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Bridging Letter

 

The African Lion Working Group’s statement on a petition to list the African lion as an endangered species says it all when it opens with the following words: “About 30,000 African lions remain in the wild, inhabiting less than 20% of their former range. Their survival is threatened primarily by conflict with people over depredation of livestock, bushmeat snaring and the loss of prey and habitat.”

Whenever one thinks of African wildlife, the image of a pride of golden lions trekking across the vast savannah comes to mind …these iconic Big Cats may be a symbol of strength in the animal kingdom, but lion conservation efforts are needed now more than ever, to prevent the decline of this species.

The last few years in the Kunene region in Namibia’s north west have been, for the most part, dry, really dry. The drought has had a disastrous effect on livestock statistics with cattle numbers plummeting; the already beleaguered farmer has come under ever-increasing strain to eke out a living in this inhospitable environment. The result is that the large carnivores in the area, already poorly tolerated because of the threat to their livestock, are often today destroyed at first sight.

AfriCat North, primarily the AfriCat Foundation field-base for lion research, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and community support, has seen its role as a lion-conservation force in the Kunene Region, grow exponentially.

The need to have a significant presence to protect the lion, to assist with lion-farmer conflict situations, to mentor otherwise desperate farmers in predator-friendly farming practices and to educate the youth, grows with each passing dry year.

The cost just to keep the operation, as lean as it is, up and running has outstripped the limited funding currently available.

To date, the AfriCat Foundation Head-Quarters, based on Okonjima, have carried out a remarkable job in providing through their tourism activities, not only for their own needs but also for those of their field-based, lion projects in the North West. However, it is no longer possible to keep all the ‘balls in the air’: the time has come for Okonjima to focus on AfriCat’s in-house Park Research programmes, the Perivoli School Education as well as all the organisation’s staff and infrastructure.

AfriCat North, on the other hand, must now grow further and become self-sustaining, generating funds from its own activities to support lion conservation and the communities living within the Kunene’s lion range.

In order to do this, AfriCat North must now boldly set out with renewed energy and commitment as the Namibian Lion Trust, with our slogan FOR LIONS, FOR LIFE and FOR OUR FUTURE, dedicated to Panthera leo.

The Namibian Lion Trust will embark on its chosen path with imagination, creativity and determination for it is without question, essential that AfriCat North’s work must continue. 

 

There will always be a challenge but this stand-alone position will have a number of long-term benefits, not least to free up the organisation from its close association with the highly successful, revenue-generating tourist business that is Okonjima, ‘Home of the AfriCat Foundation’.

The Namibia Lion Trust needs your help now, more than ever. Many of you have been there for the African lion in the past, but the future is here, today. None of us wish to have the “King of the Jungle” condemned to history.

The time to strike is now... Help us 'Protect our Prides'

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