The fund was created by Wildlife Conservation Network and Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to protect lions and their ecosystems across Africa.
The exercise comes after the African Parks completed the Africa’s largest elephant translocation project in history, which saw 500 elephants being relocated from Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Parks to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
The African Parks has also recently reintroduced four cheetahs into Liwonde National Park.
Statistics show that over the last century, lion populations have rapidly declined from 200,000 to just over 20,000.
Conservationists say the reintroduction of lions is aimed to strengthen the ecosystem as well as supporting Malawi’s growing tourism economy.
“Lions are a keystone species and play a critical role in African ecosystems. Recovering them, means the protection and restoration of Africa’s extraordinary biodiversity that drives a $34 billion tourism economy,” said Justin Winters, Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in a statement.
African Parks have been managing Liwonde since 2015 and have improved wildlife numbers, managed surplus species and has recovered populations of essential carnivore prey.
The non-profit organization takes a complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.
It currently manages eleven national parks and protected areas in eight countries covering six and a half million hectares: Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Zambia.
The goal is to manage 20 parks by 2020, protecting more than 10 million hectares.