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Singita Joins Leading Ecotourism Operators to Launch the Lionscape Coalition

In just 25 years, our continent’s lion population has dropped dramatically – only 50% now roam wild in Africa’s iconic landscapes, which has prompted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to officially classify them as a “Vulnerable” species. Habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal wildlife trade, bushmeat poaching and human-lion conflict continue to threaten these big cats. In response to the growing threat of extinction and the profound knock-on effect this could have on biodiversity, Singita has joined forces with three of Africa’s other leading ecotourism operators to launch The Lionscape Coalition. Together with &Beyond, Wilderness Safaris and Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Singita is working to secure a future for these big cats and their natural habitat. This innovative initiative sees four commercial competitors, who each share the bold vision of the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) to double wild lion numbers by 2050, collaborate on lion conservation programmes across the continent.

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

As apex predators, lions are regarded by scientists as an “umbrella” species; if a wild lion population thrives, it means the entire ecosystem around it is functioning effectively. The health and stability of lion populations has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the surrounding wilderness, which makes their conservation an ecological imperative, as well as an economical one, considering the livelihoods which rely on ecotourism for survival. Paul Thomson, who heads up Conservation Strategies for the Wildlife Conservation Network, which established the LRF, articulated the importance of this relationship: “The initiative taken by the Lionscape Coalition’s founding partners to look past their business imperatives and collaborate sends a powerful message that conservation is part of good business. Collectively the coalition boasts more than 100 years of positive conservation and community impact across ten African countries.”

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

The horizon for recovery is bright however; as a resilient species, lions will rapidly reproduce if their habitats and prey are protected, if communities are incentivised to co-exist with them and if poaching can be controlled. By prioritising the conservation of wilderness areas in which lions can flourish and creating healthy “lionscapes” which benefit local communities, the decline of the species can be reversed; their populations, and subsequently many other critical species, will recover.

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

Each of the four coalition partners has made an annual philanthropic commitment to the LRF, whereby half the amount contributed is directed to projects in countries where the member operates, while the other half is utilised at the discretion of the LRF’s Granting Committee. In this way, these ecotourism companies are making a direct contribution to lion conservation beyond the boundaries of their direct areas of operation. Apart from directly supporting the LRF’s conservation work, the Lionscape Coalition, in their capacity as ecotourism operators, are focused on engaging guests before, during and after their safaris about the importance of saving these magnificent cats.

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

The strategy of this dedicated initiative focuses on three critical aspects:

  • expanding the lion conservation footprint
  • building public, political, and philanthropic will
  • scaling funding available for the conservation of lions and their landscapes

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

Ecotourism in Africa is intrinsically linked to the health of its iconic wildlife populations and their captivating landscapes. The loss of any species disrupts the natural balance of an ecosystem, however, the loss of an umbrella species would be truly devastating to the biodiversity of our continent. It also jeopardises the tourism industry itself, the jobs it creates and the many national economies to which it makes such an important contribution. The important and undeniable relationship between responsible travel and the future of the African lion makes the commitment of the LRF critical to Africa’s future which the members of the Lionscape Coalition are proud to be working to secure. It is also a natural extension of Singita’s 100-year purpose to protect and preserve large areas of Africa for future generations.

Make a donation to the Lion Recovery Fund and help Singita and partners of the Lionscape Coalition to support LRF’s vision to double wild lion numbers by 2050. 100% of these funds will be channelled directly to LRF’s 42 projects in 18 African countries. DONATE NOW

Leading Ecotourism Operators Join Forces to Launch the Lionscape Coalition

USING ECOTOURISM TO EFFECT CONSERVATION CHANGE

28 March 2019 – In partnership with the Lion Recovery Fund, Africa’s leading ecotourism operators, &Beyond, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Singita and Wilderness Safaris, have joined forces to launch the Lionscape Coalition – an innovative initiative that has seen four commercial competitors come together to help secure a future for Africa’s lions and their landscapes.

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

Africa’s lion population has halved in the past 25 years, and the species is now officially 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 lions across Africa. Yet lions are a resilient species and a turnaround is still possible if these key issues are addressed.

As apex predators, lions are regarded by scientists as an “umbrella” species; if a lion population is thriving, it means the entire ecosystem around it is functioning effectively. “Conserving wild lions is therefore synonymous with conserving African wilderness”, commented Paul Thomson from the Wildlife Conservation Network, which manages the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF). “With a unique ability to inspire and inform travellers about the threats faced by these magnificent cats – and the habitat they need to survive – Africa’s ecotourism industry can play a pivotal role in bringing them back, which is why we are thrilled to launch this exciting new partnership.”

“The initiative taken by the Lionscape Coalition’s founding partners to look past their business imperatives and collaborate sends a powerful message that conservation is part of good business. Collectively, &Beyond, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Singita and Wilderness Safaris boast more than 100 years of positive conservation and community impact and work across ten African countries”, he added.

Underpinning their commitment, each member of the Lionscape Coalition has made an annual philanthropic investment into the LRF. Half of the amount contributed is directed to projects in countries where the member operates, while the other half is utilised at the discretion of the LRF’s Granting Committee. In this way, these ecotourism companies are making a direct contribution to lion conservation beyond the boundaries of their direct areas of operation.

The LRF’s stated vision is to see wild lion numbers doubled by 2050. By engaging guests before, during and after their safaris about the threats and opportunities for lion conservation, Lionscape Coalition members will aim to generate additional funding in support of the LRF’s goals, with 100% of all donations received channelled directly to projects on the ground.

The strategy of this dedicated initiative focuses on three critical aspects: expanding conservation coverage by increasing the extent and effectiveness of the management of ‘lionscapes’ across Africa; the building of public, political, and philanthropic will, creating a collective intent across the spheres of governments, non-profit organisations, philanthropists and the general public; and the scaling of funding, elevating the amount of funding available for the conservation of lions and their landscapes.

Africa’s ecotourism is intrinsically linked to the health of its iconic wildlife populations and their captivating landscapes. As an undisputed favourite for safari guests, losing lions will not only have dire ecological consequences, but will jeopardise the tourism industry itself, the jobs it creates and the many national economies to which it makes such an important contribution.

The future of Africa’s irreplaceable wilderness and wildlife and its tourism industry are inseparable from the future of the African lion. The Lionscape Coalition shares the LRF’s bold vision to double the number of wild lions in Africa.

Singita and Wilderness Safaris join the Lionscape Coalition | Taga Safaris

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