This project brings together 2 very popular projects that help the children of the local community and also help with lion rehabilitation and release.
During the past few difficult years in Zimbabwe, the most vulnerable members of society have suffered from the breakdown of educational and medical infrastructures. The project's aim is to make an impact on the lives of these orphaned children, from babies to teenagers, who have no families to support them. Volunteers will assist with loving, caring for, and mentoring orphans and physically disabled children, from the very young up to high school aged kids. Despite their disabilities and the difficulties they have faced, these children are still so full of warmth and joy and are sure to be an inspiration to anyone who works alongside them.
Lion rehabilitation 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 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.
What's not Included
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, nestled between Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. 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. Antelope Park is set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland.
Volunteer work on this project is greatly needed and much appreciated. During the week you will be involved in the community project and volunteer tasks may include:
- Enrich the lives of underprivileged youth in orphanages and care homes
- Encourage and mentor students in preparation and execution of school lessons
- Assist local teachers with marking exams, designing teaching aids, and assessing the progress of students
- Facilitate sports days, arts and crafts, storytelling, singing and other extracurricular activities with the children
- Serve as a role model for disadvantaged children by offering much needed attention and support
- Immerse yourself in local Zimbabwean culture through direct engagement with the community and orphanages
Over the weekend you will be taking part in the lion conservation activities:
- Enjoy hands-on work and extremely close encounters with young African lions
- Join a globally recognized lion conservation project
- Make toys from natural materials for the young cubs as part of behavioral enrichment to stimulate their predatory and sensory behaviors
- Walk alongside lions in the African bush and experience being part of a hunt as the cubs learn to stalk their prey
- Get to know the African bush - explore the savannah grasslands either on horseback or whilst riding or walking alongside African Elephants
Antelope Park is home to the ground-breaking African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program. As a volunteer on this stunning reserve, you will get involved in the vital research of lion behavior and enjoy hands-on volunteer work with lions on the world’s only significant program for their release into the wild. Our project team has partnered with a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the African Lion.
There are a variety of activities with regards to the Lion Project including; walk lions in the wild to familiarize them with their natural environment, cub sits, provide water for the lions, make food for the elephants or horses, enclosure maintenance, behavior enrichment for the lions, enclosure cleaning, boundary patrols, meat preparation, snare sweeping and bush walks. As well as more leisurely activities including game drives, boat cruises and elephant rides.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Min age 17
- Good level of English
- Flexibility and open mindedness
- Desire to and passion for working with children
- Full travel & medical insurance (included)
- Immunizations (please consult family doctor)
- Police clearance form
During your stay at Antelope Park you will have the opportunity to enjoy an excursion to some of the other spectacular spots that Zimbabwe has to offer. Day trips are offered to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins as well as Matopos and once a month a trip to the Victoria Falls is organized for those volunteers who are interested. These trips are also a great time for volunteers to interact and get to know each other better.
The expedition such as the one outlined below (to Victoria Falls) will cost approximately US$495 to enroll. This includes National Parks fees, transport, meals (outside of the park) and accommodation. Please note that meals and extra activities while inside the Victoria Falls National Park (bungee jumping, white water rafting, etc) are not included in the cost.
Day 1: Leave after breakfast from Antelope Park for Miombo Safari Lodge (Hwange National Park); the largest national park in Zimbabwe, and the same size as Belgium! You will get the opportunity to go on a game drive in Big 5 territory where you could get up close and personal with a herd of elephant, buffalo, a pride of lion and many more. On the way to Miombo you will stop at another one of Zimbabwe’s amazing conservation initiatives, The Painted Dog Society, to learn about the excellent work they are doing to save the painted dog (Wild Dog).
Day 2-4: Leave after breakfast from Miombo for Victoria Falls, adrenalin capital of Africa! You have the option at an additional cost to bungee jump, white water raft, visit the Falls, gorge swing across the Batoka Gorge below the Falls or just enjoy the great social atmosphere at this tourist hot-spot! Dinner at the amazing “Boma” Restaurant is included whilst at the Falls.
Day 5: Depart early morning from Victoria Falls to return to Antelope Park.
There is also the option of a day trip to Great Zimbabwe – the ancient founding city of modern day Zimbabwe or to Matopos – a National Park to go on a wild Rhino tracking safari. The costs of these trips are dependent on the number of people going. +/-USD125
Project Orientation (Included):
On arrival at the Antelope Park 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.