Recovering Lions in Africa’s Hyper-Biodiverse Heartlands
By Dr. Peter Lindsey, Director of the Lion Recovery Fund
Located in eastern Central African Republic is a wildlife refuge with a violent history, but a bright future. Chinko is one of the wildest places on Earth and holds great promise for lion recovery. The Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) has now issued its largest ever grant, $840,000, to support the work of African Parks in Chinko to protect this vast wilderness for lions and other wildlife.
In addition to this sizable LRF investment, through a partnership with Tusk Trust, this grant immediately unlocked a further $66,000 of matching funding. This level of granting represents a new element of the LRF’s approach. As the LRF has gained momentum, the fund has been able to make gradually more ambitious investments. In 2020, our approach to granting was 3-pronged: a) to continue the broad granting that the LRF has undertaken since our inception; b) to issue COVID-emergency grants to help conservation groups struggling with reduced funding and facing increased conservation threats as a result of the pandemic and c) investing deeply at the sites of greatest potential for lion recovery or that contain the continent’s most significant lion populations. Sites that qualify for deep investments must be of exceptional quality for lion conservation, must have an effective partner with a strong mandate, and must be a situation where LRF funding will add very clear value to the work being undertaken.
There are few, if any, sites with as much potential for lion recovery in Africa than the vast wilderness that comprises Chinko in eastern Central African Republic (CAR). CAR sits at the heart of Africa and has a low human population density, with the effect that vast wilderness areas remain. However, the country has been beset by many years of civil conflict and wildlife populations have been devastated in many areas by armed transhumant herders (a type of pastoralism requiring nomadic seasonal movement) and poachers. These individuals have killed elephants for ivory, carnivores to protect livestock, and a wide range of other wildlife for bushmeat.
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Photography Credit: Jon McCormack, Thierry Aebischer, African Parks, Raffael Hickisch