New York, NY – Panthera, the leading wild cat conservation organization, has launched a new
initiative to protect lions in Kafue National Park (KNP) with support from PUMA, the renowned sports company, and premier African ecotourism operator, Wilderness Safaris.
PUMA has committed $360,000 through 2015 to Panthera’s new anti-poaching initiative in Kafue National Park (KNP) – Zambia’s largest protected area and one of the most important national parks in Africa. Panthera, together with PUMA and Wilderness Safaris, will work with the Zambia Wildlife Authority and a local NGO, Game Rangers International, to help support and expand law enforcement activities by local wildlife authorities in KNP. Outfitting and expanding anti-poaching units will be the priority, alongside improving law enforcement monitoring to allow tracking of illegal activities, evaluation of the success of enforcement efforts and optimal deployment of resources for conservation.
"PUMA is inspired by the agility and speed of all big cats,” said Justin DeKoszmovszky, PUMA Global Sustainability Strategy Manager. "We are happy to support this new initiative by Panthera to help protect local biodiversity in Kafue National Park as part of our ongoing commitment to environmental protection."
Zambia is one of just nine countries in Africa home to more than 1,000 lions. However, research by Panthera Kaplan Graduate Awards Scholar and University of Cape Town PhD student, Neil Midlane, has confirmed that illegal bushmeat hunting is pervasive in Kafue. Widespread and indiscriminate snaring of lions and their prey has potentially devastating effects on the region’s wildlife. Due to their extensive home ranges and habit of scavenging carcasses from snare lines, lions are extremely susceptible to bushmeat poaching. In the dry seasons of 2010-2012 alone, Midlane and his team observed at least 15 lions carrying snares. Fortunately, most of these were immobilized and successfully treated by the Zambia Wildlife Authority and local NGOs, although at least one lioness lost dependent cubs as a result of her injuries.
“We are deeply committed to supporting Panthera’s anti-poaching initiative to ensure the ongoing biodiversity and protection of all species within Kafue National Park. It is a vital part of our ecotourism operation in Kafue’s Busanga Plains Concession to ensure that our conservation efforts work hand-in-hand with the long-term preservation of the communities surrounding the Park. Understanding the bushmeat trade and offering sustainable alternatives to the local people, as well as ensuring that the benefits of ecotourism extend to local communities is imperative to ensure the Park’s sustainability,” said Russel Friedman of the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.
The study also found that bushmeat hunting has depressed the park’s prey populations, which limits the ability of lionesses to raise cubs and hampers population recovery. Panthera’s President and one of Midlane’s PhD advisors,Dr. Luke Hunter, explained, “To the many visitors of Africa’s great game parks, it is unthinkable that the lion is in trouble. But lions have vanished from 80% of their historic range in Africa alone, and many of the remaining populations are verging on extinction. Thanks to the support of PUMA, we can invest the resources to begin stamping out the poaching of lions and their prey in Kafue. True to its big cat logo, PUMA is a model for turning global business success into conservation outcomes.”
Today, Panthera focuses heavily on addressing the impacts of poaching on lions, leopards and cheetahs across Africa. In 2012, led by Dr. Peter Lindsey, Panthera convened a gathering of experts on the bushmeat trade in African savannas to reach consensus on the drivers and impacts of the trade, and the solutions required to combat it. Read the report from this workshop, Illegal Hunting and the Bush-MeatTrade in Savanna Africa: Drivers, Impacts and Solutions to Address the Problem,presented to South African Development Community state wildlife agencies. The new program in Kafue is an example of taking the report’s recommendations and converting them to much needed action, the cornerstone of Panthera’s bushmeat program. Learn more at Panthera’s Project Leonardo.
PUMA is one of the world’s leading Sportlifestyle companies that designs and develops footwear, apparel and accessories. It is committed to working in ways that contribute to the world by supporting Creativity, SAFE Sustainability and Peace, and by staying true to the principles of being Fair, Honest, Positive and Creative in decisions made and actions taken. PUMA starts in Sport and ends in Fashion. Its Sport Performance and Lifestyle labels include categories such as Football, Running, Motorsports, Golf and Sailing. Sport Fashion features collaborations with renowned designer labels such as Alexander McQueen and Mihara Yasuhiro. The PUMA Group owns the brands PUMA, Cobra Golf and Tretorn. The company, which was founded in 1948, distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs about 11,000 people worldwide and has headquarters in Herzogenaurach/Germany, Boston, London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit http://www.puma.com
About Wilderness Safaris
Wilderness Safaris is an ecotourism company that specialises in memorable wildlife experiences in some of the most remote and pristine areas in Africa. In this way it offers its guests private access to three million hectares of Africa’s finest wildlife reserves, while remaining fiercely committed to protecting our planet’s precious natural and cultural resources. Recognising that conservation is as much about people as about the environment, the company has pursued important goals through its Children in the Wildernessprogramme, as well as through the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, which have helped change the face of nature-based tourism in Africa. Visit www.wilderness-safaris.com