Last month I wrote how the National Wild Turkey Federation was completing turkey conservation action plans in every state in the US in partnership with state wildlife departments. A similar effort is required immediately in Africa, if the African lion is to be saved. Conservation Force has begun a new initiative to strategically institute and implement lion conservation by developing nation-by-nation action plans in the primary lion range nations. The plans will follow the regional models that were established at regional workshops held after Kenya’s proposal to list all African lion on Appendix 1 of CITES. In essence, we have set out to become the Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation of the African lion. The hunting community must take action, or we all too soon won’t have African lion.
This is an extraordinary but necessary undertaking if the African lion is to be saved. It will include the preparatory collection and analysis of field data in each country, then the hosting of a workshop with stakeholders to draft the most appropriate action plan to conserve the lion at the level conservation must take place. The regional plans adopted in 2005 and 2006 (West-Central Africa Workshop and Southern-Eastern Workshop) will provide models, but actual conservation action must be taken by national wildlife authorities and stakeholders on a country-by-country basis.
The preparatory work and workshops to draft the most important action plans will cost in excess of one million dollars over the next three years. The ambitious undertaking will require an unprecedented fundraising effort by Conservation Force. All funding received will be dedicated exclusively to the National Lion Conservation Plan Initiative. Nothing will be deducted for overhead. We need both organizations and individuals to step up to the plate as never before if the lion is to be saved. We also need to do it now before the 15th Conference of CITES in January 2010 if the lion is to be kept from being listed on Appendix 1.
No organization has had more lion conservation projects in more countries than Conservation Force. Conservation Force board members serve on both the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and the African Lion Working Group. This uniquely positions us to help host workshops that count. It was Conservation Force that completed the Chardonnet Lion Study, which is the most comprehensive, continent-wide study of the status of the African lion. That study includes the opinion of more than 50 consultants and authorities. We also published A Hunter’s Guide to Aging Lions in Eastern and Southern Africa. We have had 10 or more lion conservation projects going on at all times over most of this decade. All that said, this ambitious undertaking is beyond our means. It is time for the hunting community to step up and be taken into account when and where it really counts. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law as Conservation Force is a 501(c)(3) public foundation. We are breaking the bank to even start this initiative and need funds right now. It won’t wait, so we have already had to contract the commitments across Africa. The African lion needs us now. We need legacy level gifts from hunters that really care to weigh in when and where it counts. Please call me at 504-837-1233 or send your dedicated donation to Conservation Force at PO Box 278, Metairie, LA 70004-0278 USA. Earmark it for Lion Action Plans Initiative.