From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Claire Martin
In just one year since the release of Disney’s “The Lion King” in 2019, fans like you have helped the Disney Conservation Fund, and collaborators around the world, to make huge strides in protecting lions and their habitats across Africa. As we celebrate World Lion Day today, we’re excited to share some of the progress we have made together toward “protecting the pride,” and healthy landscapes for African wildlife and communities!
As you might recall, in honor of the release of Disney’s “The Lion King” last year, we launched the “Protect the Pride” global conservation campaign, focused on protecting and revitalizing the lion population across Africa by raising awareness and contributing to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund (LRF).
The LRF has directed this support to partner organizations working across Africa with a three-pronged approach to lion recovery: investing in conservation projects on the ground, developing campaigns that support the protection and revitalization of Africa’s lion population, and expanding collaborations among organizations.
To date, Disney’s support has helped the LRF fund 44 lion conservation organizations with 107 projects, spanning 21 African countries. These grants have been disbursed across wildlands containing more than 50 percent of the African lion population, benefitting lions, their habitats and their prey as well as countless human communities involved in the protection of this iconic species!
Here are just a few examples of the projects that we’ve helped the LRF fund:
- Discovering New Prides – In Tanzania, the Ruaha Carnivore Project and the Frankfurt Zoological Society are working with Tanzanian authorities and other partners in the vast Selous/Nyerere ecosystem to examine lion population dynamics in this large wilderness and discover threats to the cats in this key landscape to determine how to best protect the prides there.
- Securing the Last Lions – Panthera is providing funds and equipment for the dedicated rangers in Niokolo-Koba National Park to bolster protection of Senegal’s last population of lions.
Credit: Susan McConnell
- Empowering Communities – SORALO is working with Maasai communities in Kenya to secure safe spaces for lions outside of national parks, promote peaceful coexistence with people and support sustainable, pastoral livelihoods.
- Creating New Parks – In the Central African Republic, African Parks is establishing a new, vast protected landscape around Chinko Nature Reserve to reduce ecosystem degradation and provide the resources for lion prides to grow in the center of the continent. The vastness of this landscape (21,000 square miles) means that the area has arguably greater potential for lion recovery than anywhere else in Africa.
- Reaching Across Boundaries – LRF and Disney are funding collaborations to protect interconnected landscapes for lions to be able to move and thrive, such as the work of Kalahari Research and Conservation and Cheetah Conservation Botswana, who are working with communities to sustainably manage lion habitats and prevent human-lion conflict in Botswana.
Both our Guests and our Cast have been an important part of supporting these achievements, from joining us on Kilimanjaro Safaris during the opening week of Disney’s “The Lion King” film, to the efforts of our cast to provide exceptional care for our pride of lions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, inspiring our guests to learn more about these incredible animals every day.
One of the reasons we were excited to partner with the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund on this important effort was their strong vision to double the wild populations of lions by 2050. We believe that, together with you, we can work toward this vision and ensure the lion’s roar can be heard across Africa for generations to come.
Looking for ways to celebrate lions with your family, or help Protect the Pride?
- Learn more about the Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund
- Help your family get to know the animals that inspired your favorite characters through free activities to try at home in “The Lion King” Activity Packet
- Pick up a copy of The Art and Making of “The Lion King” to learn about Disney Publishing Worldwide’s contribution and Disney’s commitment to conservation
- Be inspired by Simba, Nala and their friends, add “The Lion King” to your movie collection today on Digital and Blu-ray, or stream it on Disney+