The artistry takes place in the final moments of the taxidermy process. Life-Form Taxidermy prides themselves in the detail and form of each trophy in their care.  

Throughout the above process, there are numerous quality inspections taking place by the managerial team, offering that additional guidance and support, when needed, whilst ensuring that the clients dream trophy comes to life. 

When the Lion trophy is complete and the managerial team is satisfied with the end product, the trophy then transfers to a packing department, with each container constructed in accordance with the highest standards of efficiency and according to international requirements for successful shipping.

How to prepare your Lion trophy for the taxidermy process

An unforgettable experience and a priceless trophy await those who go Lion hunting in South Africa.

Either the male or female Lions may provide an exciting hunting experience. Whenever hunting Lions, the goal should be to make a precise kill shot. Don’t shoot unless you’re confident in your ability to kill the animal, immediately.

Shots to the head or neck should be avoided, especially by younger or less experienced hunters. If the Lion is charging at you from the front, shoot for the shoulder; if it’s coming at you from the side, aim for the neck.

Carefully, follow the advice of your professional hunter, and always be ready with a backup shot in case your first doesn’t succeed.

Following a successful kill, the Lion’s skin can be removed most cleanly via the so-called dorsal cut.

The spine must be severed in half, beginning at the base of the cranium, and ending at the tail’s beginning. Be sure to use a clean, sharp blade, and remember that carbon steel scalpels are the golden standard.

The sooner the animal is skinned, the less likely it is to experience bacterial activity and hair slip because of the process. It’s crucial to make sure the skin is completely devoid of any trace of flesh, cartilage, muscle, and fat. 

Concentrate on the face, ears, and eyes. As soon as the Lion has cooled down, which should be within two hours after being shot, put it in the freezer so that rigour mortis can set in.

After skinning the animal, immediately wash the skin well to remove any trace of blood. It is recommended to use an anti-bacterial solution like F10(cl) for this. 

When the skin has been drip-dried for a few minutes, it is ready to be salted. Use a lot of salt and really work it into all the creases and folds, of the skin. Hang the skin up to dry after three to four days.

Also Read: Top Tips for a Beginner Hunter