Lion’s Share offers lifeline for wildlife tourism communities as COVID-19 jeopardizes conservation globally


new York The Lion’s Share today announced new grants to support communities dependent on wildlife-based tourism – an industry that employs millions of people and is essential to the conservation of wildlife around the world, but which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will fund local projects in nine countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to build the resilience of communities in wildlife-rich areas and support the protection of endangered wildlife in their remaining strongholds.

These initial grants, which total $ 400,000 and are issued in partnership with the GEF Small Grants Program, mark the first upcoming investments of The Lion’s Share’s COVID-19 response – an award-winning initiative led by the Program. United Nations Development (UNDP) coalition and a coalition of companies and UN partners, which calls on brands to contribute 0.5% of their media spend every time an animal image is featured in their advertising.

Following a call for proposals in April, The Lion’s Share received more than 1,600 applications from nonprofits working in critical wildlife areas. The appeals for help detail the loss of jobs and income, the loss of funding for conservation projects, the increase in poaching and widespread food insecurity. The Lion’s Share will continue to raise up to $ 3 million to fund the top 40 selected projects.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, wildlife tourism generated $ 343.6 billion and supported over 21.8 million jobs in 2018. Through wildlife tourism, communities benefit directly from wildlife, which enables them to develop businesses and generate much-needed jobs and income. Encouraged to protect wildlife and its habitats, they have become valuable guardians of nature on the front lines of conservation. However, travel restrictions to slow the pandemic have exhausted economic lifelines for hundreds of millions of people and conservation activities in areas rich in wildlife. Iconic species such as rhinos, elephants, gorillas, sea turtles, tigers, sharks and pangolins face unprecedented threats.

Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, said: “The spread of COVID-19 is a socio-economic, environmental and governance crisis as much as a health crisis – a stark reminder that human health and well-being are intrinsically linked to health and well-being. -being of our planet. We will recover from this crisis, but we must seize this opportunity to rebuild a more equal, inclusive, sustainable, safer and healthier planet. By leveraging the power of partnerships, The Lion’s Share has been able to not only raise funds for conservation and wildlife, but also engage businesses and consumers on this pressing issue.

Today’s announcement follows the UN Secretary-General’s call to transform the tourism sector to become more resilient, inclusive and sustainable, warning that the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism are threatening to increase poverty and inequality, as well as to reverse nature Conservation efforts. Indeed, the top 40 proposals selected for funding highlight that the most common threats communities face are loss of jobs and income (100 percent of proposals), increased poaching and overfishing ( 95 percent) and increased habitat destruction (95 percent).

COVID-19 economic recovery

To help their socio-economic recovery, grants from The Lion’s Share will fund local projects that build community resilience through the development of skills and alternative sources of income, including cheese making in the snow leopard steppe in Mongolia, sustainable fish farming in Zambia, permaculture training in Nepal and beekeeping in Uganda. Twenty of the 40 projects include actions that directly engage and benefit women’s cooperatives, indigenous stewardship and youth activities, promoting the inclusion of marginalized groups, for whom tourism has been a vector of integration and development. empowerment. Alternative sources of income, like creating virtual tours in Bhutan, would not only connect travelers with nature, but would also help maintain communities’ confidence in tourism and conservation, develop digital skills and promote tourism. innovation and the use of technology in the tourism ecosystem. .

The first nine projects also include: Virtual Safaris, Permaculture Gardens and Elephant-Human Conflict Reducing Chilean Fences in Namibia; supporting the Black Mambas – the world’s first all-female anti-poaching unit – in beekeeping and permaculture to reduce human-elephant conflict in South Africa; Sustainable agriculture and natural medicinal knowledge to support the indigenous Achuar community in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador; and Sea Turtle Anti-Poaching Rangers, and Community Livelihoods & Education in Sri Lanka.

The 40 project sites support species at risk, and more than half of all projects are based in locations where multiple threatened and critically endangered species are present. Almost a quarter of the projects are located in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves or World Heritage sites, internationally recognized for their importance as conservation priorities. Investing in these crucial wildlife areas and supporting jobs and livelihoods in these local communities promotes green growth. They address future economic risks by helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss; safeguarding natural ecosystem services, such as drinking water, crop pollination, etc. and reduce the risk of the emergence of new zoonotic diseases with the potential to become pandemics.

“We are extremely grateful for the support offered by the Lion’s Share,” said Dr Michelle Henley, Co-Founder, CEO and Principal Investigator Elephants Alive – one of the funding recipients. “This grant will allow us to strengthen the skills of the Black Mamba anti-poaching unit to raise bees and cultivate permaculture, so that these women who are critically involved in protecting our wildlife can supplement the income they have. so much needed. This proof of concept in South Africa will then be implemented in vital elephant corridors, ensuring that living with elephants can be seen as a bonus and not a burden on local people. Over the past 100 years, we have lost 97% of Africa’s continental elephant population. How lonely it would be for our children if there were no more elephants. When we protect elephants, we protect habitats and a multitude of other species in the process, and in turn, our planet. “

The first nine projects funded by The Lion’s Share COVID-19 Response Grants are:

Virtual safaris, permaculture gardens and elephant-human conflict reducing chili fences by Namibia

Black Mambas: bees, permaculture and conflict reduction between humans and elephants South Africa

Sustainable agriculture and natural medicinal knowledge in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador

Anti-poaching marine turtle rangers, community livelihoods and education in Sri Lanka

· Center for fish farming and solar horticulture in Zambia

Community aquaponics agriculture and virtual tourism in Bhutan

Production of cheese for snow leopard conservation and livelihood improvement in Mongolia

Establish beekeeping around Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda

Agriculture in permaculture and revitalization of local products by Nepal


Media contacts:

Victor Garrido Delgado, UNDP, [email protected]

Christina Pascual, UNDP, [email protected]

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