LionAid's Project: UNESCO - Recognise Lions as a World Heritage Species - Started 2010
The proposal to have UNESCO recognise lions as a World Heritage Species was first conceived and put in motion by Dr Pieter Kat of LionAid in 2010. The idea was in recognition of the many different ways lion symbology, imagery, and iconography play such a profound role in the culture and art of of humans across the planet.
A call for lions to be designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Species
In 2010 LionAid proposed that UNESCO adopts lions as a World Heritage Species. Great Apes have already been so named, and to qualify, a species needs a clear and significant importance and relevance with human culture. Lions meet all requirements. This species is readily identified with world heritage through symbolism, iconography, imagery, allegory, literature, totems, fables, art, etc. Lions are richly endowed with representation in world culture as a symbol of nobility, bravery, courage, steadfastness, and loyalty. Lions are iconographic in many of the world's major religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Lions have been represented in art, statuary and symbolism for at least 35,000 years, and are even an important part of culture in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines - where lions never occurred.
Why Having Lions Recognised as a World Heritage Species Helps Lion Conservation
Listing lions as a World Heritage species could greatly benefit conservation efforts under the additional protection provided by UNESCO. Lions in Africa are currently in great decline. Fifty years ago there were perhaps 200,000 lions on the continent, but now we have less than 15,000 remaining. Lions are decreasing at a rapid rate due to habitat loss, conflict with humans and livestock, and trophy hunting. Can we as a world society afford to lose our icons because we are not inventive enough to propose novel ways to ensure their survival?
Through this initiative we will call on political leaders, scientists, leaders in the field of conservation and world citizens to support a motion to be submitted to UNESCO. Lions need to be recognized for what they are – an iconic species in rapid decline that we can no longer ignore. Not only for reasons of preservation of our natural heritage but also because of our strong cultural ties and affinities.
The History of Lions as a World Heritage Species.
2010 Dr Pieter Kat first conceives the idea to have UNESCO formerly recognise lions as a World Heritage Species. He puts together a document (see below) which he presents to UNESCO to get the process started.
2012 Following lots of work behind the scenes Chris Macsween publishes a "call to arms" on the official LionAid blog asking for people all over the world to add support to the movement by sending photos of lion art and iconography from around the world. Here is the blog article about Lions as a World Heritage Species from April 2012
Download the Original 2010 Document which on Lions as a UNESCO World Heritage Species
Along with many other campaigns and lion conservation projects the team at LionAid have continued to persue this goal of making Lions a recognised World Heritage Species... as well they should be. We thank everyone for their on going support, Dr Pieter Kat and all the team on behalf of LionAid and lions everywhere.