With increasing human-lion conflict and declining wild cat populations, a new nation-wide campaign from the Tanzania Tourist Board, the Lion Recovery Fund and WildAid asks communities to “Be The Pride” as lions are vital to the 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, Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board. “As a nation, we need to ensure that our lions thrive for generations to come.”
The Swahili and English campaign urges Tanzanians to ask their local and national leaders to enact policy 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 organizations are pioneering systems that ensure people and wildlife are seeing benefits from keeping lions alive.
A new website, Bethepride.com, offers the public multiple ways to engage with lion conservation, encouraging them to use a Tweet tool embedded on the campaign website. Other content includes a series of social media videos called “Unsung Heroes,” which spotlights the men and women working tirelessly to protect lions; and a public service announcement featuring several prominent Tanzanians, including the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla, singer-songwriter Ben Pol and business mogul Mohammed Dewji.
Home to 40% of the world’s remaining wild lions, Tanzania has long been considered a leader in lion conservation. However, the lion’s survival is threatened by a number of factors – 60% of them live outside of protected areas, where they are vulnerable to habitat loss, conflict with humans, and the bushmeat trade. Across Africa, the number of wild lions has halved in just the last 20 years to about 20,000.
Despite 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.
Sustainable and ethical tourism can help protect lions. The tourism industry accounts for 17% of the country’s GDP, or $2.4 billion, most of which is driven by the country’s wildlife-rich parks like the Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro Crater.
“When tourists come on safari to Tanzania, they always expect to see a lion” said Mdachi. “And they usually do because today our parks hold nearly half of the continent’s population of wild lions.”
Peter Lindsey, Director of Lion Recovery Fund, said: “These are assets that Tanzanians should rightly feel incredibly proud of. However in Tanzania, as elsewhere, lions and other wildlife are almost certainly declining in number and distribution, and are extremely vulnerable to a wide range of human threats. Tanzania’s lions and wildlife landscapes need support now to help shield them from the human pressures and threats facing them. If Tanzania chooses to invest in the protection of lions and other wildlife, and keeps setting aside the wilderness blocks on which they depend, future generations will benefit from their existence in perpetuity.”
“Tanzania is in the enviable position of having a significant number of lions remaining,” said Susie Watts, Africa Program Director of WildAid. “So now is the perfect time for the general public to recognize the value of these animals and voice its support for their protection. This new campaign will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the lion’s survival.”
We’d like to thank various partners and organizations for their generosity in helping us with this campaign. They are: Coastal Aviation, Alex Walker’s Serian, JCDecaux, Chris Schmid, Ruaha Carnivore Project, Kope Lion, Tarangire Lion Research Initiative, African People & Wildlife, ADN Media, ITV, TV1, Radio 7, TBC, Mbeya Highlands FM, and Star Times.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $230 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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