The Lionscape Coalition, a conservation collaboration to protect wild lion populations in Africa, won the coveted ‘’Conservation and Sustainability” award at PURE Life Experiences, which was announced 10 September 2019, in Morocco. Hosted annually, this niche travel show and award ceremony celebrates the profound ability of the travel industry to change the world.
The awards honour tourism pioneers who raise the bar, tirelessly push the boundaries and use travel to change mindsets, empower communities and protect the planet. The “Conservation and Sustainability” category specifically acknowledges a project that is eco-friendly and shows due responsibility to natural resources for the benefit of the tourism industry and the world – as judged by esteemed travel journalists. This year, the award honoured an innovative collaboration between four of Africa’s leading ecotourism companies to help save threated wild lions.
The Lionscape Coalition was launched in 2019 by &Beyond, Wilderness Safaris, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, and Singita to raise awareness of declining lion populations; as well as generate funding for the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) to implement numerous projects in Africa. The Lion Recovery Fund, has to date, deployed more than USD5.5 million in support of 53 projects by 35 conservation organisations across 17 countries.
Each founding member contributes USD 50,000 annually. Half is used to fund lion conservation projects of the member’s choice in areas where they operate – a total of almost 7,5 million hectares in 10 African countries. The other half is deployed by the LRF towards conservation and habitat protection in areas with little or no tourism, where lions receive less protection and face growing human-wildlife conflict. The success of the Lionscape Coalition has attracted a new member, Dazzle Africa, to join this pioneering conservation initiative.
Says Peter Lindsey, Director of Lion Recovery Fund: “We are so proud that the Lionscape Coalition won at the PURE awards. This novel initiative has brought some of the most influential tourism companies in Africa behind a significant, large-scale conservation effort. Companies that compete with one another for business are working together for conservation, and that is truly powerful! At LRF, we are truly grateful for the support of our Lionscape Coalition members. Together, we can make a huge difference to conservation efforts across the continent.”
The LRF’s objective is to double the number of lions in Africa by 2050, improve the management of their habitats, promote awareness and drive funds for lion conservation. Part of its success is that 100% of donations are used for these lion projects.
Africa’s ecotourism is intrinsically linked to the health of its iconic wildlife populations and their landscapes. As an undisputed favourite for safari guests, losing lions will not only have dire ecological consequences, but will jeopardise the tourism industry itself – as well as the jobs it creates. The future of Africa’s irreplaceable wilderness and wildlife and its tourism industry are inseparable from the future of the African lion.