We love what Yvon Chouinard – founder of Patagonia and 1% for the planet – said about being a 1% for the Planet member: “This is not philanthropy. This should be a cost of doing business. It’s paying rent for our use of the planet.”
Leonista joined the 1% for the Planet initiative over a year ago, committing to give 1% of our annual sales to an environmentally sustainable cause. The goal behind our give back campaign was to find the right organisation to collaborate with – one whose goals really aligned with ours - to ensure the most positive environmental impact possible. This was not an easy task – as we spoke to so many deserving causes.
But after much deliberation, we’re excited to announce that we have chosen to support Samara Game Reserve in their environmental initiative to rewild the Karoo. Today, lions are under constant threat - over the past 24 years there has been a staggering 43% decline in their population. Our vision is to support Samara’s lion conservation effort, so that together we can leave the Karoo and the planet in a better place.
Samara is located in the Eastern Cape Great Karoo region and was the first game reserve to reintroduce free-roaming lions into the Plains of Camdeboo, where they used to roam freely some 180 years ago.
Wildlife conservation is one of the key ways to ensure future generations can enjoy the world’s natural beauty and incredible ecosystems. The positive effects of Samara’s rewilding efforts and lion reintroduction are already showing, as leopards and vultures are returning to the area, and jackals are returning to their natural behaviours of scavenging instead of preying on antelope young.
As a member of The Long Run (a community of travel lodges committed to sustainability), the Samara team and their partners are protecting their diverse ecosystems by implementing measures to ensure their positive impact long into the future. This means they’re focusing on the 4Cs: Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce, to conserve their biodiversity and community, to ultimately ensure the long-term survival of the region.
Another reason why Samara’s ‘rewilding of the Karoo’ initiative stood out to us is because of our lion logo and the fact that our quality spirit is made from the agave plant, which grows exclusively in the Karoo region. Both symbolise the energised, strong, and courageous feeling you get when you slowly sip the spirit.
Leonista’s financial contribution will go towards funding the lion collars that help the reserve’s field guides and anti-poaching unit track the lions' movements across the landscape. The VHF frequency on the lion’s collars is important for close monitoring of the lions’ physical condition, growth and pride structure, whilst the GPS function can track location data to gain insight into the lions’ movement across the landscape and prey base. The collars also enable the Samara team to give the lions high levels of protection by preventing them from straying into areas occupied by humans and livestock. This data on the lions is incredibly useful to understand their behaviour as they reintegrate into the Plains of Camdeboo region.
Although the collars need to be replaced every 2 years (the collar battery only lasts between 18-24 months), they are vital for the successful reintegration of lions into the Plains of Camdeboo, and hence Samara’s broader rewilding project. This is an expensive cost in running the project, but it goes a long way to protect the lions from conflict and ensure that their reintroduction contributes to conservation science.