By Luke Hunter, Chief Conservation Officer of Panthera, Research Associate, University of KwaZulu-Natal Research Fellow; originally published on The Conversation
A billion dollars. That’s approximately what it would cost, to save the African lion. That’s a billion dollars each year, every year into the foreseeable future.
The startling price tag comes from a calculation we did, starting with a new database we compiled of available funding in protected areas with lions. To our knowledge it’s the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of its kind.
Protected areas are the cornerstone of conservation yet we found that most of Africa’s extraordinary parks face grave funding shortfalls. Parks without funding often become protected in name only. Their staff, including the rangers and guards on the frontlines, simply cannot function without funds that pay for working equipment, rations, petrol and to keep the electricity running. Sometimes even salaries go unpaid.
Using the conservation needs of lions as a proxy for wildlife more generally, we compiled a dataset of funding in Africa’s protected areas with lions and estimated a minimum target for conserving the species and managing the areas effectively.