Lion & Game Park Management
Make a difference for the African Lions in Victoria Falls
→ Prices start from $1007 or £769 for 1 week
Why Volunteer with Lions in Africa
Volunteering with animals in Africa is one thing. Volunteering with lions, however, offers a totally unique and incredible insight into what it takes to conserve wildlife on this magical continent.
The Lion population is dwindling fast. According to ICUN research, there were 200,000 lions in the wild just 25 years ago. Today, just over 22,000 remains. The lion population has seen the highest decline than any other species, including the rhino. The Lion is so iconic and precious to Africa, and we must do something now to stop this decline.
Volunteer with Africa’s iconic wildlife and the magnificent African lion, making your mark on wildlife conservation and park management, as you join us in our mission to protect and preserve this exquisite species for many more generations to come.
With incredible and extremely close lion encounters on offer, this is a once in a lifetime adventure that awaits you.
Lion Conservation Volunteer Reviews
My two weeks with Volunteer Encounter has been amazing and a great experience! Every activity has been educational and the people you get to meet and work with are so nice. By participating in a project like this, you get very close to the animals and learn a lot about wildlife in the area. You also learn a lot from the local people that you work with, so you get to know about the local language, culture, history, etc. All this makes the journey much more meaningful!
Overall my two weeks on this project has been really good, and I would really like to come back here, but for a longer time.
Jacob Fellner, Slovakia
Before I came here, I was expecting to learn a lot about lions and wildlife around me but in the end, I got so much more out of these 6 weeks of me staying here. I met amazing people, engaged in community and research project, made friends and I really felt like I was at home here these past 6 weeks and not just a volunteer.
10/10, would recommend to anyone!
By volunteering with Volunteer Encounter I have learned so much, I have got experience of wildlife and conservation of nature that I could only dream of just by going here for a month. I have grown so much as a person, especially by going here by myself. I have met so many wonderful people, met friends for life. Besides the volunteer work, the weekends have been filled with a lot of amazing activities that you can find here in Victoria Falls. These four weeks will be with me for life.
A day in the life of a wildlife conservation volunteer
There is no such thing as a typical day when you work with lions. It’s all part of the fun when you volunteer with wildlife in Africa! Every day presents new challenges and tasks. You can expect to get involved in a variety of different activities that include the following:
- Walk with Lions and enjoy unique and unforgettable close encounters with these magnificent big cats. You will accompany the cubs on daily walks in the only place in Zimbabwe that you can do this!
- Assist in the upkeep of our resident lions by caring for them, feeding them and cleaning their enclosures while getting to know their personalities. Take part in behavioural enrichment activities by making toys from natural materials to stimulate the lions’ predatory and sensory behaviours.
- Attend conflict scenes in order to provide help and solutions, record vital data, map predator movements through camera trapping and spoor surveying, as well as strengthen livestock enclosures and field fences to limit wildlife accessibility.
- Assist with outreach initiatives in the local communities by delivering conservation education lessons in local schools and get a handle on issues to develop methods to try and reduce the level of conflicts.
- Join our team of dedicated conservationists who work tirelessly within our private reserve ensuring that we maintain an environment for ecosystems to thrive.
- Get your hands dirty by helping to remove alien plant species, by going through waterhole and fire management tasks and by joining snare sweeps and litter picks. It’s as important as it sounds.
- Spend your days and nights tracking and monitoring wildlife within our area.
- At an additional cost, fill your weekends with adrenaline activities like bungee jumping and white-water rafting. Take advantage of optional trips to Botswana’s Chobe National Park or visit our wild-born cubs in release sites located at our bases in Livingstone, Zambia or Antelope Park, Zimbabwe.
- Make friends for life with other international volunteers while you play a vital role in the conservation of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and World Heritage Site, the magnificent Victoria Falls.
Our Goals and Objectives
We are dedicated to the well-being of our lions and the sustainability of our wildlife conservation program. All of our lion-based activities have specific aims and objectives, to ensure we are reaching our goals.
- To provide the lions with the opportunity to explore their natural behaviours in the bush without limitations.
- By walking the lions with volunteers and handlers, this creates the essence of the ‘pride’ thus encouraging the lions to engage in natural play and hunting behaviours whilst on these walks.
