Lion rehabilitation volunteering in South Africa

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Departure information

This trip can be 2 - 12 weeks long can start on the 1st or 3rd Friday of every month, all year round.
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Lion rehabilitation volunteering in South Africa

Environment

Background to the project:

This rescue project is run by a husband and wife who heard about the plight of lions that were living in cages, bred for canned hunting. The lions were in an appalling state, hungry and emaciated. There were 90 of them. Even though they were stretched financially, they rescued 5 of the lions by buying them and took them to their Game Reserve to rehabilitate them and then provide them with a semi-wild home for the rest of their lives.

But that wasn't enough for them. There were 85 other starving lions who were going to die at the hands of hunters. So, working in conjunction with wildlife professionals and support from local authorities, the project has taken over the previous breeding and hunting facility, along with the 90 lions that were living in dire conditions. Found starving and extremely thin, the initial priority has been to feed and allow the lions to get back to their optimal weight and health.

They are also erecting much larger enclosures and semi-wild enclosures (wild camps), which are enormous compared to what the lions have had to live in previously. The lions will be undergoing their rehabilitation in a safe sanctuary setting, with some of them starting out in smaller camps, to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.

As these lions have been captive bred, they are familiar with human interaction. Sadly, in the petting trade, cubs are generally taken away from their mothers at around 3 weeks old and will never see them again. Humans (usually paying guests) are used as ‘surrogate mothers’ to the cubs. This, along with the fact that the lion industry has irresponsibly bred lions so badly, means that the gene pool/quality is adversely affected, and they can never be released back into natural wild areas. The reason for this is that if they were to breed with wild lions, this would have disastrous consequences for the future of wild lion populations.

Hence, the end-goal aim of this project is to rehabilitate these lions back into a safe, semi-wild environment, using the huge camps as semi-free-roaming areas for rescued lions to live out their years in a more safe and natural environment.

POSITIVE EFFECTS TRAVELLERS HAS ON THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT:

We provide our volunteers with many tips on how to be a responsible traveller regarding the environmental impact they have.

We want you to be immersed in the culture, by living and working with local people. We work with local communities, local charities, local government bodies and local schools. We also often partner with local organisations whom we have vetted to ensure that they are committed to the projects they run, that they have the same responsible attitude to the local community that we do, that they are eco-friendly and have ethical policies.

In our projects and in our headquarters offices, we take an environmentally responsible attitude towards recycling and reusing of waste products. We encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions via a carbon offset scheme. Our volunteers are given pre-departure Information that encourages them to minimise waste and reduce their use of water and electricity, in other words, to live sensitively in the environment that they’re working in.

Travellers also gives donations as and when required by projects. This is often done through our charitable arm, The Bridge The Gap Foundation.

Our projects enable vital conservation, research, care and education work to take place directly where it is most needed. For example, the schools where we teach English very often have no other English teachers, and so they rely on us for continued lessons. For example, we kept a Species Survival Conservation project in South Africa afloat until completion after it was threatened by lack of funds. Our volunteers contribute, all over the world, to projects that would not exist without them.

Community

This project is geared towards helping the local wildlife AND helping local community. The help of volunteers in projects such as this is of enormous benefit. We have long-standing relationships with local people, making this a sustainable, on-going project. Your work here contributes to, and helps to continue, the long chain of worthwhile achievements in this community.

Social Responsibility:
The information we provide prepares our volunteers for their placement and how to deal with the local people. It also briefs our volunteers on the Do’s and Don’ts and ensures that they are aware of the possible impact of their behaviour.

Cultural sensitivity:
Volunteers receive an induction and orientation on arrival which covers things like being sensitive to the culture you’re in, everyday processes which will be different to what you’re accustomed to, how to have the maximum beneficial imprint and the minimum negative impact.

We stress the importance of responsible tourism, cultural differences and acceptable/unacceptable conduct. Where appropriate, volunteers are briefed on local customs, particularly those that are different to the volunteer’s accepted norm.

Economic Responsibility
For nearly 25 years our volunteers have lived in the local community, spent their money with local traders and brought funding to the projects they work with. Travellers employs local staff and works with local support staff. This helps to fund the project directly and through bringing money into the local community.

The organisations we work with are often struggle to financially support and maintain the work they do, so every penny raised makes a real difference.
Our aim is to create always a Win-Win-Win situation in terms of the benefits for, (a) the local communities and institutions you work in, (b) our Volunteers, i.e. you, and (c) for Travellers. We do not embark on any project that is not beneficial to all three of these stakeholders.

Before our Volunteers depart on their projects, we provide them with comprehensive information about their project and country:
(1) A detailed Programme Guide to Volunteering which we’ve produced in-house.
(2) A detailed Country Factfile,
(3) A detailed Project Description Booklet specific to their Project.
(4) Safety Book: This book is produced by Travellers and has common-sense but necessary general safety tips while travelling, as well as safety advice relevant to your specific destination country.

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