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Diary Extracts From a Lion Conservation Volunteer

OCTOBER 11th

I touched my first lion today! (Ok that sounds creepy). BUT I DON’T CARE! It was everything I ever dreamed and more. The four cubs (Leker, Liuwa, Lala and Lila- AKA The L’s) on the project site here are SO beautiful. And guess what!?? I get to spend the next 14 days with them!!!

When Herbert (the lion handler), first opened up the enclosure and said “Go on in…” I nearly cried. Oh my god this is it! The first thing I noticed right away was how BIG their eyes are… and paws! They are only 11 months and already the size of a Bull Mastiff! We take the lions out for walks in pairs… where they have a chance to see wild game and be stimulated by the environment (because they literally sleep 20+ hours a day). One of the many reasons why my favourite animal in the world is also one of the laziest animals in the world. 

 

OCTOBER 14th

One of my favourite days in Victoria Falls so far! This morning we started off with a language lesson. I brushed up on my Ndebele which is spoken here in Zimbabwe along with many other languages such as Shona and of course English. I took down a lot of notes… Thanks Abeauty, you were a great professor. 

We also did behaviour enrichment with the lions again today. This toy was even bigger and better! We built a little cat house for the cubs with lots of elephant poo inside. One poop toy was dangling in the middle which Liuwa quickly ripped off and took away. It’s only been a week and I feel like they are growing so quickly each day. I know we’re not supposed to play favourites but… Lekker is a king (And I know for a fact all parents have a favourite).

 

OCTOBER 17th

Bird survey this morning! I was designated bird girl which meant I had to write down all of our bird sightings, i.e. species and the coordinates at which we spotted the bird. Because my knowledge of birds literally just extends to most of the east coast of Canada… African birds were really difficult for me. And they sound WAY cooler. For example… red-billed hornbills, lilac-breasted roller, copper bird, scarlet chested sunbird, the list goes on. And these birds are colourful! My favourite were the bee-eaters because of their vibrant green plumage.

We parked in the Zambezi National Park for a quick breakfast and then headed back out in the bush for our elephant ID. We take pictures and ID the elephants based on different characteristics such as notches in the ears or tusks. We drove around for an hour and saw so many animals like baboons, warthogs, hippos, giraffes, impala, kudu… so everything BUT elephants.

Behaviour enrichment for the afternoon (one of my favourite activities ). I was so excited to see the cubs because it had been 2 whole days and that is just 2 days 2 long for me. The behaviour enrichment however didn’t go QUITE as planned… They weren’t too keen on my baby cub mobile idea. You know like… a strings of toys (or in this case poop and bones) for the babies to interact with. Liuwa looked at it for two seconds and thought… nahhhhhh. Oh well, give them a break. It was the hottest day and they just got back from a walk. I’m sure once we left they were going nuts for it but of course we’ll never have proof if the cub mobile actually worked!

 

OCTOBER 20th

We started this morning off with a snare sweep! Yes, poaching is still a huge problem. And guess what? We found a snare…. not only that… we found a snare where our cubs usually walk. Typically the last few snare sweeps have come up clean but this shows that poachers are still trying to come into the National Park hoping to get lucky. Not on our watch! 

Rambo showed us how they create the snare and hang it on a low tree branch. This allows whatever animal walking through to get their head trapped around the snare which acts like a noose… It tightens more and more every time the animal struggles. The fact that this still goes on makes me sick to my stomach… but I’m so grateful that companies like African Impact & Lion Encounter make an effort to do weekly snare sweeps to protect the National Park from poachers as much as possible. 

 

OCTOBER 24th

I want to take this time to thank African Impact & ALERT for creating such an amazing program and making my dreams come true. This blog only covers such a small amount of the experiences I have gained during my stay. To all the coordinators and volunteers, I love you all. 

Well, Africa… it’s been real. I am going to miss you so much. I’ll miss your wildlife, your amazing people, your Mazoe, your power outages, your heat that I finally managed to acclimatized to. I’ll miss how clean I felt for those 2 minutes when I came out of the shower just before getting covered in dirt/sweat again. 

Ugh, now I’m sitting at the airport in Joburg… and I can’t even enjoy my complimentary wifi or unlimited lounge booze because I just want to be back in Vic Falls. All I have now are memories and about 1000 photos… which I am looking at now. What a trip.

