African Impact’s lion conservation volunteer projects form part of a ground-breaking partnership with The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), our partner NGO. Established as a solution to the dwindling number of lions in Africa, the initiative seeks to reverse the decline in wild lion populations through a pioneering, staged release into the wild program.
Rehabilitation Phase: Cubs born to captive-bred parents are hand raised and taken on human-led walks into their natural environment. These walks enable the cubs to develop their natural instincts.
Release Phase: Lions are released, as prides, into fenced, managed reserves where they have the opportunity to function as a wild pride. Within these release areas the pride gives birth to cubs that are raised naturally, without human interference.
Reintroduction Phase: When old enough, the cubs born in the release phase are translocated for reintroduction into appropriate national parks and reserves that are seeking to restore lost, or augment declining, lion populations.
There is a huge need for this type of revolutionary conservation, as lions have now disappeared from as many as 16 African nations, with a 43% decline in the past 21 years alone. The decrease in the lion populations is due to:
Loss of habitat
Decreases in food sources
The decrease in the Lion Population vs the increase in Human Population
1800: 1 Lion per 833 Humans
2015: 1 Lion per 460,000-520,000 Humans
40 years ago, there were 200,000 lions across Africa. Now, there are as few as 32,000.
The lion release program is spear-headed in Zimbabwe, at private game reserve Antelope Park, where African Impact was founded. Since its birth, the project now has 3 key locations, including Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and Livingstone, Zambia.
The initiative has been extremely successful thus far, with 2 prides of semi-wild lions – one in Zambia (Livingstone) and the other at Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) – set for the final stage of release. The captive born lions within these prides have successful given birth to cubs, free from any form of human interaction or interference, and it is these cubs which are now set for release. Pending negotiations with Government officials and national parks across Zimbabwe and supported by a significant study into the viability of release, we look forward to releasing these lions soon.
Our volunteers play such an important role in helping this initiative to succeed and are fully immersed in our conservation efforts. Activities range from cub walks, where the cubs are free to roam the bush, putting their natural instincts into action; to lion feeding, enclosure cleaning and undertaking research to better understand the behavior of our release pride. Volunteers take our work further by educating the local community on the importance of wildlife conservation, which is critical to successfully carry out our work.
Why do we support lion conservation? The presence of lions in Africa is essential for many reasons:
Africa’s fragile ecosystems: Lions are so important in the food chain. They help to regulate the number of dominant herbivore species, such as zebra and buffalo. Without lions, these species are at risk of out-competing each other with regards to food resources and habitat, which could lead to their extinction.
Tourism: Wildlife provides a major boost for African economies, which lions often the biggest tourist attraction. Many of Africa’s most vulnerable communities rely heavily on the money brought in from tourism and would suffer economically if lions were no longer part of the safari experience for visitors.
Symbolic importance: Lions are portrayed as the “King of the Jungle”. Globally, they are known to be magnificent. They symbolize strength and courage and are a huge of part of traditional African culture.
If you are as crazy about big cats as we are, check out our lion conservation projects below:
Explore Southern Africa on this volunteer expedition with African Impact, ticking 6 countries and over 25 adventure activities (all included in the price) off your bucket list. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
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