Zimbabwe - Lion Reintroduction Project
Walk and work with lions in a stunning game reserve. Be involved in the research of lion behavior and work towards releasing them back into the wild. Additionally, volunteers will have the opportunity to spend some time with orphaned elephants.
|Location of Project||10km from Gweru, Zimbabwe Midlands|
|Project Length||Min 2 weeks - Max 4 weeks|
|Arrival Airport||Bulawayo or Harare Airports|
|Volunteer Work||Handling of lion cubs, food preparation, feeding and maintenance, washing elephants|
|Number of Participants||Up to 20 international volunteers|
|Age||17 - 70|
|Suitable For||Groups and couples|
|Accommodation||Thatched rooms for 2-4 people|
|Food||3 meals a day|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support|
|Airport Transfers||Included on arrival day|
|Pre-Departure Kit||Full project details will be sent following registration|
|Orientation||All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival|
|Travel Insurance||Comprehensive travel & medical insurance with volunteer abroad coverage|
What's Not Included
This project takes place at Antelope Park, a private game farm located 10km from the Gweru town center, in the heart of the Zimbabwe Midlands.
About the Project
Over 200,000 lions previously roamed the African continent, as recently as 1975. The latest estimates show an 80 - 90% population decline in the last 30 years. The end objective of the Victoria Falls lion project, along with our Antelope Park program, is the reintroduction of the offspring of captive-bred lions into the wild by means of a four-stage process, which volunteers will learn more about during their involvement with the project.
This breeding and rehabilitation project is supported by leading ecologists in this field. We invite volunteers to walk and work with African lions, and to be involved in our in-depth research and data collection activities. Spending time with the lions in the wild each day is an essential part of the cubs' upbringings. If the cubs are to be released into a wild environment it is important that they spend time in that environment. They need to adapt to it, learn from it, understand, observe, feel, and smell the wild.
Volunteers will also spend their time with orphaned elephants and be invloved with the managment tasks to secure the other wildlife.
Volunteer Work and Contribution
The involvement of volunteers on the project is paramount to achieving our aims on all fronts. Volunteers can expect days to be long, but will also be able to end each day knowing that they have given something back to Africa and have made a difference to the animals and people with whom they come into contact.
Volunteer's 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 out in a natural environment. They need to re-adjust to the wild. Since the start of this intensive lion walking program, we have noted a marked increase in the lions' awareness of their natural habitat, as well as an improvement in their hunting skills. The larger cubs are now able to take down small game species whilst out on walks. These abilities are being enhanced each day under the supervision of volunteers. These are invaluable discoveries, which have earned us further support worldwide.
Volunteers will 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: as part of the program, we conduct a number of research activities to better understand lion behavior and ecology. The lion walks offer unique opportunities to observe lions close up in their natural environment. The data collected assists us in making the best decisions for the animals' welfare and eventual release. Volunteers assist our research technicians in gathering and analyzing this vital data. 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, 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.
Elephants: volunteers will also have the opportunity to spend time with our orphaned African Elephants and their trainers. The elephants at Antelope Park were saved from certain death during a severe drought that ravaged Zimbabwe's South Eastern Lowveld in 1991 and 1992. The elephants play an important role in the Antelope Park's activities' schedule.
Free-roaming wildlife: the few remaining areas of wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe are extremely precious and must be protected at all costs. Part of this project will involve assistance with the wildlife management scheme such as finding and removing snares within the game park and checking for holes or fence cuttings on the boundary fence and repairing them. These activities are usually conducted on foot, within the park and accompanied by one of our trained guides.
Volunteers may also be asked to assist in any other duties at the game park such as:
Cleaning the lion enclosures, preparing meat for the lions, building and painting new lion enclosures, cutting and collecting firewood, daily schooling and exercising of horses, basic repairs and maintenance, fire brakes, or any other wildlife or camp related activities that involve the assistance and development of the lion program.
There is also an opportunity to visit children at a local orphanage and interact with them. They love to have the care and attention shown to them that they so richly deserve.
Accommodations: volunteers will be staying in comfortable twin or quad rooms in thatched accommodations at the main reserve camp. Volunteers have separate, clean shower & toilet facilities to the rest of the camp which are 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: 3 meals provided a day. All meals, unless a volunteer happens to take a packed breakfast into the park on a long lion walk, will be served at the main camp
Laundry: free use of the laundry service is available to all volunteers
Internet: available, though can be sporadic due to the remote location
On arrival at the Antelope Park project, the following orientation will take place:
- 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 about the Antelope Park program
- Introduction to all the project's senior staff and heads of department
- Familiarization with the work areas - including rivers, internal roads and tracks, and some of the wildlife species
- Introduction to the lions and cub enclosures
- Briefing on how to complete data capture forms and enter data into the computer systems
- Further information on the lion breeding program and our ultimate objective of releasing lions into the wild
- Familiarization with all project duties
During the stay at Antelope Park, volunteers will have the opportunity to enjoy an excursion to some of the other spectacular spots that Zimbabwe has to offer. These trips are also a great time for volunteers to interact and to get to know each other better. Other activities available are:
- Walk with lions – founded right here at Antelope Park
- Ride elephants – Antelope Park has 4 elephants and sunset or sunrise rides will be available
- Game viewing – by horseback, carriage, vehicle, or on foot
- Sunset cruises on the lake in front of the camp
- Cub sitting and feeding (subject to availability)
- Horse rides – Antelope Park’s horse rides are regarded as some of the best secure wildlife horse rides on the continent
- Full moon elephant and horse rides
- Min age 17
- At least 1.55 metres tall (5 feet 1 inch)
- Basic English
- Good physical fitness
- Motivation to work with animals
- Full travel & medical insurance
- Immunizations (please consult your doctor - the area is a malaria zone)
- Police clearance form
Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org
"I had the opportunity to do this amazing project and have no regrets, only sadness that it had to end. I will be going back in the future...hopefully with new volunteers!
Waking up every morning to catch the sunrise as we walked along side of lions was just surreal! Helping to prepare the meat, although not very pleasant, was rewarding in the end - being able to witness a pride of male lions bolt from their enclosure to get to that meat, to hear their growls and see them defend their food like in the wild was purely mesmerizing! Walking along side the elephants in the open fields was just as amazing!
Even a non nature enthusiast would fall in love with Zimbabwe and it's gorgeous landscapes it has to offer - unspoiled by mass human habitation and it serene wilderness. Truly Africa!!!" - Fern, GoEco Volunteer, 2010