- To provide our lions with the best quality of care, thus avoiding uncommon behaviour. We provide our lions with triggering enrichment to encourage natural and instinctive behaviour, while also monitoring the behaviour and health anomalies using the data collection sheets. The purpose of behaviour enrichment is to keep our lions mobile, alert and energetic, while in their enclosures. We aim to contribute our ideas and findings to science and for the benefit of other captive animal establishments.
- To ensure that our lion enclosures are clean and secure, providing our lions with a safe living environment.
- To remove any items that could be dangerous or harmful to the lions and fix any broken equipment within the enclosures, such as lion platforms. We also make sure all fencing is secure and in order.
Meat Preparation & Lion Enclosure Water
- To provide our lions with the most suitable nutritional diet and to ensure all lions are hydrated at all times.
- Meat is measured and distributed to each lion depending on their size, weight and other factors of the individual lions to ensure each is receiving the correct amount. Every lion is monitored, and their food intake is regularly assessed. For extra nutrients; “Carnivore Mix” – a pre-mixed bag of crushed vitamins and minerals is added to the meat.
- To make sure the water troughs are cleaned and filled at all times.
- To further our conservation efforts by educating the local community on of the importance of wildlife conservation practices, methods and activities.
- To engage with local schools with the aim of changing people’s perception of conservation as a whole.
- Volunteers conduct regular conservation lessons, to expand the pupils understanding of conservation and to encourage pupils to become passionate for saving wildlife and getting involved with our conservation initiatives.
Who is ALERT?
ALERT is our proud partner and non-profit organization dedicated to the future of the African Lion and conserving them for many more generations to come. Alert is also the brains behind our mission to Release Lions Back into the Wild.
ALERT established the Release into the Wild program at Antelope Park in 2004. Developed by highly experienced and qualified conservationists, alongside leading expert PhD researchers; This world-first initiative, which is currently only a micro-scale of what has the potential to develop into, could ultimately provide a solution for the decline in the lion population and expand further across Africa.
Release Program: Stage 1
We selected two of our resident lions at Antelope Park to breed together and produce cubs, who are raised by our brilliant and experienced lion handlers. These cubs are slowly introduced to humans, through supervised and monitored cub sits with these handlers present. We welcome our volunteers to take part in this activity.
We do on occasion re-home cubs from countries such as South Africa, in situations where these cubs are not being properly looked after. Our current set of walking cubs in Victoria Falls are an example of this.
Once these cubs are a little older, they are introduced to lion walks. These walks are devised to copy exactly how a young cub would become accustomed to their natural surroundings and bush in the wild. Our volunteers go with the cubs on these walks, to create the vibe of a “pride.” This pride essence encourages the cubs to explore their natural instincts further and engage in natural play.
The purpose of these walks is more than just to encourage our cubs to engage with their natural and innate instincts. We are also dedicated to our mission in spreading the word about the dwindling lion population, to encourage others to become part of our mission to put a stop to the decline. These close and unique opportunities with our lions have the potential to encourages others to become passionate for lions and to raise awareness of the current situation that lions face. Our walking lions act as ambassadors to wild lions. These walks also provide vital income to support and fund the later phases of the program, with our primary aim to reintroduce lions back into the wild.
This phase of the program is also proving a very successful one, as demonstrated by one of our cubs, Lala Mika, who took down a fully-grown wildebeest at just 14 months old, all on her own! Putting her natural and innate instincts into practice, Lala Mika is proof to show that a lion’s instincts are not affected by interaction with humans in their early life.
These cubs will walk with humans until they reach an age where their behaviours become more unpredictable. Once they reach this point, the cubs move onto Phase 1, Part 2, where they explore their natural hunting instincts on a larger scale.
Where do we offer these walks? Victoria Falls
Release Program: Stage 1 Part 2 (Experience the Chase)
Once our cubs finish their walking careers, they go to the next phase, exploring their hunting abilities. This is an amazing opportunity for our volunteers to witness the cubs’ natural instincts come to life, even more than they would do on a lion walk. Our lions are free to roam the park, following one of our vehicles to practice their natural instincts and behaviours within our park. The human interaction is taken out and the cubs are now at a more mature age, where their hunting instincts are fully kicking in. You could be lucky enough to see one of our cubs make a kill!
