Monday, April 6, 2009
African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program I am about to spend one month volunteering at the most incredible place on earth…Lion Encounter. This page will tell you all about it. It’s a program that I would encourage any of you who love wildlife to consider supporting. It’s called the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program. It’s run through a program called ALERT – African Lion and Environmental Research Trust.
ALERT’s primary goal is to support the 4-stage rehabilitation program of the African Encounter Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program by raising awareness and funds to source, secure and prepare suitable release sites for the lions. The lions that I will spend my time with are in stage one.
Stage One (Rehabilitation Phase One) Cubs born in our breeding centers are removed from their mother at three weeks old. Our experience indicates that this increases the survival chances of cubs, and is a practice used by most captive breeding programs among carnivores. We take the place of dominant members of their pride and train them only to the point that they are safe for us to walk with them. This enables us to take groups from six week old cubs into the Bush as often as possible with experienced handlers. The lions are given every opportunity to build their confidence in their natural environment both during the day and at night. As their experience grows, they start to take an interest in the game species they encounter on the walks, and by the age of 18 months are able to stalk and bring down many of the smaller and young antelope. By two years, the lions are seasoned hunters, and we give them plenty of opportunity to hone their hunting skills.
Stage Two (Rehabilitation Phase Two) In stage two the lions are given the opportunity to develop a natural pride social system in a minimum 500-acre enclosure (they are moved to this new enclosure). The have plenty of game to hunt, and their progress is monitored closely; however all human contact is removed. Lions remain in stage two until such time that the pride is stable and self-sustaining. Prior to release into stage two some, if not all, of the lions are radio-collared and all are micro-chipped for identification, DNA and disease tested and vaccinated.
Stage Three (Rehabilitation Phase Three) In stage three, the pride from stage two is translocated into a managed eco-system of a minimum 10,000 acres, where: — there are no resident human beings — there are sufficient prey species to hunt — there are competitive species such as hyena The lions in stage three will give birth to cubs, which will be raised by the pride in the managed ecosystem, which is very close to their natural environment. These lions born in stage three with all the human avoidance behaviors of wild lions will develop the skills that will enable their re-introduction into appropriate game reserves, conservancies and national parks across the African continent.
Stage Four (Reintroduction / Reinforcement Phase) In stage four, lions born in stage three can be released into the wild in several natural social groups as required by the needs of the release area. We are able to provide: –self-sustaining mixed gender prides — female only groups that can be integrated with existing wild prides using proven boma-bonding techniques — Male-only coalitions to add natural gene flow to an existing wild population These lions are the hope of a future of the African lion. It’s an excellent program and could use funding. If you are interested in learning how the program got started…check out this website http://www.lionalert.org/Lion%20Release%20Program.pdf