Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lion Alert Livingstone

Having heard about this charity from a friend and having read on their offer to "Walk with the Kings", it was something that was on my radar while in Livingstone. I am normally a little skeptical about these type of animal "encounters" as sometimes the animals are being mistreated or exploited for the tourist's benefit. However having read through the Lion Alert website and having talked to people who have visited I decided to go and see (and potentially get some REALLY cool pictures). And so I booked the encounter with my hostel and was picked up the following afternoon at 2pm.

Lion Alert's main aim is to replenish the lion population in Africa. Our guide was more than willing to answer any questions we had and we watched an informational video before our walk. The lion population in Africa is in decline, for example it is believed that there are around 25 lions in Malawi while parts of Zambia are believed to only contain 50 lions. Read more about the threats to lions on the Lion Alert threat page but as with most animals that are under threat it is normally interaction with humans (both direct, from humas killing lions that have attacked livestock, and indirect, from a loss of their living environment as the human population of an area expands) that is the main problem.

Lion Alert's aim is to replenish the lion population throughout Africa. How they hope to achieve this is by breeding lions and releasing them into national parks around Africa. In the Livingstone branch they are 4 years into their programme. The programme consists of 3 steps. Firstly the bought 2 lions from South Africa which had been raised in captivity and used them for breeding. The idea is that the cubs from these 2 original lions are the ones that you can walk with. They are brought out every morning and evening and during the day are kept in a large enclosure. Once they reach approx 18 months they can no longer be brought out walking and they are released into a 500 acre area where they form their own prides and have cubs themselves. These bubs will have no human interaction and will effectively be wild animals and these are the animals that will be used to repopulate parks around Africa.

The experience was definitely not something I will forget easily and it is reassuring that the money spent will go back to preserving these beautiful animals. 

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