Hwange Lion Conservation Safari
- The safari starts and ends at the Victoria Falls Airport
- Wild Eye will be donating 41% off profits from this safari ($ 2050) to Panthera
- The cost per single guest includes a conservation donation of $ 1500 per guest
- 3 Nights Khulu Bush Camp
- 4 Nights Davisson's Camp
- All meals, local beverages, conservation fees, activities, return transfers from Victoria Falls
- Co-hosted by Panthera's Dr Paul Funston
- Interaction with local Anti-poaching Units
- Interaction with Lion Guardian "Long Shields"
- Interaction with local communities on the periphery of Hwange National Park
- 2 Presentations by Dr Paul Funston on the status of Lion populations and conservation threats in Africa
- 1 Evening Presentation by Brent Stapelkamp of the Soft Foot Alliance on human wildlife conflict management in Hwange
Dates: November 20, 2019 - November 27, 2019
Guide: Andrew Beck
Cost: $7,750.00 per single guest (inc conservation donation)
Max number of Photographers: 4
Lions have undergone a catastrophic decline and are on the brink of extinction in all but the largest and best managed national parks.
Just over a century ago, there were more than 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, there are only about 20,000; lions are extinct in 26 African countries and have vanished from over 90 percent of their historic range. Though lions still exist in 27 African countries and one Asian country, only seven countries are known to each contain more than 1,000 lions.
Lions are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In West Africa, the species is now classified as “Critically Endangered. The species is threatened by the illegal bushmeat trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable trophy hunting, and conflict with local people due to the real or perceived threat lions pose to livestock.
With this Hwange Lion Conservation Safari, Wild Eye in collaboration with Panthera will be giving 4 guests the opportunity to visit two locations in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park where, along with Panthera’s Dr Paul Funston and The Soft Foot Alliance’s Brent Stapelkamp, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the threats which face wild Lion populations in the region.
Where Do we stay?
This Hwange Lion Conservation will combine two lodges in completely different settings in and adjacent to Hwange national Park Itself. Flanked by communities to the north and consumptive utilisation zone to the east, our safari will place us in the heart of the “conflict zone”.
Khulu Lodge is located on a private 6 000ha conservation area bordered by Hwange national Park to the West and rural Communities to the North East.
From here we head south-west to Davison’s Camp in the heart of Wilderness Safaris Private Concession. Nestled under a grove of ancient false mopane trees, Davison’s Camp is situated in a remote, private corner of Hwange National Park. Named after the founder of Hwange National Park and its first warden, Ted Davison, the camp overlooks an extremely productive waterhole that attracts a variety of plains game and predators.
Whilst lion populations in this region are not exposed to as many direct threats as those outside of the National Park Boundary, the areas to the east often see young dispersal males leaving the confines of the National Park, emphasising their importance for the long term conservation of the species.
What are the Threats to Lion Populations in this Region?
As humans develop wild habitats, lions and humans come in increasingly closer contact. Livestock begins to replace the lion’s natural prey, fueling human-lion conflict in which lions are killed in retaliation or because of their perceived threat to human livelihood. Rampant bushmeat poaching depletes prey populations and poses a threat to lions themselves; they are often caught and killed in wire snares and traps set for their prey. Dramatic habitat loss and fragmentation due to human development confines lions to isolated islands of land, increasing their risk of extinction. Poorly managed trophy hunting and the illegal hunting of lions for body parts used in local and international (primarily Asian) traditional medicine are both contributing to lion population declines.
How is Panthera planning to save the Lion?
Through Project Leonardo, Panthera aims to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 lions. This goal necessitates protecting and connecting core lion populations across Africa. Panthera is collaborating with statutory authorities, local governments and communities, and NGOs to address traditional killing of lions in local cultures, mitigate human-lion conflict, including retaliatory persecution, address bushmeat poaching, and reduce levels of legal trophy hunting. Panthera is developing and implementing collaborative conservation strategies in the most important areas throughout the lion’s range, with a particular focus on Africa’s large national parks. Adequately protecting and managing these parks is critical for the long-term conservation of the lion. Lions do not readily co-exist with humans, so as Africa’s human populations continue to grow, it is likely that many lion populations will retreat to national parks.
Who are the Beneficiaries of this Conservation Safari?
Guests joining this safari will be making a minimum donation of $ 1 500 each (a total of $ 6 000).
In addition to this, Wild Eye will be contributing 41% of the profits from the safari ($ 2050) towards these organisations. A total of $ 8 050 which will be channeled directly into the following projects in the region:
- Panthera $ 7050 (87.57%)
- Lion Guardians (Long Shields)
- Conservation Wildlife Forum and Anti-poaching
- Mother Africa Trust $ 1 000 (12.43%)
- Day 1: Arrival in Victoria Falls and transfer by road to Hwange National Park & Khulu Bush Camp (approx 3 hours)
- Afternoon Game Drive and Introductory presentations by Dr Paul Funston and Andrew Beck
- Day 2: Morning Game Drive Drive and visit with the Longshield Lion Guardians and mobile boma’s established in the area.
- We will learn how the Lion Guardians Operate and how the mobile bomas are benefiting villagers and their crops with regards to eutrophication of the fields and in limiting human animal conflict in the region.
