ITV's Lion Country puts the spotlight on Real Gap's efforts to save Africa's endangered lions!
Press Release 2010-01-26
Once hailed as the king of the jungle, Africa’s most iconic animal has made its way onto the endangered species list with alarming rapidity. In just 30 years, Africa’s lions have dwindled in numbers from an impressive 200,000 to an estimated 23,000, a drop of almost 90%. In an effort to highlight the plight of these incredible animals and prevent further decline in numbers, leading conservationist David Youldon has joined forces with ITV to make the fantastic new series, Lion Country.*
Delving into the heart of Africa’s wilderness, the 6 part series focuses on the work of volunteers on a conservation programme spanning Zambia and Zimbabwe. Working in association with leading UK gap year company Real Gap, the programme seeks to reacquaint lion cubs with both their natural habitat and their natural instincts, before releasing them into the grounds of the wildlife reserve.
The eventual aim of the project is to reintroduce a new generation of lions to the wild, after a carefully structured process. From a young age, cubs born in captivity are taught to walk in the open plains and ensure their own survival by getting to grips with their hunting skills, young adults are then left to develop their own pride and fend for themselves in a larger enclosure. The project leaders have high hopes that cubs born of the new pride will eventually help to repopulate the continent.
Primarily featured in the series are Real Gap’s Lion Breeding and Conservation project and Lion Rehabilitation programme in Zimbabwe. The projects are based at the stunning locations of Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe’s Midlands, giving volunteers the opportunity to make a difference and take advantage of the amazing views. Participants can assist with research and as well as helping to prepare cubs for a wilder lifestyle by walking with them in the open, and observing the development of instinctual behaviours.
In Zambia, the Lion Rehabilitation and Release programme aims to give cubs the opportunity to rediscover their instincts, and reintroduce the offspring of captive bred lions into national parks and private reserves. Real Gap volunteers have the chance to get up close to the lion cubs by taking part in their everyday care, journeying with them into Zambia’s plains, and monitoring their progress through important research and data collection.
The work of volunteers is an essential element of the project’s success and demand for an extra pair of hands is ever on the increase. For those contemplating a unique wildlife conservation experience, the series provides a valuable insight into life with Africa’s lions; the second episode of the series airs on ITV1 tomorrow night at 7.30pm. More information about the projects can be found at http://www.realgap.co.uk/Africa%20Volunteer%20in%20Africa or by calling 01892 516164 to speak to an expert Real Gap adviser.
* Information sourced from http://www.itv.com/lifestyle/lioncountry/