African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT)
Melrose Farm, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) Victoria Falls Reviews
Lion Encounter Jan 18, 2013
One of my most memorable moments in Victoria Falls was the Lion Encounter. With ALERT you can do the lion walk safari and you get to interact with these wonderful big cats. I met two 18 months old brothers. Quite a couple of rascals.
You meet at the Masuwe Safari Lodge where you get a brief introduction to the program and how to behave in the presence of lions. These are things like: do not pull their ears. Who would ever pull a lions ears! I had no plans of becoming someones lunch.
The African Lion & Environmental Reaserch Trust (ALERT) was founded in 2005 to support the four-stage African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program and is a non-profit organization. ALERT promotes community action by raising awareness, motivating and empovering people to protect and restore their environment and improve livelihoods.
In 1975 it was 200.000 lions roaming around on the African savanna. In 2002 the population was estimated to somewhere between 23.000 and 39.000 animals. It is believed that the decline in the lion population is doing so in an even faster rate. This makes ALERTS program so important. Masuwe Estate is one of three places where ALERT is working with this 4 stage program.
A one hour walk with the lions will set you back USD110. Not cheap, but when you know the important work they do, it is a small contribution.
The African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program consists of 4 stages. Instead of me explaining these stages I have just copied the information from ALERTS website:
Stage One (Rehabilitation Phase One)
Cubs born in our breeding centres 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. 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 old 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 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;
• and 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 behaviours 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.
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