To mark World Lion Day, 10 August, Wilderness Safaris celebrates lions and landscapes, its partnership with the Lionscape Coalition and Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), as well as its Lionscape camps and conservation projects. This forms part of the company’s vision to conserve and restore Africa’s wilderness and wildlife by creating life-changing journeys and inspiring positive action.
Now classified by the IUCN as Vulnerable, with the West African subspecies ‘Critically Endangered’, habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal wildlife trade, bushmeat poaching and human-lion conflict continue to threaten this iconic species.
“Over the past 39 years, we have supported lion conservation and research via our non-profit partner, the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, as well as through our presence on the ground, supporting anti-poaching and de-snaring units and human-lion conflict mitigation. But, there is more to do; by being a founding member of the Lionscape Coalition, we aim to help the LRF achieve its vision of doubling the numbers of wild lions in Africa by 2050. By working together with others in the industry, we can educate people around the world about lions and turn that awareness into support for conservation, enabling us to help conserve lions both in tourism areas and those that are far from the tourism radar”.
The company continues to initiate and support a number of lion conservation projects across the continent, including Wilderness Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp’s ongoing support of Dr Philip Stander’s Desert Lion Project, which works to protect desert-adapted lion and mitigate human-lion conflict in the harsh Namib.
In Kafue National Park, Wilderness Shumba and Busanga Bush Camp provide crucial support to lion conservation despite having a shortened tourism season. This includes the Kafue Large Carnivore Conservation Project in the Greater Kafue Ecosystem, which is home to Zambia’s second-largest lion population.
Wilderness camps in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park – Linkwasha, Little Makalolo and Davison’s – are also jointly involved in lion conservation through the Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit. The locally hired unit helps mitigate the impacts of illegal snaring in the eastern boundary region of Hwange.
“The future of Africa’s irreplaceable wilderness and wildlife, and its tourism industry, are inseparable from the future of the African lion. As leaders in conservation tourism, we look forward to more fruitful collaborations with governments, non-profit organisations and other tourism entities, because we believe that together we can reverse the dramatic lion population decline and help sustain these areas and the African tourism industry. We hope that you will join us on our journey to celebrate lions and lionscapes, and help us make a meaningful difference”
Photos by Dr Peter Lindsey