Scope of West- and Central African Lion network
Large Carnivore Initiative West & Central Africa (LCI-W&C AFRICA) intends to build on the success of the regional Lion Conservation Network for West- and Central Africa (ROCAL) and to recruit new members in currently unrepresented countries in West- and Central Africa. The LCI W&C AFRICA will not only focus on lions but will expand its scope to other large carnivores such as leopard (Panthera pardus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), spotted hyena (Crocutta crocutta), striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), which are exposed to similar threats as the lion and thus need similar protection measures. Cheetah and African wild dog are extinct in most of their range and only small scattered populations survive in large protected areas. Leopard and hyena species are heavily persecuted by livestock owners and regularly shot, poisoned or caught in snares.
Regional and National Conservation Strategies
In 2005, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) organised a Range Wide Priority Setting exercise for the lion in two workshops which were reported in two lion strategy documents. These strategy documents showed a large recent reduction in lion range, with currently between 23,000 and 40,000 lions left of which only 10% occur in West- and Central Africa (around 3,000 lions). Lions in West- and Central Africa have been classified as “Regionally Endangered“ and show a strong decline in numbers. Indiscriminate killing as appears to be the most serious threat and presumably most of this killing is retaliatory or pre-emptive killing by pastoralists. Prey depletion is almost equally threatening, followed by small population size and its inherent extinction risks.
In this context, the implementation of the Lion Conservation Strategy for West- and Central Africa as well as the National Lion Conservation Action plans has been important instruments for the improvement of lion conservation strategies. The development and implementation of these Lion Conservation Strategies are also important for other large carnivores in the region of West- and Central Africa, such as the leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, striped hyena and the African wild dog.
It is the first time that conservation efforts for large carnivores will be bundled in the region of West- and Central Africa. Until recent, conservation efforts were mainly focussed on lions, whereas work on other carnivores occurred on a very small scale by conservation groups that worked in isolation and were not coordinated through a central institution. The LCI W&C AFRICA will result in mutual strengthening of conservation efforts in the region.
The actions planned in the near future are:
- The organisation of the launch of the LCI-W&C AFRICA during a regional large carnivore workshop organised on 3 and 4 November 2010 in Maroua, North Cameroon and the organisation of annual scientific workshops.
- The exchange of information between partners through the website and e-mail communication on fundraising opportunities and the promotion of the protection of large carnivores in West- and Central Africa through responsible management, responsible eco-tourism, local income generation and mitigation of conflicts.
- The launch of media campaigns for the general public supporting the promotion of the protection of large carnivores in West- and Central Africa through responsible management, responsible eco-tourism, local income generation and mitigation of conflicts.
- To launch lobby campaigns to inform and create awareness among policy makers and governments on the threats faced by the large carnivores in West- and Central Africa and on conservation action needed to protect them.