Animals

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In early September 2016, the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), together with Panthera, held a workshop to consider future initiatives to conserve the African lion. The topic is urgent because numbers of lions have plummeted over the last century from an oft quoted figure of around 200,000 to nowadays closer to 20,000 and falling. The workshop, prompted by global attention given to the death of Cecil the Lion, who had been tracked for years by WildCRU, is the Cecil Summit. The Summit culminated with an open session offering the opportunity to hear the views of top lion experts and also a variety of innovative thinkers from fields such as economics, development, international relations and ethics.

About WildCRU: David Macdonald founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in 1986 at the University of Oxford. Now the foremost University-based centre for biodiversity conservation, the mission of the WildCRU is to achieve practical solutions to conservation problems through original research. WildCRU is particularly renowned for its work with wild carnivores, especially wild cats, including its long-running studies on lion and clouded leopard. Its training centre for early-career conservationists, so far from 32 countries, produces experts and future leaders in global conservation.

About Panthera: founded in 2006, Panthera is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours.

LetLionsLive.org

The Cecil Summit, hosted this week by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, has outlined an emboldened commitment and path forward to address the conservation crisis facing Africa’s lions.

Honoring the global outpouring of outrage and recognition that accompanied the death of the now legendary lion known as Cecil, the Summit assembled some of the world’s leading lion biologists alongside influential experts from the fields of international policy, law enforcement, economics, ethics, law and other sectors.

Together, this brain trust of conservation specialists explored the complex and varied issues affecting the international mosaic of lion conservation, and the innovative solutions required to secure a future for both lions and their landscapes, as well as the people of Africa.

WildCRU Director David Macdonald stated, “Lion conservation has the world’s attention as never before. The Cecil Summit is a continuation of an evolving discussion with members of Africa’s nation states who must be part of the solution to save our global heritage.”

Cecil Summit participants produced a five-point declaration, with the goal of forming the foundation of a renewed path forward for lion conservation.

Restoring Lionscapes: Reinstating the economic and social value of lions across their African landscapes in perpetuity.

Inspiring National Communities: Increasing the pride of local people for their lions and establishing fairness in conservation practices.

Inspiring a Global Community: Increasing international interest in lion conservation and mobilizing financial resources on its behalf.

Enacting the Robin Hood Model: Harnessing members of the global community with the greatest interest and financial resources to support conservation in lion range states.

Financing Lion Conservation: Accelerating the governmental and multi-national engines of financial support required to assist African nations to save the lion.

On behalf of WildCRU and Panthera, WildCRU Director David Macdonald addressed members of the Cecil Summit, media and general public at the closing Summit panel Wednesday to share this declaration. View the recorded session here.

Former editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, moderated a discussion amongst panel participants on the complexities of the international conservation frontier. Contributors included Director General of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner, leading lion biologist Craig Packer, UK Minister of State at the Department for International Development Rory Stewart and Panthera founder and historic WildCRU benefactor, Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan. The panel was launched with a message from Edmond Moukala, UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s Africa Unit Chief.

Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Luke Hunter, shared, “The Cecil Summit underscores the fact that compelling solutions and enormous opportunities to save the lion are within our grasp. Over 1 million square kilometers of lion range are already legally protected but those areas need massive support to truly thrive. Equally, the people that live with lions need to enjoy more benefits from protected areas and have access to new incentives that foster conservation on their own lands.”

Hunter continued, “Conservation and human prosperity are inter-twined in Africa. If we can secure these parks and reserves, we ensure not only the lion’s future but also the future of local people whose livelihoods are directly linked to tourism and other economic opportunities that result.”

Now famous the world over, Cecil the lion was studied through the Hwange Lion Project in Zimbabwe for eight years before his tragic death in 2015 outside of Hwange National Park. Today, the project lives on under the operation of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), with support from Panthera.

Emboldened by the urgency of the African lion conservation crisis, WildCRU and Panthera resolved to utilize the momentum from the death of Cecil to arouse a Cecil Movement. As the world has learned, the lion is in need of conservation attention now more than ever, with an estimated 20,000 individuals remaining across the entire African continent, a number which represents a decline of 90% over the last century.

Panthera Founder and WildCRU benefactor, Dr. Thomas Kaplan, shared, “The Summit holds the potential to mark an extraordinary turning point for lion conservation. As the participants showed, the land and people are there to save lions. What is needed is will…and commitment. By combining the insights of the broadest array of thinkers and stakeholders in the field, from practitioners on the ground in Africa to government figures, there’s hope that the voice that was given to Cecil and his species may yet turn into a roar.”

