Every four years the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) organises the World Conservation Congress (WCC). This year it was in September and took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. For 10 days, more than 10,000 participants participated in various events, such as central meetings, discussion groups and workshops. Topics varied from organised poaching to educational models and opportunities for involvement for indigenous people.
Two representatives of the Leo Foundation co-organised a side event that called for attention for the lion and other West- and Central African biodiversity. At the WCC in 2012 a motion on this topic was accepted at the WCC in 2012, resulting in the preparation of a “situational analysis” for this region, which confirmed that the region is not only home to a unique biodiversity, but that the numbers of species is rapidly declining in many areas. To bring this decline to a halt, a session was organised in which was called for a “Species Action Plan” for West and Central Africa. Through this platform activities in the region can more easily be coordinated and fundraising better streamlined. This initiative was fully supported by all participants and the first steps for a follow-up have already been set.
Besides this event, lions were also mentioned in a session on the use of genetic data in nature conservation. Showing that lions and other savannah species in West and Central Africa form a unique group, thus enhancing the need for their conservation. Finally, there was attention for lions in sessions that our foundation was not actively involved in, such as the role on trophy hunting in southern Africa and the increase in illegally traded lion bones.
After an inspiring congress, we hope to take further steps to preserve stable lion populations in the whole of Africa.