Despite significant economic trials in 2023, we at LionAid have stayed our important course to ensure the survival of lions in the wild. This is our challenging but achievable mission, always maintained and buoyed by your backing and input.
We have had the successes and the setbacks expected to attempt to conserve one of the most iconic species on the planet. Wild lions are running out of space and time, besieged by poachers and trophy hunters, challenged by loss of natural prey and increasingly confronted by the consequences of climate change.
But let’s look back on 2023 to see what we have managed to achieve:
1. Ever since LionAid was formed as a charitable organization in 2010, we have lobbied, advocated, campaigned and fought hard to eliminate trophy hunting of lions. It has been a long tussle with governments in source nations (Africa) and consuming nations (mainly USA and Europe). Yes, we have had some successes – for example the banning of captive bred lion trophies being imported into the USA, the placement of wild lions in a “special” category to be considered with extra care before allowing trophy imports into the EU, lobbying the governments of Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania to cease trophy hunting of lions, assisting with successful bans of lion trophy imports into Australia and the Netherlands, and working ceaselessly to encourage a ban on trophy hunting imports of lions into the UK.
2. A recent Bill to prevent the import of a number of species considered endangered or vulnerable was scuppered by the UK House of Lords by a filibuster instigated by a handful of members. You can read more detail about this shameful event here. Once again a setback for lion conservation caused by vested interests among politicians, but LionAid will continue to work to see a ban take place. We have good contacts with a large number of politicians in the Houses of Commons and the Lords (we motivated three Adjournment Debates in Parliament to date) and will seek to move the issue forward via the available option of secondary legislation.
3. One of the most significant challenges to wild lion survival is conflict with humans and their livestock. LionAid, together with the pastoralist community of Merrueshi whose lands border Amboseli National Park in Kenya, have been able to launch an innovative and highly sustainable project to alleviate such conflict. By engaging the community in a programme where villages are equipped with solar panels to provide predator deterrent lights and for the first time lights within their homes, linked to provision by the community of an insurance herd to compensate for livestock losses, we have been able to achieve ZERO predation events and ZERO retaliation against predators. This achievement is unmatched by any other predator protection programme in Africa, and with additional funding LionAid will seek to not only bring benefits of our project to other villages within the Merrueshi community but expand the scope to other pastoralist communities in Kenya and Tanzania.
4. Via our growing network of trusted contacts in African lion range states, LionAid will continue to monitor and publish information on the actual and real situation of wild lion populations remaining. In 2024, LionAid will publish the third of our certified and factual assessments of continental lion population numbers – and our evaluation of where conservation emphasis is most needed for greatest effect to ensure their survival.
We believe these achievements are actually amazing for a rather small charity. With your much needed financial support we can continue to grow our programmes and influence – and to ensure the safety and survival of arguably one of the most iconic species on our planet.
Again, we send you all our best wishes for the upcoming festive days and the New Year!