Our History

Our Story

Volunteer Encounter was established in 2018 as the direct partner of Antelope Park, Wildlife Encounter (Victoria Falls) & ALERT, however, our story goes way back.

Our volunteer projects have been operating at Antelope Park, Victoria Falls and Livingstone since 2004. We are so proud of how our projects have developed and the difference they have already made in conservation and community development. We still have so much more to achieve and we are so excited to increase our footprint across Africa and beyond.
Here, in the heart of the Zimbabwean bush, sat around a table at Antelope Park, we decided to take a leap, spread our wings and take full ownership of our volunteer projects. We have seen over 5,000 volunteers pass through our gates and with our incredible teams of passionate and motivated people on the ground, we were ready to make our projects our own again.
We are proud to offer over 50 projects, from Kenya to Cape Town and more to come.

Our aim?

Having an optimistic view of human nature, we’re pursuing our vision for a better world. Dedicated to both wildlife conservation and community development, we are committed to making a difference, not only in Africa but also to the lives of the thousands of volunteers who visit and work on our projects.

Our ways?

To offer an experience of a lifetime to anyone with a passion for travel, Africa, its people and wildlife and most importantly, a desire to make a positive difference in the world’s most magical continent. Discover the true, unfiltered nature of Africa; but be warned, once you have a taste for Africa, you will never want to leave.

We are ready to welcome you with open arms to come and join us in genuinely making a difference. We are excited to take our efforts far and beyond. Let’s go Make A Difference ‘MAD’ together.

Why we do what we do

It’s all started with the bad news:

Africa’s lion populations have decreased drastically. According to WWF, they have declined by 90%, from 200,000 to 20,000 remaining in the wild, across the whole of Africa, in the past 70 years (1940-2010.)

We cannot stand back and let the magnificent African Lion disappear off the face of the continent. This is where our partner ALERT (African Lion Environmental Research Trust,) comes in. We are at the forefront of a pioneering staged wild release program. With the extensive research, ALERT has compiled over the last 14 years, our program is in full force and is ready to change the face of conservation.

ALERT & Stages & Chizarira

Our World First Conservation Program

Established in 2005, ALERT (African Lion Environmental Research Trust) is dedicated to finding a way of protecting the African Lion. With extensive research in place, ALERT is laying the foundations to change the face of conservation. We are working alongside ALERT to carry out a world-first initiative release into the wild program. By introducing the wild off-spring of captive bread lions into national parks across Africa, we can expand our conservation footprint beyond what we ever thought was possible.

Our mission is to ensure that the African Lion will forever have a place on this planet. This is where ALERT’s groundbreaking work comes into play:

Rehabilitation: This is where our captive-bred parents are hand raised and taken on human-led walks into their natural environment, in order for the cubs to develop their natural hunting instincts. This stage takes place at our Victoria Falls Project. Volunteers participate in these walks on a regular basis.

Release: Lions are released, as prides, into fenced, secured and managed reserves where they have the opportunity to function as a wild pride. It is in this release area where prides give birth to cubs, who are raised naturally, without human interference. We currently have our Ngamo Release Pride at Antelope Park in this stage and our Dambwa Pride at our Livingstone Project in Zambia. Volunteers go on research with our trained experts to monitor these lions ahead of the intended release.

Reintroduction: When old enough, the cubs born in the release phase (free from human interference,) will be translocated and reintroduced into appropriate natural parks and reserves, in order to prevent a further decline of lions in Africa

Chizarira National Park, Zimbabwe

Antelope Park & Wildlife Encounter are supporting and financing the rehabilitation of the 2,000km2 national park, Chizarira in Zimbabwe. So far, over $300,000 have been invested into Chizarira and we are determined to see this neglected national park return to its full glory again.

Why we started volunteer projects and why we are loving what we do

There are many reasons why we are passionate about volunteering. Most importantly, to have a positive impact on our surrounding communities and for conservation.

Our model and efforts have already spread to many countries in Africa. But almost as importantly, our love and dedication to Africa is uncanny. There is very little which can beat the roar of Africa. But the most spectacular element of Africa lies with its people. To see how happy and content people are with so little, and how much they appreciate the small things.

This is infectious for our volunteers and allows them to develop a new level of appreciation. The effect you will have on community members lives cannot compare to the impact they will have on yours.

Conservation and Community

We truly recognise that in order for our wildlife conservation efforts to succeed, we must have the support of our surrounding communities; who also must feel that they are benefiting from our efforts. That is why wildlife conservation and community development are inseparable.

No game park in Africa will survive, unless the surrounding communities benefit from that park. – Nelson Mandela

What started at Antelope Park more than 30 years ago, today encompasses 17 surrounding community projects which include conservation education centres, teaching, clinics, agricultural and life skills projects. The communities we work with have total control over the projects that we assist with; so we can support them in the most effective ways possible.

Slowly, Antelope Park has become the model for how ALERT’s model has the potential to spread across Africa.