Dar es Salaam – The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and its partners on Wednesday launched a campaign aimed at protecting the East African nation’s 40 per cent of the world’s remaining wild lions.
TTB in collaboration with the Lion Recovery Fund and WildAid, an international environmental organisation that focuses on reducing the demand for wildlife products, said lions were vital to the country’s economy, environment and cultural identity.
“If we do not protect our lions and make sure they have secure, safe areas in which to live, then we risk losing a vital part of our nation’s heritage and a key driver of our wildlife tourism industry,” said Devota Mdachi, TTB Managing Director.
“As a nation, we need to ensure that our lions thrive for generations to come,” she said.
The campaign urges Tanzanians to ask their local and national leaders to draft policies that will safeguard both lions and the people living alongside them.
“Tanzania might be one of the few places where coexistence is possible, where a number of community-driven organisations are pioneering systems that ensure people and wildlife are seeing benefits from keeping lions alive,” said Mdachi.
Across Africa, the number of wild lions has halved in just the last 20 years to about 20,000, according to TTB statistics.
“In spite of the positive steps that Tanzania has taken to protect its lion populations, much work has yet to be done in safeguarding the future of this species, which scientists consider vulnerable to extinction,” said Mdachi.
“When tourists come on safari to Tanzania, they always expect to see a lion.
“And they usually do because today our parks hold nearly half of the continent’s population of wild lions,” she said.
Peter Lindsey, the Director of Lion Recovery Fund, said lions and other wildlife were almost certainly declining in number and distribution as elsewhere, and were extremely vulnerable to a wide range of human threats.
Lion Recovery Fund is an organisation that invests in the most innovative and effective projects across Africa that can recover lions and restore their landscapes.
“Tanzania’s lions and wildlife landscapes need support now to help shield them from the human pressures and threats facing them,” said Lindsey.
Tanzania is home to 40 per cent of the world’s remaining wild lions; however, the lion’s survival is threatened by a number of factors.
Lindsey said 60 per cent of lions live outside of protected areas, where they are vulnerable to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and the bush meat trade.