Encompassing diverse ecosystems, Africa’s network of protected areas is home to rare species facing a combination of threats — habitat conversion, poaching, and bush meat consumption are just some of them. While the challenges vary across landscapes, many national parks and reserves struggle to meet their budgetary needs. The financial shortfall is vast — according to McKinsey Group, the budget gap is estimated upwards of $1.7 billion annually for all developing nations. Uganda, for example — despite being one of the top 10 most biodiverse countries in the world — has a $15 million funding gap for protected area management.
Wild lands across Africa are home to rare, threatened, and endangered species of immense value to conservation, contributing to the common heritage of humanity. Recognizing their extraordinary value and to preserve their ecological wealth for future generations, some of these gems of biodiversity are conferred with World Heritage Site status. However, a robust international trade in illegal wildlife parts is decimating keystone wildlife populations while rapid industrialization and climate change are negatively impacting the ecological integrity of these crucial landscapes.
As the only great ape species experiencing a population rise, the mountain gorilla’s recovery is an undeniable conservation success story. But the unprecedented growth poses a challenge for its habitat in the Virunga Mountains: can it sustain the future of this critically endangered species in a rapidly industrializing Africa?
Across the continent, national parks, reserves, and conservation areas have access to a meager total of US $381 million per year to safeguard lions and other wildlife. A landmark analysis of 282 protected areas with lion populations pegs annual resource needs at a minimum of US $1000 - US $2000 per square kilometer. The financial deficit facing Africa’s protected estate is staggering and urgent — wildlife management authorities require approximately US $1.2 to $2.4 billion to adequately secure lions.
In two weeks an AWF delegation will join thousands of people from around the globe in Paris for the 21st Conference of Party on Climate Change. AWF is strongly urging all parties to support a binding and universal agreement on climate change.