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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.

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Location of the Project:  Antelope Park, 10km from Gweru, Zimbabwe Midlands
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Project length:  Min 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Bulawayo and Harare Airports
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Volunteer Work:  Management of the lions’ daily needs including food preparation, feeding, maintenance of enclosures and community work and conservation education
Age:  17-70
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Number of Volunteers:  Up to 30 international volunteers
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Important Note:  Suitable for groups and couples. Orientation: all necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival

What's Included

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Accommodations:  Twin or quad rooms at volunteer camp
Food:  Three meals a day
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Airport Transfers:  Included on arrival and departure day
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Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Orientation:  Orientation upon arrival in Antelope Park includes meet and greet, introduction to Antelope Park, project overview and any training that is necessary before beginning the project.
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Support:  Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, personal expenses, entry visa (between $50 - $100 USD depending on nationality), levy of $30 USD upon departure from Zimbabwe

This project takes place at Antelope Park, a private game park located 10km from the Gweru town center, in the heart of the Zimbabwe Midlands.

As a volunteer, you will get a chance to learn about and get involved in the three-step process of this lion rehabilitation program: the pre-release stage, the release stage, and the wild stage. Your duties may include the following: 

  • Join handlers on lion walks in the African bush and watch as the young cubs learn to stalk their prey
  • Make toys from natural materials for the young cubs as part of behavioral enrichment to stimulate their predatory and sensory behaviors
  • Observe and collect data on the cubs' hunting skills 
  • Clean lion enclosures
  • Prepare meat for the lions 
  • Sweep snares 
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 8:00 am, you will partake in various duties including cub walking, enclosure cleaning, boundary patrols, meat preparation, snare sweeping, and bush walks. Lunch is at 1:00 pm, followed by afternoon activities, briefing with the volunteer coordinator, and dinner. 

Internet
Internet:  WiFi is available, though can be sporadic due to the remote location.
Laundry
Laundry:  Laundry will be washed, ironed, and folded free of charge.
Accommodations
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.

Please take note of the project's 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

During their stay at Antelope Park, volunteers will have the opportunity to enjoy excursions 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. Some of the available activities include elephant rides, sunset cruises, horse rides, overnight safaris, and Polo Crosse games. 

Project Orientation (Included):
On arrival at the Antelope Park project, you will receive a comprehensive orientation, including:

  • Meet and greet with your Volunteer Coordinator, Volunteer Manager, Scientific Researcher and all senior project staff
  • Introduction to Antelope Park and surrounding area
  • Overview of the project and volunteer manual, which includes information that will help with your integration into the project
  • Familiarization of the work areas – including lion and cub enclosures, rivers, internal roads and tracks, and some of the wildlife species
  • Safety briefings and cultural introduction
  • Any extra training that you will need for volunteer duties such as data capture
  • Further information on the lion breeding program and our ultimate objective of releasing lions into the wild
4-Day Victoria Falls Excursion Trip (Not Included)

During the low season, for an additional fee, volunteers may havew the opportunity to participate in a 4-day/ 3-night trip to Victoria Falls. This trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World offers the chance to bungee jump, go white water-rafting, ziplining, sunset cruising and more! 

Volunteer Experiences
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