Antelope Park (Private Game Farm), 10km from Gweru town centre, in the heart of the Zimbabwe Midlands
About the project
Over 200,000 lions used to roam 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 programme, is the reintroduction of the offspring of captive-bred lions into the wild by means of a four-stage process, which you will learn more about during your involvement with the project.
This breeding and rehabilitation project is a World first and is supported by leading ecologists in this field. We invite you 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 cub's upbringing. 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
As a volunteer you will also volunteer with orphaned elephants and be invloved with the managment tasks to secure the other wildlife.
On arrival at the Antelope Park project, the following orientation will take place:
You will receive your volunteer's manual which includes information that will help with your integration into the project, as well as give you further tips about the Antelope Park programme
Introduction to all the project's senior staff and heads of department
Familiarization with the work areas - including rivers, internal roads and tracks and some of the wildlife species
Introduction to the lions and cub enclosures
Briefing on how to complete data capture forms and enter data into the computer systems
Further information on the lion breeding programme and our ultimate objective of releasing lions into the wild
Familiarization with all your project duties
Volunteer work and contribution
The involvement of volunteers on the project is paramount to achieving our aims on all fronts. You can expect days to be long, but you will also be able to end each day knowing that you have given something back to Africa; having made a difference to the animals and people with whom you have come into contact. Your daily tasks may include:
Lion Walks. Spending time with the lions in the wild each day is an essential part of the cubs' upbringing. If the cubs are to be successfully released, it is important that they spend time out in a natural environment. They need to re-adjust to the wild. Since the start of this intensive lion walking programme, we have noted a marked increase in the lions' awareness of their natural habitat, as well as an improvement in their hunting skills. The larger cubs are now able to take down smaller game species whilst out on walks. These abilities are being enhanced each day under the supervision of volunteers. These are invaluable discoveries, which have earned us further support worldwide.
You will be involved in the care of the animals who are housed overnight in enclosures. They need feeding, cleaning, and occasionally veterinary care to ensure that they are kept in the best of health.
Research. As part of the program we conduct a number of research activities to better understand lion behaviour and ecology. The lion walks offer unique opportunities to observe lions close up in their natural environment .The data collected assists us to make the best decisions for the animal's welfare and eventual release. Volunteers assist our research technicians in gathering and analyzing this vital data. The research studies being undertaken during your placement will vary depending on the needs of the project at the time. Tasks may include looking at hunting developmental skills, character traits, spoor sizes or mane growth. You will receive all the training you need in order to ensure that you are able to provide valuable input to this program regardless of previous experience.
Elephants: You will also have the opportunity to spend time with our orphaned African Elephants and their trainers. The elephants at Antelope Park were saved from certain death during a severe drought that ravaged Zimbabwe's South Eastern Lowveld in 1991 and 1992. The elephants play an important role in the Antelope Park's activities' schedule.
Free Roaming Wildlife. The few remaining areas of wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe are extremely precious and must at all costs be protected. Part of your project will involve assistance with the wildlife management scheme such as finding and removing snares (‘snare sweeps') within the game park and checking for holes or fence cuttings on the boundary fence (‘Boundary Patrols') and repairing them. These activities are usually conducted on foot, within the Park and accompanied by one of our trained guides.
You may also be asked to assist in any other duties at the game park such as:
cleaning the lion enclosures; preparing meat for the lions; building and painting new lion enclosures; cutting and collecting firewood; daily schooling and exercising of horses; basic repairs and maintenance; fire brakes; any other wildlife or camp related activities that involve the assistance and development of the lion programme.
There is also an opportunity to visit children at a local orphanage and interact with them. They love to have the care and attention shown to them that they so richly deserve.
Accommodation & Facilities
You will be staying in comfortable twin or quad room thatched accommodation at the main reserve camp
Other facilities include swimming pool and internet access which is sometimes only sporadically available due to our remote location
Volunteers have separate clean shower & toilet facilities to the rest of the camp which are located adjacent to the sleeping area
Your room will be cleaned daily by the housekeeping staff, and free use of the laundry service is available to all volunteers
All your meals, unless you happen to take a packed breakfast into the park on a long lion walk, will be served at the main camp.
There are 3 options of upgrades available:
East African Style Safari Tents: Twin or double rooms with en-suite bathroom.
Cost: an extra GBP17 or US$25/person sharing/day. GBP30 or US$45 for single occupancy.
Thatched River Lodge: Twin or double rooms with en-suite bathroom and deck overlooking the river.
Cost: An extra GBP23 or US$35/person sharing/day. GBP37 or US$55 for single occupancy.
Island Lodge: Thatched rooms perfect for couples. Ideal views
Cost: An extra GBP43 or US$65/person sharing/day. GBP63 or US$95 for single occupancy.
All of these accommodations are luxurious and have beautiful views.
Travel Highlights: 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. These trips are also a great time for volunteers to interact and to get to know each other better. An expedition such as the one outlined below will cost you approximately US$450 (this includes National Parks fees, transport, meals (except in Victoria Falls) and accommodation).
Day 1: Leave after breakfast from Antelope Park for Granite Ridge Lodge (Motobo National Park). Enjoy a half-day Rhino Walk & Game Drive in this stunning Park. There is also a chance to catch an unparalleled view of the African sunrise and sunset at Granite Ridge, from the rock formations overlooking the Lodge.
Day 2: Leave Granite Ridge 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.
Day 3-5: Leave after breakfast from Miombo for Victoria Falls, adrenalin capital of Africa! You have the option 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!
Day 5: Travel to Chundu Island on the Zambezi River where you will stay the night.
Day 6: Leave Chundu Island after breakfast and return to Victoria Falls before departing for Antelope Park.
Min age 18 - Max age 80
Good physical fitness
Motivation to work with animals
Full travel & medical insurance
Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
To apply for this program, see Lions and Orphaned Elephants