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Zimbabwe - Lion Conservation in Victoria Falls

Volunteer to work up close with lions against the backdrop of the majestic Victoria Falls. Be involved in the research of lion behavior and participate in one of the world's few initiatives to release them back into the wild. Volunteers will also assist the National Park's rangers teach about conservation in the local school.



$2,100

 

Fast Facts

Location of ProjectVictoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks
Arrival AirportVictoria Falls International Airport
Volunteer WorkManagement of the lions’ daily needs including food preparation, feeding, maintenance of enclosures and community work and conservation education
Number of ParticipantsUp to 10 International volunteers
Age17 - 80
Suitable For Groups and couples

What's Included

AccommodationLodge rooms for 1-4 people
Food3 meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded on arrival and departure day
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival
Laundry Weekly laundry service for an additional fee
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, entry visa (between $50 - $100 USD depending on nationality), levy of $30 USD upon departure from Zimbabwe
* Please note that volunteers staying longer than 30 days will require a “temporary employment permit." This costs an extra $500 USD to be paid upon arrival in Zimbabwe.
 

Location

This project takes place in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It is located on the outskirts of the town of Victoria Falls, a stone's throw away from the magnificent thundering waters of the Falls.

 

About the Project

Over the last 40 years, the African lion population has drastically decreased by 80-90%, from about 200,000 in 1975 to as low as 32,000 today. In an attempt to offset the rapid decline, the Antelope Park lion rehabilitation program works to reintroduce the offspring of captive-bred lions into the wild so they can one day have their own wild-bred offspring, a process that volunteers will learn more about during their involvement with the project.

Spending time with the cubs in the wild each day is an essential part of developing the cubs' natural instincts, which is this project's priority. If the cubs are to be released into a wild environment it is important that they adapt to, learn from, understand, observe, feel, and smell the wild.

 

Volunteer Work and Contribution

As a volunteer at Victoria Falls, you will be involved in all aspects of the day-to-day running of the conservation project, including lion walks and important research as well as general conservation activities.

Volunteers' daily tasks may include:

Lion walks: Spending time with the lions in the wild each day is an essential part of the cubs' upbringing. If the cubs are to be successfully released, it is important that they spend time in their natural environment. Since the start of this intensive lion walking program, there has been a marked increase in the lions' awareness of their natural habitat, as well as an improvement in their hunting skills. 

You will also be involved in the care of the animals who are housed overnight in enclosures.  They need feeding, cleaning, and occasionally veterinary care to ensure that they are kept in the best of health.

Research:  A number of research activities are conducted to better understand lion behavior and ecology. You will assist our research technicians in gathering and analyzing vital data necessary for making the best decisions for the lions’ welfare and gauging their progression through the release program. The research studies being undertaken during your placement will vary depending on the needs of the project at the time. Tasks may include looking at hunting and developmental skills, character traits, spoor sizes, or mane growth. Volunteers will receive all the training they need in order to ensure that they are able to provide valuable input to this program, regardless of previous experience.

Work in the National Parks:  As a volunteer, you will work with the research team and rangers on any number of conservation activities that may include some or all of the following, based on the park's needs at the time of your placement:

  • Assist in the development and renovation of a new waterhole 
  • Carry out snare sweeps to remove the wires set by poachers to illegally catch the animals that inhabit the reserve
  • Work with local communities to mitigate lion/human conflict
  • Remove invasive species

Conservation education: You may often be involved in elements of community development, where you will help youth learn about wildlife, animal habitats and why it’s important to preserve the environment.

Here is an approximation of how your time will be split between the different aspects of the program:

  • Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program 75%
  • Conservation work within the National Parks 20%
  • Conservation Education & Community Development 5%

A typical day: You'll start off your day bright and early at 6:30 am taking 6-18 month-old cubs on a walk around the bush as you observe and record their hunting skills. After taking a break for breakfast around 9:00 am, you will partake in various activities related to either conservation education or caring for the cubs. Around 12:00 pm, you'll enjoy lunch and a nice mid-day break, followed by afternoon activities, briefing with the volunteer coordinator, and dinner.

