The director of Linton Zoo will be among a team of conservationists hiking to the roof of Africa next Tuesday (January 21).
Kim Simmons and nine others fly out to Tanzania on Sunday (January 19) to prepare for the trek up Mt Kilimanjaro to support the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (EAZA) ‘Pole to Pole’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of climate change impacts on wildlife and inspire people to take action.
Each member is paying for the trip themselves, leaving all money raised through sponsorship and donations to go straight to wildlife conservation.
All of the intrepid climbers are raising money for their own chosen charity.
Kim said: “Everyone is aware of the plight of the highly publicised endangered species like the tiger, gorilla, giant panda etc, but few people are aware just how endangered lions have recently become.
“Lions were once the most widespread mammal on the planet besides man, now they are regionally extinct in many of their previous geographical ranges.
“A recent report shows that West African lions now roam in just 1.1 per cent of their historic range and with less than 250 mature lions of breeding age left they are to be re-classified as critically endangered, although there are concerns the entire population could disappear completely.”
Lions have always been a big part of Kim’s life and one of the closest conservation projects to Kim’s heart is The Lion Guardians who are doing fantastic work out in the field, directly saving the lives of wild lions.
As Kilimanjaro overlooks the areas where The Lion Guardians operate, it feels very appropriate and right that for Linton this climb focuses on raising money to continue supporting the fantastic work the Lion Guardians do in the shadow of Kilimanjaro.
Kim added: “The Lion Guardians approach involves recruiting young non-literate Maasai warriors to become actively engaged in protecting lions rather than killing them.
“Enrollment in the Lion Guardians programme becomes a life-changing experience for these young Maasai, who have had no formal education.
“Taught to read, write and communicate in Swahili and trained in wildlife management and conflict mitigation techniques, the Lion Guardians monitor lion movements, warn locals when lions are in the area, recover lost livestock, reinforce protective fencing and intervene to stop lion hunting parties.
To sponsor Kim, visit www.lintonzoo.com/Kilimanjaro.html call 01223 891308
For all the latest sport see Thursday’s (January 24) Echo.