Public Statement of the second African Lion Working Group Workshop
The African Lion Working group is a professional working group with as members, individuals who are actively involved in field research and conservation of the African lion. The ALWG is affiliated with the IUCN Cat specialist group and has a science based approach to conservation. The African Lion Working Group (ALWG) organised a workshop in Etosha National Park, on 10-11 February 2012, which was attended by 30 members and a number of observers (Namibian authorities, media and park staff). The ALWG brought out a public statement on which this newsletter item is based. The ALWG acknowledges that the lion is an emblematic and charismatic species, which as a top predator can be considered a keystone species.
The ALWG also suggested that the lion conservation community needs to find the most effective ways to both make and spend money for lion conservation. It is realised that the finance of lion conservation and habitat conservation is a crucial factor of success Although, non-monetary motivations are sometimes at least equally important. The ALWG emphasised the importance of increasing lion-related benefits and mitigation/compensation in case of land conversion. Considering that habitat encroachment is still a primary threat to lions, attention was given to land use planning as an instrument to mitigate this threat by increasing transparency and by explicitly looking for synergies where possible and making sensible trade-offs between all legitimate forms of land use, including wildlife, agro-industry, subsistence and mining. Translocation of large carnivores is often based on good intentions, but with little or no idea of the impact on translocated animals or source populations. Simply moving the problem along with the animal to another area is not sufficient argument for translocation.
While captive breeding can be potentially useful for preserving a species’ genetic diversity, it was felt by the ALWG members that the captive breeding that South African breeders are presently undertaking is not conducive to deliver that goal. Delegates agreed that canned lion hunting has direct and indirect relevance to conservation of wild lions; consensus was that it is unattractive no matter how it is regulated and it should actively be discouraged.
The majority of delegates felt that well-regulated hunting could potentially contribute to lion and habitat conservation, but at present such a contribution is thought to be insufficiently substantiated. The ALWG suggested that the IUCN lion conservation strategies have also been insufficiently implemented and, short of a formal evaluation, consensus was that goals are not being met at all. In order to offer effective lion conservation the W&C Africa regional strategy needs to move forward, and national action plans put in place, possibly in conjunction with current efforts on African wild dog and cheetah in the region.
For reading the entire communiqué click here