The aim of the project is to provide the reserve wardens and ecologists with detailed information about wildlife in the Selati Game Reserve. This information is used to evaluate the impact of re-introduced animals and to maintain balanced and sustainable ecosystems.
While the focus of their research is on a single pride of collared lion in the Selati Game Reserve, their volunteer wildlife research programme records and monitors the movements, behaviour, numbers, kills, and habituation of leopards, cheetah, elephant, and white rhino. This research will play a vital role in the management of conservation areas throughout South Africa.
The project is based in a spectacular privately-owned game reserve in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The Selati Game Reserve is on the Selati River, which flows into the Kruger National Park by way of several neighbouring game reserves.
Ecotourism in South Africa is on a steady rise and many landowners are rehabilitating farmland into wildlife and nature reserves. Creating and sustaining an ecosystem, especially one with so many habitats, requires an enormous amount of knowledge and painstaking research.
And that's where The Great Lion Project comes in: the project began in 2004 as a management research programme to assist the owners of these private game reserves to re-establish their land as prime wilderness areas.
The project's experienced reserve managers and conservationists have years of field experience. The work they do links ecology with the practical running of a nature reserve and this provides a rewarding educational wildlife volunteer programme.
By joining this project volunteers will be directly helping to protect a large range of diverse African species and their environment. Sustainable tourism that has a low impact is important to us. All work in the reserve is done in consideration of the local wildlife and local communities, with as little impact as possible on the land. All food is locally sourced from supermarkets and we keep vehicle journeys as low as possible in order to minimise CO2 emissions. Our team is native to the area and we all feel a close affinity to the reserve and its animals.
Ultimately our goal is to generate money from ecotourism that can be put directly back into our research and the reserve, whilst doing this we also want to minimise the impact that mass tourism often has on the beautiful African wildlife.
Our UK office is used to communicate with volunteers. We prepare volunteers before they depart. Volunteers can meet us virtually or visit us in our offices. We carry out preservation surveys to assess the suitability of the volunteers as they book. If they fail they are given rejection counselling and educated on the impacts their answers may have on our projects, people and animals. If they agree with our response they submit the survey again. This allows us to educate volunteers and screen them better. As a result we pride ourselves in sending quality volunteers to our projects.
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