Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Lion Recovery Fund?

The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) has been established to catalyze impact and investment by donors and conservationists from around the globe to recover lions and restore their landscapes. 

LRF identifies and invests in the most innovative field conservation projects and campaigns that directly protect and promote conservation of this iconic species. The fund is also working to build a coalition of donors and conservationists who together will support lion conservation across the species’ range.

Who manages the LRF?

The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) is an initiative of the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and managed by WCN.  The Wildlife Conservation Network is a U.S. nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization,Tax ID #30-0108469, and is proud to have a top ranking amongst wildlife conservation organizations on Charity Navigator with a four star rating and platinum status with Guidestar, meaning every cent of every dollar donated goes directly to lion recovery.  The LRF receives input and guidance from an array of technical experts from a variety of different conservation organizations and academic institutions to ensure the best science and experience informs where we invest your contribution.

What is the goal of the LRF?

The lion population is estimated to have almost halved during the last quarter century (IUCN Red List Assessment). The population is now estimated to be as low as 20,000 individuals. The LRF aspires to a doubling of the number of lions, gaining back the half of lions we've lost in 25 years. Though ambitious, this goal is achievable: recent research indicates that the protected area network alone could support a population of lions three to four times the continental total if they were resourced and managed better.  

What are the strategies that the LRF will employ?

The LRF has two investment strategies to bring lions back: 

  1. Invest in Conservation Actions on the ground, to turn protected landscapes into lionscapes, where lions and people thrive.
  2. Invest in Conservation Campaigns to build the public, political, and philanthropic will to recover lions and to abate their biggest threats. 

Each of these investments encourages new levels of collaborations among and between conservationists and donors alike.

Who funds the LRF?

Start-up and ongoing support for the Lion Recovery Fund has been provided by the Wildlife Conservation Network and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. However, the LRF is funded by a range of foundations, companies, and philanthropic donors. Each and every one, regardless of the size of the donation, makes a difference in securing the future of wild lions and wild Africa.

What proportion of LRF funding is used for overhead and admin?

Zero. The LRF maintains a 100% donation model. Every dollar raised is directly deployed to projects that recover lions, with zero administrative fees or overhead.

What kind of conservation projects does the LRF support?

The Lion Recovery Fund invests in the best ideas from any institution to:

  • Retain and protect lions where large populations still exist,
  • Recover lions in landscapes where they could rapidly increase, and 
  • Rescue lions where they are on the verge of local extinction. 

These three categories can include land of any tenure category (e.g. protected areas, forestry lands, community lands, private lands, etc.) that is suitable for lion conservation. Investments by the Lion Recovery Fund include efforts to reduce human-lion conflict, enhance law enforcement and stop bushmeat poaching in reserves, campaigns to reduce threats to lions or raise awareness and investment in their recovery, and strategies to secure the space lions need to roam freely.

What kind of partners and organizations are typically funded?

In general, we work with known partners with an established track record of financial efficiency and accountability and strong reputation for achievements in the field. Prospective grantees must have a legal presence and have permissions in the country where work is proposed. In general, we prefer to give grants to NGOs working within an established framework such as 501c3 or equivalent status, and only provide grants directly to governments under exceptional circumstances. Campaign investments can include broader types of grantees, including for-profits offering highly leveraged investment opportunities.

What kind of projects are considered priorities for LRF funding?

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • Will be effective and yield direct and significant conservation benefits for lions. 
  • Are catalytic by initiating management presence and conservation action in parts of lion range where such presence is not currently available, or by allowing for a notable scaling up of approaches known to be effective. 
  • Leverage other funding by unlocking other sources of financing for the conservation project. 
  • Are Sustainable and can be maintained in the absence of recurrent LRF support. 

Note that LRF funding is not be restricted to typical ‘lion’ projects, and is available to a wide-range of conservation actors—including those involved in initiatives such as protected area management and community-based conservation.

What kind of projects are not eligible for LRF funding?

Support will not be provided for: 

  • Direct grants to governments (with rare exceptions) 
  • Post-graduate or other studies
  • Research in general
  • Conference attendance
  • Surveys of lions (with rare exceptions) 
  • Projects where LRF funding would offer little demonstrable value-addition or increase in conservation effort/footprint 
  • Projects involving captive lions

What size of grants does the LRF issue?

The LRF typically issues grants of US$30,000 to US$150,000, with smaller requests being more likely to be successful.

Does LRF issue repeat funding?

Acknowledging the challenge associated with raising recurrent funding for projects, the LRF will consider up to three years of funding in circumstances where multi-year support is essential. In the event that repeat-funding is issued, the amount allocated would likely wane each year. Smaller requests stand a higher chance of being granted, and evidence of financial sustainability for projects is essential.

What is the process for applying for funding from the LRF?

Individuals or organizations who are interested in applying for funding are requested to submit an email of inquiry to The email should not be longer than one paragraph to 1 A4 page in length. If the project is deemed potentially eligible and high priority for LRF funding during the current funding review period, the inquirer will be requested to submit a 3-page proposal (following a specific format that would be emailed to the person).

Who makes decisions about which projects are supported?

The LRF granting committee makes decisions on whether proposals will be funded, based on consensus. Unsuccessful applicants may or may not be invited to resubmit for the next round of funding.

What are the deadlines for applications?

There are no deadlines for applications, but the granting committee only meets once per quarter—typically in March, June, September, and December.

Does the LRF seek financial support from governments or from foundations?

It will take all sources of support to restore these landscapes and have lions and people thrive.   The LRF focuses on driving private sector support (individuals, foundations, corporate) into the Fund to catalyze support for the best ideas to recover lions and restore their landscapes.  We are also working to catalyze broader donor collaboration for Africa’s wild lands and wild life that includes public sector investment by national governments, and bilateral and multilateral aid.

What is the Fundraising Goal of the Lion Recovery Fund?

  • The LRF is a catalytic fund, starting with an initial fundraising goal of US $5 million over 3 years to jump-start deeper investment in the best ideas and collaborations by innovative conservation partners and funders to recover lions and restore their landscapes.      
  • Bringing back the half of lions we’ve lost the past 25 years - doubling their populations -  is a bold aspiration.  It will require a doubling down by current as well as new donors, from both the public and private sector.   
  • The LRF will support and encourage this deeper and broader investment in lion recovery by encouraging greater philanthropic commitment for African conservation, and encouraging collaborative and coordinated giving to make every dollar of this growing philanthropy make a difference for lions, their landscapes, and the people who live within them.

What is the Lionscape Coalition?

The Lionscape Coalition, created in May 2019, is a partnership between the LRF and some of Africa's leading tourism operators to support on-the-ground conservation efforts and encourage safari clients to support the future of lions. Each year, coalition members provide a philanthropic investment into the LRF for impact in landscapes where tourism operates and in areas beyond their areas of operation, so that parts of Africa off the beaten tourist track can benefit. The Lionscape Coalition will not only raise funds for lion conservation, but will help educate more people about the plight of lions and empower the travel industry to play an even bigger role in conservation.

How do you become a member of the Lionscape Coalition? 

If your tourism company is interested in becoming a member of the Lionscape Coalition, please contact Paul Thomson at