WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION
Project Description and History:
Currently there 1000's of lions living in canned-hunting facilities throughout South Africa, which are predominantly stocked by the 'cub-petting' trade. Majority of these facilities are over-stocked, with lions living in cramped and horrendous conditions.
Working in conjunction with wildlife professionals and support from local authorities, the project has taken over a previous breeding and hunting facility, along with 90 lions that were living in dire conditions. Found starving and extremely thin, the initial priority has been to feed and allow the lions to get back to their optimal weight and health.
They are also erecting much larger enclosures and semi-wild enclosures (wild camps), which are enormous compared to what the lions have had to live in previously. The lions will be undergoing their rehabilitation in a safe sanctuary setting, with some of them starting out in smaller camps, to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
As these lions have been captive bred, they are familiar with human interaction. Sadly, in the petting trade, cubs are generally taken away from their mothers at around 3 weeks old and will never see her again. Humans (usually paying guests) are used as ‘surrogate mothers’ to the cubs. This, along with the fact that the lion industry has irresponsibly bred lions so badly, means that the gene pool/quality is adversely affected, and they can never be released back into natural wild areas. The reason for this is that if they were to breed with wild lions, this would have disastrous consequences for the future of wild lion populations.
Hence, the end-goal aim of this project is to rehabilitate these lions back into a safe, semi-wild environment, using the huge camps as semi-free-roaming areas for rescued lions to live out their years in a more safe and natural environment.
The current focus on the project is to secure the lives of the rescued lions. Feeding alone requires over 500kg of food a day for the 90 lions, so you can imagine the amount of preparation and feeding schedules that this involves! Your time at the sanctuary is invaluable to the project and they desperately need your assistance with this mammoth task.
The next phase is the building and erection of the semi-free enclosures, which 0has already begun.
You’ll be involved with all of the rescued lions, assisting with feeding, cleaning enclosures and helping with the building of the new enclosures and camps.
When there are younger lions that have been rescued, they will be housed in smaller enclosures and reintroduced to the larger camps daily. You’ll be given training in how to practically assist and will work closely with the field-staff to really make a difference.
Other species that have also been rescued, and live in the sanctuary, include wolves, tigers, wild dogs, hyena, serval cats and many others as they regularly take in rescued wildlife.
Example of a Typical Daily Schedule:
Your work may include some or all of the following:
- Preparation of food and feeding lions and other animals
- Ensuring all animals have enough fresh water
- Cleaning out camps and enclosures
- Security checks of fences
- Sweeping the roads for foot prints. (The sand pathways around the reserve need to be swept in order for the anti-poaching patrols to notice any new footprints).
- Assisting with orphaned and injured wildlife. The project is a registered rehabilitation centre and often get brought orphaned and injured animals that require veterinary treatment and rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.
- Working with younger rescued animals, assisting with daily introduction to semi-free environments. This will occur as and when younger animals are admitted.
Please note: As you will be working with wild animals on a game reserve, you’ll need to remain open-minded and flexible as each day can bring on new challenges which they may need your assistance with.
You’ll also have an opportunity to help with the local community project for a few hours once a week.
Work might include helping at the local school or community centre where many past volunteers have run special workshops and classes about the local environment and wildlife. Other projects have also included the building of a football pitch and community centre which has helped create employment as well as social sports and recreational activities.
These activities have been successful in helping the project build and develop stronger and greater relations with the community, which is having a massive benefit on both the people and the wildlife.
On certain occasions you may be involved in wildlife monitoring and surveillance with a team member. This might include tracking and locating a particular species, mapping the sightings; collecting data; setting up camera traps or assisting with ongoing game counts. This part of the programme will give you the opportunity to observe the animals in their natural habitat.
Living on a game reserve, you may also have the opportunity to see some or all of the great variety of species living on the Reserve: Giraffe, Eland, Leopard, Kudu, Hyena, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbok, Ostrich, Impala, Duiker, Steenbok, Wild Dog, Aardwolf, Serval, Caracal, Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox and Crocodile!
You'll not only see some extraordinary sights, but you'll also learn a great deal about African Wildlife - and make a difference in the process! Your role and the types of work/activities you are given may vary depending on your skills, and what is required of you.