- Afternoon Drive along Deadvlei followed by sundowners and an evening presentation by Brent Stapelkamp around the history of human lion conflict in the region with specific reference to Cecil & Jericho
- Day 3: Morning Drive followed by a visit to Brent and the Soft Foot Alliance headquarters
- During this morning visit we will get an opportunity to see the Soft Foot Alliance’s conflict mitigation strategy of up-skilling of young men to work as herders as well as their sustainable living model in practice.
- Afternoon drive and visit to the Painted Dog Conservation headquarters where we will be educated on the de-snaring efforts and how their work is helping to reduce threats on the local lion and wild dog population.
- Sundowners and evening presentation by Dr Paul Funston on Lion populations and the impact of Trophy Hunting
- Day 4: Morning drive/short walk along Deadvlei before breakfast and transfer by road through Hwange national Park to Davison’s Camp (approx. 3 hours)
- Afternoon game Drive
- Day 5 to 7: We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in search of the big cats of the region with a specific focus on the lion prides that cal the eastern edge of Hwange national park home.
- Dr Paul Funston will provide interesting commentary on the biology, behavioural ecology and interspecific species competition on a regular but informal basis. Photographing the wildlife of the region will be our primary focus on this second portion of the itinerary.
- Day 8: Morning Game Drive, breakfast and return transfer by road from Davison’s Camp to Victoria Falls (approx. 6 hours)
People You Will Meet
DR Paul Funston
Panthera’s Senior Lion and Cheetah Program Director, Dr. Paul Funston is an internationally recognized large carnivore biologist, with a strong interest in how ecosystems function and how these can be maintained in the face of human development. Born in South Africa, Paul studied Zoology and Botany at the University of Natal, and completed his PhD at the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute. Paul’s PhD work focused on predator-prey relationships and territorial behavior of African lions in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Paul spent many years in the field as a post-doc researcher and consultant, managing multi-disciplinary research programs contributing to the management of large national parks in southern Africa, including three years spent managing the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Lion Project in South Africa/Botswana, before a decade in academia. He was Associate Professor at Tshwane University of Technology, Department of Nature Conservation, where he developed a rangewide lion conservation program. Paul has published over 50 scientific papers, numerous reports, two books, and scripted several documentary films, some of which he has also appeared in as a wildlife expert.
The Soft foot alliance is a new Trust dedicated to improving the lives and landscapes of people living on the boundary of Hwange national park and at the same time achieving a sustainable co-existence with wildlife. The Soft foot alliance serves to design and implement long-term sustainable solutions that promote human-wildlife co-existence. Lion, Hyena, Elephant, Baboon and Honey Badger are the main focal species as they impact people’s livelihoods on the park’s boundaries.
By designing actions that firstly improve the lives and the livelihoods of the people living with these animals and, secondly promote the conservation of the animal, we hope to achieve co-existence between the two.
Conservation was my first passion and it was during my practical year of studies in Game Ranch Management (NDip, BTech) that I discovered another field which I simply had to explore: photography. After 3 years of guiding in Madikwe Game Reserve I left the bush to further my studies in Ecology & Conservation at Wits University (BSc. Hons, MSc) and after completing my research in conjunction with the Endangered Wildlife Trust I started my own private guiding/travel agency.
Three years later, and after already having dove-tailed with Gerry Van der Walt on numerous photographic safaris & courses, Wild Eye was born. The thrill of witnessing some of natures rarest and most exciting moments is made even better by being able to capture it all on camera one frame at a time and being able to share the experience with others.
I believe that my unique background and experience in conservation and field guiding provides a wealth of information extending beyond just that of photography, adding to each and every one of the photographic safaris I lead.
The Long Shields
This ‘Lion Guardian’ programme has enjoyed significant success in reducing human-lion conflicts. Following the notable achievements of the Kenyan programme, a number of similar projects have been initiated in community areas across Africa, including Ruaha and Ngorongoro in Tanzania and around Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The Hwange programme has been named the ‘Long Shields’ and is run by the Hwange Lion Research Project with sponsorship from Panthera, Great Wall Motors and SATIB Trust. The programme name has local resonance; in the late 19th Century the Matabele were known as ‘the people of the long shields,’ so named because the fearsome warriors of the tribe carried tall rawhide shields for protection in battle.
Hwange Anti Poaching Team
Panthera and Wilderness Safari’s have just entered an exciting new partnership with Imvelo and SATIB Conservation Trust to manage the Scorpion Anti-poaching Unit operational in the Wilderness traversing area in the south-east of Hwange National Park. Panthera already supports the APU with the SMART law enforcement monitoring tool, but will now take a more hands on approach to the anti-poaching effort. Dr Funston will take our group to visit the APU camp at Wexcau. During 2016 the unit removed 250 snares during 120 patrols and reported incidents of commercial poaching, apprehending four poachers and recovering tusks from poached elephants.
Mother Africa Trust
The Mother Africa Trust was founded in 2006 as a way to build a better future in Zimbabwe. The vision for the Trust is to create a way for people to “give back” to both the environment and to the people of Zimbabwe. The Mother Africa Trust seeks to make a positive difference in the areas of education and cultural and environmental research and conservation. The Mother Africa Trust works with volunteers from around the world at the same time, actively sourcing equipment and materials for our conservation, research and education projects. Always ready to learn and improve, our team are widely experienced, passionate and committed to building Zimbabwe in a sustainable, ethical and compassionate manner.
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