Properly funded parks can conserve 83,000 lions, key to species' tenuous survival
Date: February 21, 2017
Africa's protected parks and reserves are capable of supporting three to four times as many wild lions if well funded and managed, according to a new report led by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization.
Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA).
In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions.
Panthera Research Associate and Wildlife Conservation Network Conservation Initiatives Director, Dr. Peter Lindsey, shared, "Africa's incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions and several other wildlife species, and can yield significant benefits for people. African governments have set aside enough space to conserve lions effectively -- we just need to find ways to enable those areas to be funded sufficiently and managed effectively. While a diverse set of approaches are needed to achieve lion conservation, it is clear that investing in improved management of PAs has particular potential to boost the conservation prospects for lions."
Lindsey continued, "Encouragingly, there are more than just biological reasons for investing in PAs. Well-funded protected areas, and especially those with lions, can play a critical role in developing tourism industries whose revenues can help to grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, protected areas also play essential roles in providing ecosystem services, such as watershed protection. By investing sufficiently in Africa's protected area network, the global community has the opportunity to halt and reverse the decline in lion numbers."