The White Lion Conservation Project
This incredible project is set deep in the lions spiritual home in the Timbavati region of South Africa and it is the only project in the world where volunteers are able to aid in the conservation of the white lion.
The projects main aim is to restore a natural balance by reintroducing prides of white and tawny lions within their endemic range. In 2003 the Global White Lion Protection Trust introduced a pride of white lions back into the Timbavati region and they have since thrived, showing that white lions can be successful in the wild despite their perceived lack of camouflage.
This unique project is currently home to a combination of 6 white and 4 tawny lions, and the aim is to integrate the different lions together to form strong and genetically diverse prides of white lions on the reserves. The white lion gene is recessive, and introducing tawny lions into the gene pool is a good way of ensuring that any future generations of white lions born at the project will be genetically diverse enough to thrive.
The staff at the project site cannot complete their work without help, and as a volunteer on this project you will be working with the Global White Lion Protection Trust on a range of activities from lion tracking and monitoring, to habitat management and prey studies to ensure the lion population has the best chance at a sustained future in the region. Your hard work at the project site will help to ensure the future of these incredible big cats.
Start Dates For This Project Vary
Itinerary - Please be aware that the itinerary can change with the needs of the project, and that this is only a guide of what you will be doing.
You will arrive into Hoedspruit Airport by either plane or coach from Johannesburg and be met by the project facilitator. You will then transfer to project site by car, which takes approximately 30 minutes, stopping on the way at a supermarket so you can buy any snacks or drinks you would like for the week ahead. Upon arrival you will settle into your accommodation and meet the project team and your fellow volunteers before a health and safety briefing and orientation is given.
Each day starts (depending on the season) at 5:30am when both you and the volunteer facilitator will go to check on the lions and to see the other animals. Breakfast is usually from around 7.30 – 9.00am, again depending on the season. When breakfast is finished you will start the morning’s activities followed by lunch between 12 – 2pm and then it is time for the afternoon activities. Before dinner, around 4.30pm you will go on another game drive and check on the lions. Dinner is normally around 7pm and then you have the evenings to yourself. Sunday is your day off and there are activities you can do in the area ranging from day trips to Kruger National Park, Horseback safari’s, Blyde River Canyon waterfalls and many more.
After breakfast and some fond farewells, you will transfer back to Hoedspruit Airport for your return flight or to continue your independent travel plans.
On this project, you will get the chance to take part in a wide variety of exciting activities. Below are examples of some of those included in this project.
This, of course, is one of the main activities you will do when on the project. Nearly every day, with the exception of the weekend, will start and end with 2 hours of game drives to check on the lions. This offers an incredible opportunity to see these beautiful animals as you record their behavior and hunting habits.
As the Global White Lion Trust was the first to reintroduce white lions into the Timbavati region it has been, and remains, very important to ensure the habitat continues to be maintained and outside factors such as alien plants are not able to significantly change the ecosystem here. Therefore activities such as erosion control and alien plant removal can form part of your time on the project.
This is a key aspect to ensure a future for not only the project but also the species in the region. Important tasks such as predator and prey surveys need to be carried out in order to understand how the lion population is managing, and to therefore understand what pride size can live in what area and exactly what the region needs in order for the pride to be sustained. This is something that can be shared between the three reserves at the project, each home to a different pride of lions.
A very important part of the project and one which the founders have always ensured be an integral part of the project is the work with local communities. The local Tsonga and Sepedi people call white lions ‘Star Lions’ and there is a deep-seated traditional belief that the White Lion is a gift from the Almighty. The locals are therefore very keen to help protect the species and in an area with an orphan rate of up to 60%, the project is very keen to help the locals. Whilst on the project you will be a part of this by helping create and maintain nurseries and vegetable gardens and assisting in recycling projects and mural painting with the local children at their schools!
Every Sunday is free for everyone to do as they please. You can take the day to relax at the volunteer house or leave the reserve to take part in activities such as trips to Kruger National Park, Horseback safari’s, Blyde River Canyon waterfalls, and many more. Please note these activities will be at your own cost and we recommend booking these on arrival so you can discuss any options with your fellow volunteers.
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