Why are Lions in crisis?
A revered predator that once roamed across much of Africa has fallen victim to complex threats that are dramatically increasing as human population growth and development rise across the continent.
The bush-meat trade. The bush-meat trade is the commercial sale of meat acquired through the illegal poaching of wildlife, such as antelope. Often leading to a violent death, this poaching is often done with wire snares placed along water and feeding routes to maximize the capture of animals. Once for subsistence, today much of the bush-meat trade occurs in protected areas, is illegal, and is for commercial purposes. Illegal hunting for bush-meat affects lions in two ways; by dramatically reducing the populations of animals that are food sources for lions and by directly killing lions who inadvertently are caught in the wire snares that are set to illegally harvest other species.
Human-lion conflict. Conflict between lions and people arises when lions attack and kill livestock, which often triggers farmers to retaliate by killing lions. Retaliatory killing in its worst form is conducted using poison which can kill entire prides and a host of other species—from elephants to vultures to wild dogs, leopards and cheetah.
Livestock and human encroachment into lion habitat. With rapidly growing human populations, there are increasing influxes of livestock and herders in search of better grazing within wildlife areas across Africa – resulting in more conflict between people and lions. Livestock also outcompete wild antelope and other key prey for lions. In many cases influxes of herders are also associated with secondary problems such as elevated poaching. Many such movements of people into lion landscapes result in complete habitat loss due to conversion to agriculture and settlement.
Loss of habitat connectivity. Human settlement and development is gradually creating ever smaller and more isolated pockets of wilderness in which lions and their prey exist, making it challenging or impossible for lions to roam or disperse safely and restricting gene flow which leaves populations vulnerable to disease and other threats.
Targeted poaching. There is a growing threat to lions in certain parts of Africa from the targeted poaching of lions for their body parts, such as skins, claws, teeth and bones. The drivers of such poaching and trade are currently poorly understood; however there is a clear and growing Asian market for these products.
Ceremonial killing. In certain parts of Africa, lions are killed by local people during rites of passage ceremonies to demonstrate manhood or bravery.
Other threats. A range of other threats affect lions and their prey in some places, including: mining in wildlife areas, illegal logging, poorly regulated trophy hunting, and disease.
The loss of half the lions in Africa over the past 25 years demands that donors and conservationists alike unite and bring our best, collaborative investments and actions forward for the recovery of lions and the restoration of their landscapes.
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The Lion Recovery Fund has a vision is to double the number of lions in Africa.
In the past 25 years, lion numbers have been cut in half across Africa. The vision of the Lion Recovery Fund is to bring that half back, recovering lion’s continent-wide to ~40,000 individuals by 2050.
They work towards lion recovery using a three-pronged strategy that expands the conservation footprint, builds the public, political, and philanthropic will for lion and landscape recovery, and scales up the level of funding for conservation of lions and their habitat.
The Lion Recovery Fund is designed to be catalytic and works to stimulate new levels of financial commitment, create new conservation investments to expand the conservation footprint, scale up approaches proven to work, and convene organizations to explore ways to work together where collaboration has not been present before.
There is general consensus that recovering lions and restoring landscape across their range will require concerted efforts across three strategies:
Expand Conservation Footprint
Expand the current footprint of lion conservation across Africa. Strengthen existing efforts and catalyse new conservation initiatives where there are gaps in lions’ range.
Build the Will
Build public, political and philanthropic will that is essential to recover lions and restore their landscapes.
Scale the Funding
Significantly increase the funding available for lion conservation through new private and public investment.
Please download the Strategy to Recover Lions and Their Landscapes document for a more detailed look into our strategy for lion recovery.
Success is Possible and recent studies have revealed that if all protected areas within the existing lion range were adequately managed for lions, we could more than triple the number of lions we have today. The imperative to support these core areas and communal lands around them is clear.
Lions can be prolific. Lions will rapidly reproduce and their numbers will recover if their habitats are protected, if they have enough prey, if communities are incentivized to tolerate and co-exist with them and if poaching is minimized.
If Africa’s landscapes were managed as lionscapes, i.e. lands where lions and their prey thrive to the benefit of local people, lion loss can be reversed and their populations — and that of many other critical species — will recover.
How can I make a donation?
There are many more ways you can help towards our goal. We understand that your giving is important to you and we want you to do it in the way that suits you. If you would like to find out about more ways you can support The Lion Recovery Fund conservation programme, joining an expedition or even funding a lion collaring, please contact our Individual Giving Manager at [email protected] and find out how we can make the best of your generous contributions.
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Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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