On World Lion Day (the 10th August), it’s great to announce a really exciting piece of news for wildlife conservation.
There’s a really fantastic opportunity for business to make a difference and have a real impact on wildlife.
Drum roll please for….. The Lion’s Share Fund!
You may have heard of The Lion’s Share. If you haven’t, let me tell you more. It’s an initiative which is aiming to transform the lives of animals around the world by asking advertisers to contribute a percentage of their media spend to conservation and animal welfare projects.
I am really excited by this initiative. The hope is that $100 million a year will be raised within 3 years. The money will be invested in a range of animal conservation and animal welfare programmes, to be implemented by the UN and civil society organisations.
The Lion’s Share is working to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are aiming to end poverty and project the planet. Goal 14, Life Underwater and Goal 15, Live on Land, involve supporting animals and helping to conserve their key habitat.
The UNDP (that’s the United Nations Development Programme) will host the fund. A joint steering committee will take decisions on priority programmes. Money raised will go into creative, game-changing solutions which focus on achieving real impact for the animals and their habitats.
Ambitious for sure - but if the top 10 advertisers alone were to participate, this would bring in a staggering $47m each year alone!
Partners in the fund will contribute 0.5% of their media spent to the fund for every advert they use which has an animal in it.
And cartoon animals will count as well. So if your company has an ad with a cartoon animal in it, they can participate!
Mars is the first advertising partner. It will sit on the executive and steering committees of The Lion’s Share and encourage other businesses to get involved.
Worldwide advertising network BBDO and leading measurement and data analytics company Nielsen are also involved. BBDO is contributing the benefit of its experience in advertising, whilst Nielsen will ensure that companies are contributing correctly.
The Lion’s Share Fund has a website, and a very helpful FAQ page. This answers a number of questions which spring to mind – how can we be sure the money goes to where it should, for instance. (Nielsen will watch that side of things like a hawk.) And 93% of the funds raised will go to the animals that need it.
Rob Galluzzo, founder of FINCH, initiated the idea with Christopher Nelius, a film director. Galluzzo says that 9 out of 10 of the most popular animals seen in commercials are endangered or threatened and they don’t always get the support they deserve.
FINCH have partnered with Clemenger BBDO to bring this initiative to life.
The fund was launched in Cannes at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, by UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who said quite rightly that it is our responsibility as people to safeguard all life on our planet. Coster-Waldau plays Jamie Lannister in the Games of Thrones.
So how can you help?
Well, if I see an advert with an animal in it, I'm going to let the advertising company know about the The Lion’s Shares Fund. It was only launched recently in June 2018, so they may not know of it yet.
I've got to say, I just love Ecosia. They're a search engine and I use it a lot to have a good rummage around the internet.
It's a simple formula - you search, they plant trees and it doesn't cost you a penny :-) Ecosia uses 100% of its profits to plant trees where they're needed most. So far over 34 million trees have been planted and Ecosia are aiming to plant one BILLION. It's a journey I'm really to help with, and it's so good to see that many people are joining in as well.
The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body. And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).
In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.
Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.
So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands. These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened). The swampy areas have Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.
Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case. It’s in danger. Why? Well, the human race is at it again.
Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
Above average deforestation rate
And action is needed urgently. Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.
Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International. It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.
Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.
Creating a national park to keep the area safe
The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities. Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province. And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.
Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.
Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.
And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success. So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.
And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.
The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:
An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected. It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.
As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment. I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there.
Raising funds to support the project
In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’. The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti. Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.
The 2018 project is an ambitious one. A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism. And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at?
BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.