Let’s Talk About Lion Walks

Let’s talk about Walking with Lions

There is a lot of speculation around any form of activity which involves wildlife interaction.

Unfortunately, there are many examples out there which contribute towards this; through the mistreatment of animals, supporting of the canned hunting industry or exploiting these incredible animals.

As part of phase 1 of our ALERT model, we offer guests and volunteers the opportunity to take part in our lion walks.

It is with extensive research by qualified PhD researchers, that we have full confidence in our model and how the role of lion walks, contribute towards this.

The situation with lions right now

Nearly 80 years ago, there were an estimated 200,000 lions roaming the wild (WWF Living Planet Report 2016). Today, there are less than 22,000, demonstrating a 43% decline in the last 25 years (1993-2018) alone (ALERT) across the whole of Africa!

Source: Brilliant Maps – Historic vs Present Geographical Distribution of Lions

Why do we offer the opportunity to walk with lions?

Lion walks offer wildlife enthusiasts the chance to find out more about the African lion and raise awareness about the situation, around the dwindling number of lions, remaining in Africa.

Our walking cubs act as ambassadors to wild lions. This rare and unique opportunity to interact with these cubs helps us with our goal, to encourage others to become passionate about saving these incredible animals on a larger scale.

We have strict rules in place during these walks, to ensure the lions are treated with the utmost care and can behave naturally; providing valuable data for our researchers and our ALERT program.

Lion Walks: Why do we do it?

Our program copies exactly how a cub would become familiar with the bush in the wild.

The purpose of our lion walks is to help introduce these cubs to their natural habitat and to put their natural instincts, such as hunting, into practice.

These cubs are still at a safe age to be in the presence of people.

These lion walks provide vital income, which contributes towards our impending Release into the Wild program and our conservation efforts at Antelope Park, Wildlife Encounter (Victoria Falls) and beyond.

Our mission is not only to make our footprint in conservation but to also support our local communities.

The income generated supports the rehabilitation of Chizarira National Park, where Antelope Park & Wildlife Encounter together, has already invested over $300,000, to restore this national park to its full potential.

What is Phase 1 of the ALERT Release into the Wild Program?

Our resident lions, who have previously participated in these walks produce offspring, that are raised by our experienced lion handlers and through these walks, become accustomed to their natural environment.

Our volunteers are present on these walks and create the essence of ‘the pride’ with these cubs.

Is phase 1 of the ALERT program working?

It is clear to see this phase of the program is very effective, as one of our walking cubs, Lala- Meka made her first kill, single-handedly took down an adult wildebeest at just 14 months old, during a long lion walk, demonstrating her natural instincts are enhanced through these walks in her natural habitat.

What happens to our lions after walking?

In the later stages of phase 1, post walking; our cubs take part in day and night encounters.

This is where they roam freely around the park, following a vehicle; putting their natural hunting instincts into practice.

With a very impressive 40% kill rate on this encounter, these natural instincts are innate and still very present, even after human interaction.

What are sticks used for on lion walks?

All participants in lions walks are required to carry a stick. These sticks are and have always been an essential part of the lion walks for many different reasons.

Carrying a stick for many provides a sense of confidence while walking in the bush.

These sticks can also be used as a means of distraction or a play tool for the lions during these walks, so if these lions show any signs of misbehaviour, the stick is a good tool to distract them, by rustling the grass or point in a different direction.

The sticks also provide participants with a piece of mind, as it keeps a distance between the people and lions on walks.

Where lions are social animals, the stick can act as an extension of the arm to create distance.

The sticks are never used as a means of discipline. They never have been and never will be.

Where do the walks take place?

We currently offer lion walks at Antelope Park and Wildlife Encounter (Victoria Falls.)

As of August 2019, we will be halting all lion walks at Antelope Park in favour of focusing on our impending lion release.

These walks will still continue at our Victoria Falls project.

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