My Lion Encounter *Videos* – Giving U™
On the last day of my Acacia Africa 19-day Desert Tracker Safari, I spent a day volunteering at Lion Encounter / ALERT in Livingstone, Zambia.
The full day included a great opportunity for me to get to closer to the lions and build a better understanding of their habitat.
After morning coffee, me and about 8 others took two 8-month old lion cubs, Mawara and Mafara, out for an early morning stroll. The twin sisters couldn’t have been more different.
Mawara (or was it Mafara?) was the gentle one, letting up stroke her as she walked and kneel down to pet her behind her ears.
Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Lion Cub Walking: http://youtu.be/YinHM1hmW9Y
Mafara (or was it Mawara?) was the feisty one. She wouldn’t let anyone in her proximity, except our guide Mwiya, letting out a little snarl each time one of us got too close.
We were never in any danger though since we had a guide, park wardens (with guns), and the lion handlers all with us. We also were each given a long stick to distract the lions if necessary.
Check out Mafara growling at her reflection in the water’s edge. (So cute!) Apparently, by instinct, lions are caution of the water (think: crocodiles), so they usually keep a wide berth from an early age.
Can’t see this video? Click on this link: Lion Cub at Water’s Edge: http://youtu.be/rFg8ET8xZh0
In the late morning, I joined a group of volunteers for an anti-poaching snare sweep in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. There were 5 park rangers and Lion Encounter staff and 5 of us volunteers. All of the volunteers were in residence with Lion Encounter / ALERT for either 1 week to 2 months. I was the only day volunteer.
We walked in the hot park for about 1.5 hours, spread out about 10 feet apart looking for wire snares. The wire snares were almost impossible to see! Most were tied low on tree trunks. The poachers, locals living on the edge of the national park, were hoping to snag an animal’s leg or neck in the noose. They would then either eat or sell the wild game.
Luckily we didn’t find any animals, only empty snares. 10 animals saved!
After lunch, we had time for a quick dip in the pool before heading out to the last leg of my volunteer gig: research!
I was super excited about helping to conduct research and learn more about lion behavior firsthand. A small group of us were loaded into a safari truck and drove into the adjacent reserve where 6 lions, a pride, had just been released. Our job was to watch their every movement for about 1-2 hours.
My specific job was to compile an activity report, by watching a particular lion and note her activity every 2 minutes. I had a stop watch and a note book and I sat watching attentively….for about the first 10 minutes anyway.
My lion wasn’t actually doing anything. In fact none of the lions were because they had just made a kill the night before and they were still digesting. So we just watched as they laid under the shade of the trees. In my 1-hour activity report, my lion yawned once, and stared at us twice. That was it — 3 marks in the “activity” notebook.
This time in the truck gave me amble time to ask the main researcher Jackie all kinds of questions about lions. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon — especially when you consider some of the other volunteer duties that could have come my way, including meat preparation (chopping up mules) and enclosure maintenance (picking up poop and bones).
My day with Lion Encounter and ALERT (African Lion & Environmental Research Trust) was really rewarding. It the perfect type of volunteer activity, when you get out in the field, do a useful activity, meet like-minded people, and learn something new. Go for it!
Interested in your own stint volunteering with the lions? Watch the video of Suzanne from England tell why she’s a repeat volunteer. You can also sponsor a lion. For more information on volunteering and donations, contact ALRET at http://www.lionalert.org.
This activity was part of my Acacia Africa 19-day Desert Tracker safari from Cape Town, South Africa to Livingstone, Zambia. It was an unforgettable experience and I highly recommend you check them out if you’re planning an Africa adventure!
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 26th, 2011 and is filed under Hot Orgs.