Ecotourism operators in Africa join forces for a better world in conservation | Private Safaris East Africa

Ecotourism operators in Africa join forces for a better world in conservation

endangered lion species

The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) in partnership with Africa’s leading ecotourism commercial brands such as Wilderness Safaris, &Beyond, Singita and Conservation Travel Foundation have joined forces to launch the Lionscape Coalition, an innovative initiative geared towards securing a future for Africa’s lions and their landscapes.

 

So, why would the IUCN classify African lion species as ‘Vulnerable’ and not to mention the West African subspecies which has been labelled as ‘critically endangered’? Well, it’s very simple. It’s clearly evident that human encroachment into the wildlife habitats, illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict, poaching among others explain why Africa’s lion population has reduced into almost half of its population in the past 25 years. Whilst lions can be resilient species, there is little that can be done to salvage these creatures if the key issues aren’t addressed.

 

Paul Thomson from the Wildlife Conservation Network, which manages the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) in his comments about lion conservation and also considering the  fact that lions sit at the top of the food chain, welcomes the scientists’ notion of regarding lions as an ‘umbrella species’ which means; If lions’ population is thriving well in any given food chain, then the entire food chain should be  functioning effectively and therefore, conserving lions species would be synonymous with conserving African Wilderness.

So, why the thrill? Why the partnership? Lionscape Coalition believes it has a unique ability to inspire and inform travellers from all walks of life about the threats facing these incredible cats and the type of habitat they need to survive in. They further believe Africa’s ecotourism industry can play a very critical role in restoring them back.

 

“The initiative taken by the Lionscape Coalition’s founding partners to look past their business imperatives and collaborate sends a powerful message that conservation is part of good business. Collectively, &Beyond, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Singita and Wilderness Safaris boast more than 100 years of positive conservation and community impact and work across ten African countries,” added Thomson.

endangered lion species

Underpinning their commitment, each member of the Lionscape Coalition has made an annual philanthropic investment into the LRF. Half of the amount contributed is directed to projects in countries where the member operates, while the other half is utilized at the discretion of the LRF’s Granting Committee. In this way, these ecotourism companies are making a direct contribution to lion conservation beyond the boundaries of their direct areas of operation.

 

With LRF’s mission to see wild lion numbers double by 2050 by engaging guests prior, during and after their safaris about the threats facing wild cats as well as available opportunities for lion conservation, Lions Coalition Members seek to raise additional funding in support of the LRF’s goals, with 100% of the proceeds channelled directly to projects on the ground.

 

 

The strategy of the initiative is anchored on three policies:

• To widen conservation coverage by increasing the extent and effectiveness of the management of ‘lionscapes’ across Africa.

 

• The building of public, political, and philanthropic will, creating a collective intent across the spheres of governments, non-profit organizations, philanthropists and the general public.

 

• Boost funding, elevating the amount of funding available for the conservation of lions and their landscapes.

 

Africa’s ecotourism is anchored on the health of its wildlife populations and their landscapes and therefore, it is difficult for one to exist without the other. As an undisputed favourite product for safari guests, losing lions will not only have ecological consequences but will also jeopardize the tourism industry itself, the jobs it creates and the many national economies to which it makes such an important contribution.

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