Disney’s new live-action film The Lion King will undoubtedly be a box office smash, but it will also mark the company’s largest public commitment to conservation by supporting a global campaign to raise awareness of the plight of lions called “Protect the Pride.” The campaign is supporting the Lion Recovery Fund, a collaboration between The Wildlife Conservation Network and the Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation, that is aiming to double the number of lions in the wild in Africa by the year 2050.
Why This Matters: No one can capture the hearts and minds of the public like Disney and its stars. Just watch the video above. This film will be seen by billions of people around the globe and hopefully so will this campaign. The money raised will dramatically increase funding available for wild lion conservation in Africa, and the habitat conserved will also contribute to the protection of other species. So “Circle of Life”-it out the wazoo, Zazu! We Can Feel the Love for lions already. We Just Can’t Wait to see the King of the jungle’s population double. We will hope for Hakuna Matata after 2050. Until then, Be Prepared for poachers, big game hunters, and developers of all sorts to continue to threaten the pride.
A New Type of Conservation Advocacy.
Only 3% of the $410 billion donated to charities in the U.S. went to environment and animal organizations in 2018. That number is not consistent with public attitudes placing great importance on these issues and related causes. The Wall Street Journal magazine recently explained that partnerships like the one between Disney and WCN, matching the power of celebrities and conservation causes, is a new model — one that hopefully will appeal to young donors. According to The Journal, at the “forefront of the shift are organizations like the Bay Area–based WCN, which supports local groups in 35 sub-Saharan countries. Others include WildAid, which battles wildlife poaching and trafficking, and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants and rhinos.”
- Their model is simple. Instead of direct mailers and stuffed-animal sales, use “attention-grabbing social-media campaigns and brand partnerships,” to increase the charitable dollars going to wildlife and conservation causes.
- A wildly successful example is the #KnotOnMyPlanet campaign to save elephants undertaken by WCN and Tiffany’s, which yielded 1.5 billion media impressions in the first week. Tiffany’s then debuted a collection featuring tiny silver and rose-gold elephant charms, named Save the Wild, which has raised $5 million for WCN since 2017.
- Similar product tie-ins have also been wildly successful for wildlife and for companies — for example, two editions of Lacoste’s Save Our Species polo shirts, in which they substituted one of 10 threatened species for their iconic alligator, sold out in under 24 hours and all proceeds went to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.