Preceding the Cecil Summit, Panthera, WildAid and WildCRU released a new lion report outlining the ongoing threats contributing to the conservation crisis facing lions. Read the report, entitled Beyond Cecil: Africa’s Lions in Crisis, and learn about the #LetLionsLive campaign at letlionslive.org.

Panthera’s Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more.

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In Nat Geo WILD’s first digital series, wildlife filmmaker Bertie Gregory journeys to the Pacific Northwest in search of the elusive coastal wolves that inhabit one of the last places on the planet where a wild forest meets a wild ocean.

In the first episode of wild_life with Bertie Gregory, Bertie heads to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where he prepares to spend three months in the wild filming the epic animals that call this place home. While he’s hoping to come across the many awesome species that inhabit this coastline, his main goal is to catch a glimpse of the island’s elusive coastal wolves. Along the way, Bertie runs into some surprising locals, from bald eagles to bears, sea lions to salmon and otters to orca. Every encounter will be a new adventure.

Watch new episodes: http://natgeowild.com/wild/wildlife

Follow Bertie’s adventures: https://www.instagram.com/bertiegregory/

Nature Roars Back

Our generation lives in the here and now. So, reaching people means we need to connect the here and now to issues that at a glance seem long-term or ineffectual on a local level. These sentiments echo the words of US President Barack Obama in an interview for the docuseries Years of Living Dangerously.

This is also a paramount goal for National Geographic, who believe in cross-platform education which inspires the most curious minds with an expanding canvas to grow and reach people in new ways. NG Live is the on ground extension supporting the societies 128-year legacy, upholding innovation and visual story-telling as the foremost touchpoint for people to connect with the challenges facing our planet.

Best known for his award-winning wildlife documentaries, Bob Poole is in Australia this week to present the NG Live event Nature Roars Back. Offering audiences the opportunity to explore Bob’s Africa, a place where nature is resilient and people play a vital part in that resurgence. Conversation is part of what makes the Live event such a powerful tool for conservation—it speaks to the curiosity of children, the concerns of parents, the interest of entrepreneurs, the inspiration of artists.

Bob’s penetrating insights and captivating enthusiasm draw out people’s natural curiosity, encouraging them to seek and see natures destiny as unwritten, full of potential, wonder and intertwined in our own story.

Tourism, Bob says is a crucial element of re-wilding Africa—“Getting people to visit” that is the inspiration Bob wants audiences to leave with. He knows that for people to care they first need to connect—to see what’s working, how their support impacts nature and be inspired by that change.

Nature Roars Back is full of intrepid inspiration…

Hear daring tales of elephant rescue and the rebuilding of trust between man and animals devastated by war, as Bob and a team of scientists battle to re-wild Africa’s lost Eden: Gorongosa.

In one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects, he’ll share the secrets of the “Gorongosa code”— and a man’s brave journey of discovery and redemption filming the spectacular wildlife of a paradise once lost.

Join the acclaimed cinematographer and filmmaker, live on stage, for unforgettable images and stories of Gorongosa’s majestic animals—and learn how the wild places we’ve broken can be put back together.

From screen to stage the amazing encounters, heartfelt accounts and thrilling adventures of Emmy-winning filmmaker Bob Poole, literally come to life in this unique look at the rebirth of Africa’s last wilderness.

Want to know the coolest custom-bits of the Bob Mobile?

Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Bob in the next issue of Bare Essentials.

Melbourne • Arts Centre Melbourne • Wednesday 10 August
Sydney • Sydney Opera House • Friday 19 August
Perth • State Theatre Centre of WA • Sunday 21 August
Adelaide • Adelaide Festival Centre • Wednesday 24 August

Bookings: www.natgeolive.org/australia

Explore Bob’s World www.bobpoolefilms.com and @bobpoolefilms

Spread the word #BobPooleFilms

Art Wolfe talks about the incredible photographic opportunities the Galápagos Islands provided, after wrapping up back to back workshops in May 2016, teaching alongside Tom Mangelsen and Frans Lanting. This Masters of Nature Photography workshop was organized by Justin Black of Visionary Wild, and the next combined event will be South Georgia and the Falklands in November 2016. Documentary by Yuri Choufour.

www.artwolfe.com
www.visionarywild.com