People may think that African wildlife is already facing enough threat from climate change or illegal trafficking, but the continent’s preserves are facing up to USD$2 billion in funding shortfalls that threaten protected areas.
That’s according to Peter Lindsey, director of the Lion Recovery Fund and co-author of new research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the United States. The research looked at 282 state-owned parks across Africa in 2015, and used the status of lions as a proxy for other wildlife.
“Without a major increase in funding, we can expect severe ongoing declines in lions and other wildlife species even inside Africa’s parks and reserves,” said Lindsey.
That’s not good news because lion populations are already in trouble and occupy just 8 percent of what was once their historic range. Their ability to survive on conservation lands depends on how well those areas are managed, and what kind of resources and community support are available. Right now, less than a third of the protected areas are supporting even half of the potential lion population they can.
The funding needs are based on an equation created by lion biologist Craig Packer, who found $2,000 was needed for each square kilometer, that was then refined for the study. The authors found many parks running at a deficit, while noting the benefits to the economy and climate change that protected areas represent.
“In modern Africa, if wildlife and habitats are not actively protected, they invariably fall foul of human pressures, ranging from poaching, illegal livestock incursions, land grabs, illegal logging and mining,” Lindsey said.
Tourism is already worth $34 billion to the continent, but the value doesn’t end there. In Central African Republic, operations at the Chinko wildlife area make it the largest employer in the country outside of Bangui. Meanwhile, Chyulu Hills in Kenya provides a key fresh water supply for the coastal city of Mombasa.
To see the full PNAS article check the link here.
Image: Queen Elizabeth NP, Uganda