Lion Conservation Volunteering

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Disease
Year Human Population Lion Population
1800 1000 1.20
1900 1600 0.664
1950 2550 0.450
2000 6127 0.040
2010 6900 0.27
2015 7317 0.015

The decrease in the Lion Population vs the increase in Human Population

Lion population Southern Africa

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:

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Hands-On Lion Conservation, Antelope Park

Travel to the heart of the Zimbabwean bush to volunteer on a project to protect the future of Africa’s lions; the only program of its kind in the world. Become a member of the pride as you walk alongside the cats, learning about lion behavior and carrying out key research.

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FROM £ 1427 | US$ 2597

African Big 5 & Wildlife Conservation, South Africa

Join our research team on game drives in the Greater Kruger Area, a wildlife hotspot in South Africa. Monitor and study the African Big 5 (leopard, rhino, lion, buffalo and elephant) and assist local wildlife foundations with the protection of endangered species.

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FROM £ 1,264 | US$ 2,272

Big Cat Wildlife Research & Conservation, Masai Mara

Big Cat volunteers support our conservation efforts in the Naboisho Conservancy, which borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. You will actively monitor big cats and other wildlife whilst conducting important research that contributes to long-term park and animal management plans.

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FROM £ 1,264 I US$ 2,311

Lions, Conservation and Community – Victoria Falls, Zambia

Contribute to the conservation of the iconic African lion on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls. You'll also play your part in a variety of conservation projects, including wild elephant-human conflict research whilst working closely with the local communities of Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

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FROM £ 1,102 | US$ 2,031

ALERT Conservation Internships

The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust runs projects in both Zambia and Zimbabwe and offer interns the opportunity to make a lasting difference by participating in a number of exciting conservation internships.

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FROM £ 1102 | US$ 2031