There are very few experiences on the planet that allow you the exhilaration and opportunity to watch the majesty of one of the world’s most dangerous and revered big cats, the African Lion. Their skill, power, grace and poise is what has made these cats as iconic as they are today. Getting involved in the conservation of the majestic creatures is for those with a love for animals and a passion for nature, and conservation volunteering in Africa is the only way to go about showing that you care. These big cats need your help, and without it, they may not be around for future generations to admire.
Working with lions in Africa is not only for those with youth and exuberance on their side. Work abroad programs for adults are the ideal way to break away from the norm, and finally get to live out your days gone past travel dreams. Volunteering with lions is going to give you the opportunity to help save these animals that are at risk, pulling them back from the possibility of extinction in the wild. Through various research, tracking, monitoring, education and data collection activities and initiatives, you will be assisting local conservationist, as well as the local communities that share these big cats’ habitats, helping them to live more peacefully alongside these apex predators.
Each day, the lives of the conservation volunteers are posed with new challenges, and no two days are every the same. Enclosure cleaning and maintenance, helping with tours, informing guests about the animals and their behaviours, as well as shadowing the vet are all part of the daily operations of the projects you will be involved in, and you may even get the chance to work directly with these big cats.
Why the Need for Assistance?
Over the past number of decades, lions have had a hard time maintaining and stabilising their populations, and this is mainly due to the role of man within the lion’s natural habitat, not to mention the more sinister practices of poaching, the lion bone black market and the practices of canned and wild hunting in Africa. All these and more have made the future of the lion in Africa, a grave uncertainty. And it’s for these reasons that the projects that have been made available to our conservation volunteers are not linked to any of these ominous and destructive practices.
Wildlife organisations throughout Africa have found lions to be held captive in the most inhospitable conditions for these animals, having to spend their lives trapped in small, concrete enclosures, with the eventual outcome of being shot in a cage for the purposes of “sport”. This is where you can help. Signing up for a volunteer program with a reputable organisation like Intern Africa, is going to help place volunteers and participants in the right and ethically sound programs.
Programs that are concerned with the conservation, and not the exploitation, of the species, ensuring their survival for the generations and decades to come. Once on-board, so to speak, you will be learning from experienced and knowledgeable instructors and wildlife carers who are dedicated whole-heartedly to the plight of the African lion. These projects, as well as a few other volunteer in Africa programs, give volunteers the unique chance see these amazing creatures up close and personal. More than that, your financial contribution to these initiatives is going to help make inroads into the future sustainability of these projects, as well as help to build and educate the locals living in the surrounding communities. They are vital to the overall success of the conservation efforts in Africa.
Why Choose Lions for your African Conservation Experience?
Well, do we really need to answer that question? Lions are the torch bearers for all the animals in Africa, and has not been labelled the “King of the Jungle” for nothing now. Lions have been at the forefront of conservation efforts in Africa for as far back as can be remembered. Cherished for their coats, bones and exotic meat, while feeding man’s innate need to dominate everything, the lion is a creature that is in dire need of our protection and intervention in order to be around in the next 50 years, and is the ideal work abroad program for adults to be a part of.
You will have the opportunity to study lions and their behaviour in the wild, help to care for sick, orphaned and injured lions, all while learning about the issues that are close to the heart of conservation in Africa. Issue such as poaching, canned lion hunting and cub cuddling. The new array of skills that you are going to learn will make getting into any field of zoology, conservation, veterinary sciences or other animal care career much easier. And for those taking a gap year for over 50’s, it is the perfect off the beat track vacation and African lifestyle experience.
Your contribution to wildlife conservation in Africa is invaluable, and is an opportunity that is as life-changing as it is original. You will be working alongside like-minded people, under the direct supervision of wildlife care professionals and experts, gaining a new and unique perspective and first-hand insight into conservation and other practices. More than that, you will have the chance to discover Africa’s beauty away from the usual hordes of tourists, while learning and practicing ethical conservation techniques.
Tasks, Eligibility and What to Expect
No previous experience is necessary when applying to do your share of conservation volunteering with lions in Africa, and this opportunity that is open and available to all nationalities from around the globe, granted that you are able to acquire a visa for Southern Africa. Reading about and informing yourself as to exactly what projects are available for you to choose from is your proactive step to get the ball rolling. Keep in mind that although no prior experience is necessary to participate, you are going to be required to work hard, help out wherever you can, and remember that not each day is going to be like the last.
Training will be provided on-site, and is essential to your successful participation in your chosen project. Some days are going to be longer than others, this is just the nature of the work that we do, and any time spent helping out, is time spent making a real difference. The daily tasks of each project are ever changing and no two days are exactly the same. This is due to the changing needs of the animals, determined on a daily basis. The knowledge that you will gain from experienced staff and fellow volunteers is recognised internationally, putting our conservation volunteers ahead of the animal care game.
Daily tasks include:
assisting in the daily operations and running of the care centre or sanctuary
helping with maintenance, mending broken fences and cleaning the enclosures
assist with educational activities
the collection and preparation of food for the adult lions
giving educational talks to visitors and the local community members, explaining and highlighting the need for proper conservation efforts
In addition to the tasks listed above, conservation volunteering will involve the continued and on-going research and conservation efforts that are currently being conducted, while also having the opportunity to accommodate and educate school groups and reserve guests around the practices and ethics of conservation in Africa. All meals are usually prepared for the volunteers, who will be staying in fully furnished accommodation, which includes air conditioning, with certain amenities, such as a swimming pool and Wi-Fi readily available.
Be Aware of….
The illegal and questionable lion trade comes with its ever-increasing demand for the trade of lion products, and as such there are a lot of projects out there that are not in it for the best interests of the animals. Marketing themselves as conservation projects, these unscrupulous practices are actually in a different kind of game all together. Educating yourself and making yourself aware of what these centres offer their volunteers will tell you all you need to know about what they are doing.
Lion Volunteer Programme Opportunity
Here is just one of the many programs that you can volunteer your time at to help conserve the Lion in Africa:
The Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary
Kevin Richardson found his world-renowned fame walking with his lions at his wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. Your time spent at the Reserve will see you involved in the maintenance needs in and around the Reserve, as well as taking care of the animals that are housed there, both permanently and temporarily. The sanctuary’s mission is to provide a self-sustaining African carnivore sanctuary with the ultimate purposes of education, awareness and funding. Located in the heart of the South African bush, the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary is ideal positioned to make an iconic difference in Africa’s conservation efforts.
This project carries no special skills or requirements necessary to participate, other than a love for animals and the outdoors, and as such is pretty much open to anyone. However, conservation volunteers need to be at least 18 years old to apply.
Tasks and duties
General working hours are between 7:30am and 16:30pm daily, with fluctuations due to the animals needs or hotter afternoons during the summer months. Around the greater farm area, bush cutting and clean ups are done regularly, cutting walking paths and clearing alien vegetation along the way. New fire breaks will be build and existing ones maintained, as well as the roads and river crossings.
Work at the sanctuary covers areas more focused on the animals themselves, and gets conservation volunteers involved in animal husbandry and enrichment activities, as well as their health. The cleaning and re-filling of water holes is a must, along with the daily preparation of food for the animals. Cleaning and removing ticks for the animals is as important as clearing away faecal matter and bones from their enclosures. This is done on a daily basis while the animals are locked away. You will also get the chance to experience Kevin walking with the lions up close and personal, giving you a real appreciation for these magnificent cats.
Having the chance to make a real and definitive difference in the world while, at the same time having the experience of a lifetime is what you are going to get from working in Africa with lions. The opportunity is there, all that’s waiting is you.