When I was planning my trip to Kilimanjaro last year, I met Matthew through a mutual friend. Matthew was also planning a trip to Africa, which included the Kilimanjaro hike, and so we instantly became training partners and of course, friends! Two weeks after I returned from my Africa backpacking adventures, Matthew was heading to Africa. He’s been there for 3 months now. After receiving his last email update, I thought I should share it with you.
**Email from Matthew**
Today I left Antelope Park and headed up to Harare. I will be travelling with a fellow Canuck that i met while volunteering as we zigzag our way up to Burundi via Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. Working at AP has been one of the highlights of the trip. The main goal of this conservation project is to increase the population of wild lions through captive breeding and the reintroduction of these lions into the wild.
There is a 4 stage system that they are working towards, and have reached stage 2 as of this point.
Stage 1: breeding lions in captivity, raising them in the enclosures, use them for client/volunteer walks (to help fund the program), day/night encounters
Stage 2: lions are placed into a pride and moved into a 500 acre enclosure with no other predatory species…only preys such zebra, antelope
Stage 3: lions are moved into a 10,000 acre enclosure with both predatory and prey species
Stage 4: offspring from stage 2/3 a reintroduced into the wild to help rebuild these diminishing numbers observing the lions as they walked, ate, played, slept and other daily behaviors was something I will never forget.
I met a great group of volunteers at the project, all of whom had been there for a month. Most of them left within a day or two of my departure which culminated the segment of this trip quite well. Our last few days were truly amazing. In the morning, we got to have a cub sit with a 4 month old and a 3 week old cub. Rhea, my Canadian friend managed to find 10 meters of plastic sheeting which helped to build one of the best slip and slides money can buy!!! Lounging by the pool one last time ensued.
Horse rides through the park to view all the various game…zebras, impalas, redheartbeasts, wildebeests, waterbucks, giraffes. This was particularly awesome because the animals only really see the horses, and not the human so you can get much closer than if you were in a car or on foot. I had to pinch myself at one point, realizing how surreal this moment was, all 8 of us, galloping full speed through tall grass, open plains, passing herds of these beautiful animals on a cloudless sunday afternoon…not even a picture could capture this perfect moment. At 4:30 we all went on a final lion walk. I walked with Lewa once again, the 4 month cub. At 6 we had a volunteer vs staff volleyball match…lots of fun!
One last group meeting at 6:30 and then a delicious hamburger dinner at 7. I will definitely miss working with the lions and observing their playful nature as well as their instinctual characteristics which keep them always on the prowl.
Hope this find you all well. Keep the responses coming, its great to hear from everyone back home.
Lots of love
Why am I sharing this email with you? It’s truly amazing to meet people through your passion. To be at work and receive a random email like this puts a smile on my face every time. It’s nice to know that people are out there experiencing life! It allows for those who are at home (like me) to learn from the experiences of friends.