BENEFITING: African Wildlife Foundation
Cecil, a beloved 13-year-old lion at Hwange National Park, was killed for sport. Donate Now to help protect lions and other African wildlife from the threat of poaching.
Authorities allege the hunter paid about $55,000 to hunt Cecil. He was lured out of a national park with food, shot with a bow and arrow, tracked for 40 more hours, then finished off with a gun.
Poaching is one of the most pervasive threats to wildlife around the world. Tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos, and many other lesser known species are heavily targeted for their skins, claws, tusks, horns, and other body parts for the illegal wildlife market where they are sold and traded. These horrific crimes are carried out on a grand scale – the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be a $20 billion a year industry, and is causing the drastic declines of wildlife populations across the continent. Africa’s total lion population has declined by 30 percent over the past two decades, and today less than 30,000 of the big cats remain.
“The threat of extinction is very real for African lions,” says African Wildlife Foundation Senior Director of Conservation Science, Dr. Philip Muruthi, adding that lions are extinct in North Africa, severely depleted across West and Central Africa, and now losing ground in their strongholds of East and Southern Africa.
AWF is working in a number of different landscapes to counter these effects. This includes reducing conflict between people and lions by predator-proofing livestock enclosures so lions don’t kill livestock and people don’t kill lions, and supporting the efforts of local projects to develop lion guardian programs and inspire a lion conservation ethic within rural communities. A number of communities across East and Southern Africa are now benefiting from the presence of lions as a result of revenue generated from community-owned luxury lodges on their lands, the construction of which was funded by AWF. In spite of these and other efforts, lions face an uncertain future.