It is at night when our lions are most active. This is the time where you have the best chance to see a lion make a kill. With our impressive 40% kill rate on these encounters; the chances of seeing this are pretty good.
This phase is very important for demonstrating how our cubs’ instincts, even after they have experienced interaction with humans interaction, are still intact.
Where does this part take place? Antelope Park
Release Program: Stage 2 (Introducing our semi-wild pride)
Lions with the most desirable characteristics for surviving in the wild are selected for release into a semi-wild environment; our 400-acre fenced and managed release site, where they are left to their own devices to function as a wild pride and produce offspring.
All human involvement is removed. These cubs will never experience human involvement. While the parents (who were captive-bred) will not be chosen for the release back into the wild, it is the offspring they produce who will be released, as they will not have experienced any form of human interaction. It is the mixture of captive-bred lions and wild-born cubs, that form our semi-wild pride, known as the Ngamo Pride at Antelope Park. Once these captive-bred lions enter the site, they will also no longer experience human interaction. This is now a fully-functioning pride, living as any other wild pride would.
The Ngamo Pride have already shown their effectiveness and success as a semi-wild pride. The 11 lions in the pride have killed over 600 wild game in the release site at Antelope Park. Our aim is to release the 4 wild lionesses born in the release site, into national parks, which forms Phase 3 of the program.
Our volunteers are an important part of this phase, as they collect data during research sessions, from the safety of our research vehicle. It is during these research sessions where our volunteers have the chance to witness how this semi-wild pride operates, as well as their behaviours, pride dynamics and physical traits.
Where does this phase take place? Antelope Park
Release Program: Stage 3 (Reintroducing into The Wild)
The final phase of our ground-breaking release program. After over 10 years of research to ensure and confirm their stability as a pride, the 4 lionesses who were born as wild cubs as part of our semi-wild pride, are translocated ahead of being introduced into a fenced, secure and protected game and national park.
ALERT is on the look out of the most suitable national park or reserve, to release our 4 wild lionesses. We have 3 key points to make our release successful.
- Bonded Prides
- Disease Free
- DNA tested
Where this phase will happen? In the most suitable national park or reserve, that is looking to support us in restoring the declining lion population.
Victoria Falls Highlights & Excursions
Not much can beat the roar of Africa, but even less can beat the flavours of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe holds a very special place in our hearts. As our home, we are very proud to represent Zimbabwe and all its glory
The most popular activity is also one filled with adrenaline and emotion! Let the Zambezi river take you on the most thrilling ride of your life and connect with nature in ways you never thought possible. Are you ready?
Terrifying. Breathtaking. Absolutely crazy. The best thing in life! There are so many ways to describe this. For some people, it’s the best bungee in the world.
For some, it’s a must do! For the rest of the world, this is just crazy! Jump off and free fall for about 70m towards the rocks and river below. Hopefully, you’ll survive to tell the story! Just kidding!
This zip line is not like all others. Here, the zip line is not horizontal; it is at an extreme angle so once you let go you will be accelerating downhill at speeds of over 100km/h. Who’s ready?
FLIGHT OF ANGELS
Take advantage of this huge opportunity to see the mighty Victoria Falls from the best angle there is, above and beyond!
This is the ultimate infinity pool and one of the most exciting experiences you can embark on. Swim and lean over on the edge to see the 100-meter waterfall drop. Put that swimwear on and do it!
If you are looking for a peaceful experience, an abundance of wildlife and the most magnificent sunset from a luxury cruise boat, then this activity is right for you!
Enjoy more than just a fabulous dinner in the most popular restaurant in Victoria Falls. Specializing in a superb selection of traditional Zimbabwean dishes, The Boma also incorporates traditional dancers and singers and even an extravagant drum show.
About Fuller Forest (Victoria Falls)
Our volunteer village is nestled in Fuller Forest – 4000 acres of pristine forest estate, surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. You will stay in our spacious and authentic safari tents of 4-6 people with a large ablution block just a few steps away.
In your free time, you can enjoy the volunteer lounge overlooking the watering hole and your quintessential bush surroundings. Enjoy 3 wholesome meals a day, freshly prepared by our onsite chefs and build friendships with fellow volunteers.
