The Wildlife Conservation Network and Lion Recovery Fund states that ‘Lion populations have declined by half in just a quarter century. Their loss signals the loss of the wild in Africa. But, the lion can return. If Africa’s parks and reserves were resourced and managed effectively and the communities around them were supported, we could have three to four times the number of these big cats as we have today. Recovery is within our grasp. The (LRF) invests in the most innovative and effective projects across Africa that can recover lions and restore their landscapes. The LRF seeks, assesses, and invests in the best ideas for lion recovery from institutions large or small, with 100% of every dollar donated deployed directly on the ground’.
Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN), (LRF) and its partners and will make additional grants as well as invite fans to help double the donation for a total contribution of up to $3 million. Fans may participate by taking part in celebratory experiences and purchasing special-edition products, as part of The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign.
It’s been 25 years since Disney released the original version of The Lion King. Sadly, since then Africa has lost half of these big cats, and only around 20,000 remain. Disney is supporting the LRF and their vision to double the lion population by 2050 through efforts that engage communities to ensure a brighter future for African wildlife and their habitats.
Protecting lions supports the entire circle of life in Africa, from hyenas to meerkats. Lions face rising threats, but research shows their numbers can be strengthened if they and the habitats they share with people and other African wildlife are adequately protected.
Elissa Margolis, senior vice president for enterprise social responsibility for The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement: “Disney is committed to supporting lion conservation efforts and we believe The Lion King is the perfect story to remind us of the role we each have in helping ensure a world where these majestic animals are treasured and protected.
“Conservation has always been a core value of The Walt Disney Company and that commitment is apparent in everything from our films to our theme parks and is why we created the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). Through the stories we tell and the experiences we create, we have the power to reach people around the world and inspire them to take action with us.”
The DCF has directed $75 million to save wildlife globally since 1995, including $13 million to protect African wildlife spanning more than 30 countries. The Lion King Protect the Pride donation will be DCF’s largest single contribution in its 24-year history, supporting WCN’s LRF and their work to engage people in conservation solutions.
The LRF supports a variety of partner organisations working in Africa and employs a three-pronged approach to lion recovery: investing in conservation projects on the ground, developing campaigns that build support for the protection and revitalisation of Africa’s lion populations, and expanding and strengthening collaborations, as no single entity will be able to solve this challenge alone.
As a kickoff to The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign, Disney and WCN convened more than 80 leading lion conservation experts this past May at the Lion Footprint Forum at Walt Disney World® Resort, the first meeting of its kind in 20 years, aimed at expanding collaboration to grow conservation impact.
Participants from 18 countries and representing more than 50 organisations and foundations discussed challenges impacting lion populations and strategies to address them. Resulting ideas and project proposals will be considered for support through the LRF.
Charles Knowles, president and co-founder of Wildlife Conservation Network, said: “The Lion Recovery Fund has a vision to bring lions back across Africa, and Disney’s powerful storytelling is a perfect way to get even more people aware of the lion crisis and inspired to take action.
“The Wildlife Conservation Network is proud to continue its longstanding collaboration with Disney to make a meaningful impact for people and wildlife across Africa.”
Courtesy of The Citizen by Kaunda Selisho