Singita has joined forces with three of Africa’s other leading ecotourism operators to launch The Lionscape Coalition.
Together with &Beyond, Wilderness Safaris, Conservation Travel Foundation by Ultimate Safaris, Asilia Africa, Dazzle Africa and Great Plains Conservation Singita is working to secure a future for these big cats and their natural habitat.
In just 25 years, our continent’s lion population has dropped dramatically – only 50% of their numbers now roam Africa’s iconic landscapes, which has prompted the IUCN to officially classify them as a “Vulnerable” species. Habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal wildlife trade, bushmeat poaching and human-lion conflict continue to threaten these big cats. In response to the growing threat of extinction and the profound knock-on effect this could have on biodiversity, the Lionscape Coalition was formed. As apex predators, lions are regarded by scientists as an “umbrella” species; if a wild lion population thrives, it means the entire ecosystem around it is functioning effectively. The health and stability of lion populations have a direct impact on the wellbeing of the surrounding wilderness, which makes their conservation an ecological imperative, as well as an economical one, considering the livelihoods which rely on ecotourism for survival.
The horizon for recovery is bright, however, as a resilient species, lions will rapidly reproduce if their habitats and prey are protected if communities are incentivised to co-exist with them and if poaching can be controlled. By prioritising the conservation of wilderness areas in which lions can flourish and creating healthy “lionscapes” which benefit local communities, the decline of the species can be reversed; their populations, and subsequently many other critical species, will recover.
The Lionscape Coalition sees four commercial competitors, who each share the bold vision of the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) to double wild lion numbers by 2050, collaborate on lion conservation programmes across the continent. Putting all commercial considerations aside, this alliance brings to this initiative over 100 years of positive conservation and community impact throughout Africa.
As the custodian of more than 350,000 acres of the world-renowned Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania – which is home to the Great Migration – the Grumeti Fund is responsible for the reintroduction and recovery of stable wildlife populations, while ensuring that neighbouring rural communities benefit tangibly from these natural areas.
Faced with challenges including uncontrolled illegal hunting, rampant wildfires and spreading strands of invasive alien vegetation when they took over the management of the area in 2003, the Fund dedicated itself to transform severely depleted wildlife numbers into thriving populations once more.
Restoring this once barren and highly degraded region to a flourishing wilderness, their successes include the remarkable recovery of many species – including buffalo, wildebeest and elephant populations, and in 2019, the Fund carried out the largest single relocation and reintroduction of 9 critically endangered Eastern Black Rhino.
The Trust also manages an onsite Environmental Education Centre for school teachers and children to immerse themselves in Outdoor Education and fieldwork, and a world-class culinary school.