Volunteers will work 5 to 6 days per week, with full days Monday to Friday and some additional tasks on Saturdays. If you are part of a group going on a weekend trip which departs on Friday or Saturday, then you will generally be exempted from Saturday duties.

 

Living Arrangements

Accommodations: Volunteers will be staying in comfortable twin or quad rooms in thatched accommodations at the main reserve camp. Volunteers have separate, clean shower and toilet facilities located adjacent to the sleeping area. The rooms will be cleaned daily by the housekeeping staff. Room upgrades are available at an additional fee. 

 
Food: Volunteers are provided with 3 meals a day. All meals, unless a volunteer gets a packed breakfast for their lion walk, will be served at the main camp

Internet: WIFI is available, though can be sporadic due to the remote location

Laundry: Laundry will be washed, ironed, and folded at an additional fee of $5

 

Project Orientation

On arrival at the Victoria Falls project, you will receive a comprehensive orientation, including:

  • Volunteers will receive their volunteer's manual which includes information that will help with their integration into the project, as well as give them further tips for their stay.
  • Introduction to all the project's senior staff
  • Familiarization of your duties and the work areas
  • Introduction to the lion and cub enclosures
  • Briefing on how to complete data capture forms 
  • Further information on the lion breeding program and our ultimate objective of  releasing lions into the wild

Travel Highlights

During your stay in Victoria Falls, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore some of Zimbabwe's spectacular sights. For an additional cost, you can also enjoy exciting activities in the "adrenaline capital" of Africa, including: helicopter flights over the falls, bungee jumping, horse-back excursions, elephant rides, game drives, gorge jumps, skydiving, canoeing, and white water rafting. 

 

Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 17 
  • Basic English
  • Good physical fitness
  • Motivation to work with animals
  • Immunizations (please consult your local travel clinic)
  • Police clearance form

 

 

Here's an excerpt of Nicolás' experience:

 
"At 9 am we’d have breakfast which was delicious! At 10 we’d go of an other 2 hour walk, and after we would head back to the lodge for lunch. Around 3 pm we would go back to the lions place to walk with them or where once a week we’d clean their enclosure and feed them 8kg of meat. Occasionally we’d make toys for the lions to play with. And on Saturday afternoons we would go to the orphanage to play with the local kids who were so nice and friendly!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!
 

Here's an excerpt of Kate's experience:

 
"The project staff was always so much fun to work with! Very happy, positive and funny.. every day I was excited to see them. They taught us a lot about lions, Africa, wildlife, and life in general. Their life, and my life. My whole perspective has changed. All of a sudden, you enjoy the little things, you’re happier, and complain less...As far as the lions, my feelings have been right all my life. They are absolutely amazing, affectionate and loving creatures. My love for lions only grew after this experience.

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Amanda's experience:

  "As soon as I arrived in the tiny Vic Falls airport, and was greeted by singing and dancing, I took a deep breath and truly realized what I had known in the back of my mind this whole time - this was going to be the experience that would change my life forever."


Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

 

Here's an excerpt of Alida's experience:

  "Starting every morning with the beautiful sunrise, a quick cup of tea followed by a bushwalk with the cubs; is something I will always cherish. Watching the first sun of the day, light up the golden grasses of the bush, and seeing the lions basking on rocks and enjoying the warmth is truly an indescribable feeling. Getting to interact and observe the lions is amazing, each lion is so unique and it is a blast getting to know their different personalities."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

 

Here's an excerpt of Joan's experience:

  "Work with the lions is enjoyable, rewarding, and not too difficult.  In addition to volunteering with lions the volunteers also participate in education and research. The atmosphere was easy-going and relaxed. The lions are absolutely fascinating (more like large kitties) and you just get attached to them and the qualities that distinguish each and every one!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!

"I had a wonderful time at this program. I most liked there the variety of activities that we had. Every day we had a different activity with the lions and even sometimes with other wild animals in Zimbabwe (like game drive and elephants). The people at the program are very kind and caring to the volunteers. I sincerely recommend this experience and I will come back with out a doubt to volunteer there again."

-Shir, GoEco Volunteer 2010, Israel

 

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