wilderness wildlife trustWilderness Safaris and the Wilderness Wildlife Trust have facilitated US$360 000 in funding from lifestyle brand, PUMA, towards wild cat conservation organisation, Panthera.

A small portion of this funding has already been used to survey the status of lions in the more than two million hectare Kafue National Park in Zambia. An expanded initiative, resulting from this initial investigation, will now focus on renewing the anti-poaching programme in the park.

Together with financial and logistical support from PUMA and Wilderness Safaris, Panthera will work with the Zambia Wildlife Authority and local NGO, Game Rangers International, to help support, and expand law enforcement activities by the local wildlife authorities in the park.

Zambia is one of just nine countries in Africa that is home to more than 1 000 lions. However, research shows that illegal bush meat hunting is pervasive in Kafue. “To the many visitors to 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,” said Panthera President, Luke Hunter.

“Thanks to the support of PUMA, we can invest the resources to begin stamping out the poaching of lions and their prey in Kafue,” said Hunter.

“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,” said Russel Friedman of the Wilderness Wildlife Trust. “Understanding the bush meat trade and offering sustainable alternatives to the local people, as well as ensuring that the benefits of ecotourism extend to local communities, are imperative to ensure the park’s sustainability,” he added.

“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,” said Justin DeKoszmovszky, PUMA Global Sustainability Strategy Manager.

From : Tourismupdate.co.za

1 November 2013