MORE ON WORLD LION DAY 2019
For World Lion Day, we’re focusing on the first of our Lionscapes, as we strive to raise awareness of the decline in lion numbers, and inspire positive action to aid in the species’ recovery.
At 2.25 million hectares, Kafue National Park is one of Africa’s largest protected areas. Despite its enormous size, its wildlife in general – with lion in particular – are under threat from poaching and other forms of human activities. Wilderness Safaris is privileged to operate in the Busanga Plans, a 75 000-hectare mosaic of wetlands, grasslands and tree islands situated in Kafue’s remote north.
In 2006, we took a leap of faith and began establishing our brand of ecotourism in this area, with the opening of our Shumba and Busanga Bush Camps. In 2010, Neil Midlane, now Wilderness’ Group Sustainability Manager, began his PhD work on the lions of Kafue, showing that high levels of illegal bushmeat poaching are limiting the populations of ungulates, which in turn limits the ability of the park’s lion population to reach its full potential.
Kafue is therefore a great example of the concept of a “Lionscape” – essentially, if the lion population here is growing and thriving, it means that lion prey is abundant, and if prey is abundant, it means that the ecosystem is well-protected and functional. Shumba and Busanga Bush Camp are thus perfect examples of Lionscape Camps, where through our focus on conserving lion, the ecosystem of the wild area is protected in turn.
Through these camps, we have established a year-round law enforcement presence by providing logistical and financial support to local anti-poaching initiatives since our arrival – some through the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.
Today, through our partnership with NGO Panthera and with the help of Lion Recovery Fund’s Kafue Project, anti-poaching efforts have increased tremendously. We’ve also been able to help support Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, providing a deployment base and logistical support to their teams.
All of these efforts combine to secure a critical Lionscape, and the “circle of life” required to sustain this majestic species.
Next week, we’ll talk about Dr Flip Stander and our Lionscape camp, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. Before that though, National Geographic Channel is screening Vanishing Kings: Desert Lions of Namib I on World Lion Day at the following times: 08:35; 12:30; 21:15 CAT.