Africa’s protected area (PA) network contain some of the most iconic wilderness areas on the planet, and are home to the world’s most impressive assemblage of large mammals. PAs form the cornerstone of efforts to conserve lions and many other species. A significant and growing proportion of lion range falls within protected areas and the health of those areas (and the rangelands that surround them) are critical to the future of the species. However, Africa’s PAs are under threat from chronic under-funding.
A multi-organizational study led by Panthera and featuring Lion Recovery Fund Director Dr. Peter Lindsey, shows that annual funding shortfalls for PAs in lion range are at least US $1 billion in extent. Without urgent financial support, we can expect significant ongoing declines in the numbers of lions and other wildlife, even within PAs.
However, if Africa’s PAs were adequately funded, they could effectively secure the future for lions and many other species. Investing in PAs is also good for people; PAs form the basis for expanding tourism industries, which can grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, PAs also provide a range of environmental services that are essential to humanity, such as the protection of watersheds and storage of carbon. We urge the world to step up to the plate and provide the support needed to secure these incredible global assets.
In a recent New York Time article about the study, Peter explains how lions are a barometer of ecosystem health, so if PAs are managed to the level where lions can thrive, most other species are also likely doing well.