It’s only a 10-minute drive to Victoria Falls Town, which boasts a variety of restaurants, bars, shops, steps from as well as the magnificent falls themselves. The forest is also only a 10-minute drive from the Victoria Falls international airport.
So, you have the best of both – immersed into the tranquillity of the African bush, surrounded by wildlife, our resident lions & nature; whilst moments away from the hustle and bustle of Victoria Falls, a tourist hotspot with a vibrant atmosphere and unique opportunities.
You will be waking up to the sounds of crickets and birds every day, the lions roaring, or elephants trumpeting. Here, each day will offer exciting new experiences and surprises
Our Start Dates for 2019 are:
- 7 & 21 October
- 4 & 18 November
- 2,16 & 30 December
Our Start Dates for 2020 are:
- 6, 13 & 27 January
- 10 & 24 February
- 9 & 23 March
- 6 & 20 April
- 4 & 18 May
- 1, 15 & 29 June
- 6, 13, 20 & 27 July
- 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 August
- 7 & 21 September
- 5 & 19 October
- 2, 16 & 30 November
- 14 & 28 December
|Duration||Cost GBP||Cost USD|
|1 Week||£ 769||$ 1,007|
|2 Weeks||£ 1,099||$ 1,440|
|3 Weeks||£ 1,396||$ 1,829|
|4 Weeks||£ 1,691||$ 2,215|
|5 Weeks||£ 1,987||$ 2,603|
|6 Weeks||£ 2,282||$ 2,989|
|7 Weeks||£ 2,578||$ 3,377|
|8 Weeks||£ 2,873||$ 3,764|
|9 Weeks||£ 3,169||$ 4,151|
|10 Weeks||£ 3,465||$ 4,539|
|11 Weeks||£ 3,760||$ 4,926|
|12 Weeks||£ 4,056||$ 5,313|
Lion Conservation Project FAQs
How endangered is the lion population?
Lions have been declared as vulnerable species. Lions now occupy just 8% of the land they once dominated. 80 years ago, 200,000 lions were roaming the wild (WWF Living Planet Report 2016.)
Today, it is understood to be to just 22,00 wild lions remaining. That’s a 43% decline in the last 25 years alone! (1993-2018.)
What are the biggest threats facing the lion population?
- A loss of habitat: Lions have lost 92% of the territory they once roamed. This drastic reduction of their natural environment has caused a decrease in prey and food sources.
- Human-wildlife conflict – the biggest issue. Lions who roam outside of fenced or protected areas are exposed to less natural prey and turn to farm livestock instead. On a continent where locals’ livestock is their wealth, African people who have seen their wealth and therefore livelihoods destroyed, turn to create traps to kill the lions that harmed their livestock and livelihood. This is a major focus of our conservation efforts, to overcome the conflict between local people and the surrounding wildlife.
- The disease has been a dominant contributing factor to the vast decline in the lion population in the last few years. Diseases including feline leukaemia virus, bovine tuberculosis and morbillivirus have severely harmed South Africa and its lion population. A combination of inbreeding, as a result of small population growth, has also caused genetic problems and therefore, further problems to the already dwindling population.
Is it safe to work around lions?
Working around any lion (captive or wild) comes with its risks. However, the safety of our volunteers is of our utmost priority. You will be accompanied by experienced animal handlers whenever you are in close contact with lions. We advise you to use your common sense and remember that you are working around wild animals, not domestic cats!
Our lions are not tame but are safe to interact with until a certain age/ point. By following the advice and instructions of our experienced handlers and remain aware of your surroundings at all times, you can have an incredible and safe experience around some of Africa’s most iconic animals.
Why this lion conservation program?
- You will be part of the team, implementing our innovative conservation efforts and contributing towards securing the future of the incredible African Lion.
- You will assist in vital park management and lion upkeep.
- You will have the opportunity to take our conservation efforts further, out to the local communities as part of our mission to overcome human-wildlife conflict.
- Experience the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk alongside side the incredible African Lion, experience and memory that will last a time life; as well as a range of wildlife-based activities.
- You will meet people from all over the globe and create amazing new friendships, while also experiencing the best of what Victoria Falls has to offer (and trust us, there is a ton on offer!)