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AIDS education thanda private game reserve HIV volunteering holiday volunteer trip horses how can i volunteer in africa how to be a volunteer in africa how to become a volunteer how to go to africa how to volunteer how to volunteer abroad How to Volunteer Abroad how to volunteer in Africa how to work and travel how to work in africa Humming bird impact imvelo awards imvelo awards 2012 imvelo awards finalists imvelo awards winners imvelo finalists 2011 Innovative Awards Intern Abroad intern in Africa intern with a charity international earth day international volunteer International Women's Day internship internship african impact internship cape town internships internships abroad internships in africa jambiani job opportunity jobs in africa Jobs in Cape Town Jobs in South Africa Jobs with Lions jungle expedition kenya volunteering kwazulu-natal kzn wildlife large predator last minute lion lion conservation Lion Encounter lion prides lion projects lion rehabilitation lion rehabilitation project lion rehabilitation volunteering lion volunteer africa lion volunteer south africa lion volunteering lion volunteering in Africa Lions lions in africa Live and work in Africa make an impact makeyourimpact making a difference in Africa malawi volunteering marketing Masai Mara masai mara volunteering masai mara warriors Mature Volunteer mature volunteering medical outreach project medical projects in zambia medical support medical volunteer medical volunteer projects Medical volunteer projects in Africa medical volunteering medical volunteering africa medical volunteering in africa medical volunteering zambia mount kilimanjaro Naboisho Conservancy national geographic new projects ngamo pride ngo NGO Internship NGO Jobs non-profit organisations nursing Older volunteering orphan care orphan care africa orphan volunteer projects Orphan Volunteer Projects in Africa over 30's over 30's volunteering packing for the bush packing for travel to Africa Paid volunteering paid volunteering in africa photography africa photography south africa photography volunteer photography volunteering plant trees pre-school volunteering preparing to volunteer programs in Africa project rhino kzn projects africa projects for africa reasons to travel Red Hill reforestation reforestation in africa responsible tourism Responsible travel retirement volunteering rhino rhino poachers rhinos killed in south africa rural school Safari safari africa Save the African Lion save the trees saving rhinos saving the lion saving the lions saving the planet school uniforms africa seychelles Smba Giya social involvement social media Something different for retirement south afric south africa south africa internships south africa rhinos south africa volunteering special offer sponsor a child programme sports volunteer st lucia st lucia south africa St Lucia, South Africa stand out cv stand out resume steve jobs student volunteering sustainability sustainable development sustainable volunteering sustaining trees table mountain tanzania teach abroad teach English abroad teach in africa teach in tanzania teach in zanzibar teaching Teaching Africa teaching in africa teaching in zambia teaching projects in africa Teaching Volunteer Projects in Africa team house tentation THAF Thanda thanda in africa thanda private game reserve the happy africa foundation tips on what to pack tourism tourism cape town tourism south africa tourism zanzibar tourism zimbabwe travel travel africa travel and work overseas travel in Africa travel opportunities travel overseas travel to africa at christmas trees for zambia Trip Advisor trvelling Tuli Game Reserve tweeting UCAS points UCAS points volunteering UK. Established in 2004 UNESCO up close with lions Victoria Falls victoria falls lion victoria falls lions victoria falls volunteer visit africa visit zimbabwe voluntary work africa Voluntary Work in Africa Volunteer volunteer abroad Volunteer Abroad volunteer abroad mozambique volunteer africa volunteer africa children volunteer africa opportunity volunteer africa program volunteer antelope park volunteer at Christmas Volunteer at Christmas volunteer chimfunshi volunteer coordinator volunteer forever volunteer game reserve Volunteer in Africa Volunteer in Africa volunteer in africa with children volunteer in African clinic volunteer in Cape Town Volunteer in Cape Town volunteer in Kenya volunteer in kwazulu natal volunteer in Livingstone volunteer in South Africa Volunteer in South Africa volunteer in Tanzania volunteer in the Masai Mara volunteer in township volunteer in west africa volunteer in Zambia volunteer in Zanzibar volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer lions volunteer mozambique volunteer national park volunteer on conservation projects in Africa volunteer on game reserve volunteer on holiday volunteer on vacation volunteer opportunities volunteer opportunities africa volunteer opportunity abroad Volunteer opprotunities Africa volunteer overseas volunteer overseas work Volunteer programs in Africa volunteer project volunteer projects volunteer projects africa volunteer projects in africa volunteer south africa volunteer St Lucia volunteer stories Volunteer Travel volunteer travel conference volunteer wildlife volunteer with african children volunteer with animals volunteer with animals africa volunteer with animals in africa volunteer with charities in africa volunteer with children volunteer with children africa volunteer with children in kenya volunteer with chimpanzees volunteer with chimps volunteer with elephants volunteer with lions Volunteer with Lions volunteer with monkeys volunteer with orphans volunteer with rhinos volunteer with wildlife volunteer with wildlife in africa volunteer work africa volunteer work health benefits volunteer zambia volunteer zanzibar volunteer zimbabwe Volunteering volunteering abroad volunteering africa volunteering ethics volunteering in africa volunteering in cape town volunteering in Mozambique volunteering in South Africa volunteering in zambia volunteering opportunities volunteering programmes volunteering with animals volunteering with lions volunteering zambia Volunteerism volunteerng volunteers making an impact Voluntourism voluntourism voluntourism ethics voluteer in africa walk with lions walking with lions walking with lions africa What is it like to volunteer in Africa what to do at christmas what to do in Africa what to pack what to pack africa what to wear volunteering where can i volunteer Why pay for volunteering why volunteer Wildlife conservation wildlife conservation volunteering wildlife orphan care wildlife orphanage wildlife photography wildlife photography africa wildlife photography opportunity wildlife photography program wildlife photography project wildlife project africa wildlife rehabilitation wildlife research wildlife research project wildlife research volunteer wildlife volunteer africa Wildlife Volunteer in Africa wildlife volunteer in south africa wildlife volunteer project wildlife volunteer projects wildlife volunteer zimbabwe wildlife volunteering wildlife volunteering africa wildlife volunteering in africa wildlife volunteering in south africa Womens empowerment work abroad work abroad volunteer work and travel abroad work and travel overseas work experience abroad work for charities in africa work gap year work in Africa work in south africa work volunteers Work with animals work with children Work with Children in Africa work with children in south africa Work with Chimpanzees work with elephants Work with Lions work with lions in africa Worki in Africa working abroad working in Africa Working in Zambia Working with Chimps working with lions world aids day Worlds best holiday destination youth travel Zambia zambia africa zanzibar Zimbabwe zimbabwe volunteer projects zulu communities zulu culture zulu dambwa pride
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