African wildlife conservation is facing an immense challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, three of Uganda's national parks—Murchison Falls, Kidepo, and Queen Elizabeth—are home to small yet important populations of African lions that are currently threatened by habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and poaching. While the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other local and international conservation organizations are doing their best to ensure the protection of lions in these critical wildlife habitats, the current shortage of necessary funding could result in further ecological damage, even after life returns to normal and tourism reopens.
Lions are both an iconic and a keystone species, helping ecosystems function properly, not to mention the only truly social feline in the Panthera genus. In that spirit, and as someone that has dedicated many years researching and engaging in on-the-ground lion conservation, I am holding a small fundraiser in the hopes of donating proceeds directly to lion protective efforts in Uganda. Funds will specifically go to Uganda's Big Cats Program, which is overseen by Dr. Luke Hunter, a trusted conservation colleague whose dedicated Ugandan staff works in all three national parks to secure a future for Africa's largest feline. This includes money for GPS/radio-tracking collars, research staff funding, lion-proof cattle bomas (enclosures) to protect people and their livestock, and more.
While there are many important fundraisers being held to help many people during this time of great need, I'm hoping that people won't forget the threatened and endangered species that we share our amazing world with. Even a small donation of $5 or $10 can go a long way in making a real difference.
Please consider donating to help Uganda's lions and the habitats they live in. For more information about my work and lifelong passion for Panthera leo, please visit http://www.michaelwschwartz.com.
- Michael Schwartz
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