We aspire to double the number of lions.
Africa’s landscapes must become lionscapes.
These landscapes in Africa are under extreme pressure as they become populated by more and more people. They include a mosaic of protected areas (such as parks and reserves) and community lands.
Meant to preserve nature and its services to man in perpetuity, protected areas are sadly no longer safe harbor. Today, African protected areas are insufficiently managed and poorly resourced. They are often laced with wire poaching snares that drain the wilderness of prey for lions as well as the predator themselves. Well managed protected areas are critical to maintaining the health of ecosystems, of which lions are an integral part, and are essential if lion populations are to grow and thrive.
Human communities are also a critical part of these landscapes. Communal lands are around, between, and often within protected areas, and how they are managed will play a critical role in the future of lions. If they are managed to be wildlife-friendly, community lands can connect parks and reserves and prevent landscapes from becoming fragmented into small pockets of ever dwindling habitat. Management of communal lands and support to local communities in these landscapes will make or break the viability of these lion populations.
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.