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.
What's not Included
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
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
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!