Walking with Lions
I thought I ought to explain this photo on my cover page. It was taken in Zimbabwe, near Victoria Falls. It is one of my favourite travel shots of all time.
Yes, I am walking with a lion. Its not something you can do every day and it is without a doubt one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. It is also a controversial experience. Generally speaking, wild animals should be left to be just that …..wild.
However, Africa’s lion population is in a dramatic decline. Their numbers have dropped eighty to ninety per cent in the last thirty years.The Lion Encounter programme is one way of addressing that decline. It is one of Africa’s leading programmes to ethically introduce the cubs of captive bred lions into the wild.
The programme has four key stages:
- The cubs are taken into the bush and walked to familiarise them with the bush environment. At this stage the staff and volunteers who work with them are the dominant and protective members of the ‘pride’ . At around 18 months to 2 and a half, human contact is removed.
- The young lions are released into a pride in a large enclosure. There is no human contact.
- The pride is relocated to a larger area with different species and left to breed and exist in the wild.
- Cubs are born and raised by the pride in their natural environment. Later they may be relocated to other parts of Africa.
Why walk with the Lions? When you walk with the cubs you are effectively part of their pride. You join them as they learn about the bush …they may come across other animals and test their hunting skills …its all about their learning experience.
However its also about yours! Its an opportunity to raise awareness of this magnificent creature’s plight …not just that…but also its an opportunity to contribute to the conservation programme. The money you pay for your experience goes towards food, vet’s bills and the cost of establishing a safe release site. Release site’s don’t come cheap. They’re upwards of half a million dollars. If you have the time you can also become a hands on volunteer.
This was, hands down, one of the most wondrous and moving experiences of my life.
The following slide show is just a taste of the magic Africa has to offer. The shots were taken by us on a Canon EOS 70D with an 80 – 200mm lens, in Namibia, Zimbabwe and in Botswana’s, Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta. We’re escorting another small group to Africa in August 2018, the highlight of which we hope will be an unforgettable experience with the Gorillas in the mountains of Uganda. If you’d like to know more about that contact BonVoyage Cruises and Travel. (+6493686800)