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Priced from £1167 / EUR 1517 / US$ 2136 / AU$2567
The Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Parks, in Zimbabwe, are undoubtedly amongst the most impressive wildlife areas in Southern Africa and offer some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities.
This project is a collaboration between Lion Encounter (LE), the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) to research and protect these vital ecosystems.
The Victoria Falls National Park, comprising 23km2 of riverine jungle with ilala palms, ferns, figs, liana vines and mahogany provides a tranquil setting from which to view the five cascades of Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders. Bushbuck and troops of baboons can frequently be spotted along the walkways, and depending on the season, spray from the Falls creates magnificent rainbows. Also dependent on the season, it is possible to view a lunar rainbow over the Falls during full-moon. Victoria Falls National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a relic of a true equatorial rainforest; the unique vegetation being supported by the seasonal spray from the Falls.
The 56,200 hectare Zambezi National Park, home to a lot of big game, stretches along the Zambezi River for 40 kilometres. Animals include big-game such as elephant, buffalo and lion, larger antelope species such as greater kudu, sable and waterbuck, along with a large number of smaller mammal species including duiker, genet and honey badger. The Zambezi National Park is close to the Kazuma Pan, Matetsi, and Hwange complex, forming a total contiguous conservation area of over 1,846,700 hectares plus additional areas of adjacent forest reserves.
Victoria Falls is part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, established with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between some Southern African nations. Situated in the Okavango and Zambezi River basins and incorporating the highest concentrations of wildlife on the African continent, it is the largest conservation area in the world. Including 36 national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas the total conservation area spans approximately 287 132 km2.
Throughout your stay will be participating in various research based activities where you will also have the opportunity to improve your photography. Your day will be split between conservation/research and photography, but normally you will be able to take pictures throughout. Depending on the season, you may be involved in the following activities:
Large Predator Research – the Zambezi National Park is home to lions, leopards, cheetah, African wild dogs and spotted hyena. Your role will be to assist in collecting baseline data on each species that are used to improve species conservation management plans. Data collection is undertaken by a variety of means including driven transects, observations at water holes, remote camera traps, baited call-in stations and community questionnaires. When animals are sighted you will attempt to take photographic evidence for individual identification, record the GPS location and other information useful to the research effort.
Elephant Research – the populations of elephant in this region are huge, but little is known about their seasonal behaviors. You will be assisting in documenting the location, size and structure of elephant herds, helping to build up a database of individual animals using their ear notches and tusk size and shape as identification markers. We will also be looking at feeding behaviors to assess the species’ impact on the vegetation of the Park.
Biodiversity Assessment – to complement the large predator research you will assist in monitoring the number and distribution of other species within the Park. Data is collected by driven transect surveys on historically used routes to allow for comparison over time.
National Park Management – you will be assisting the Park’s staff in many aspects of management including; invasive alien plant species removal, waterhole and fire management programmes, snare sweeps, creating maps for visitors to the Park as well as helping out in the Park’s offices with general administrative duties and visitor management.
Entomological survey – we hope you enjoy insects. This research program is trying to understand the complex relationships between the vast array of insects and the even greater array of plants and trees within the Parks. You will lay out traps and assist in identifying what we catch.
Conservation Education – a vital part of your role will be assisting with our outreach programmes with the local community. These programmes help increase support for conservation efforts. You will therefore be assisting in preparing lesson plans which you will later teach.
Walk with Lions – s part of your experience you will have the opportunity to walk with lion cubs as they participate in the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programe.