A few months after my wonderful experience of "Walking with Lions" I was keen to get back to be with the lions again as soon as I could. I knew one could become a volunteer and go and work with them. I made enquiries just before Christmas, and I was away back to Zimbabwe for the month of February to do the "Working with Lions".
It is stationed at Gweru in Antelope Park in the middle of Zimbabwe. This work I had let myself in for saw me starting the day with the alarm at 5.30 a.m., so that I could get to sit and have my early cuppa watching the day dawning down by the lake. There were over a dozen volunteers staying for a varying numbers of weeks. We had to report in for work at 6.15 a.m. and by 6.30 we had all left on our alloted tasks - mostly at this hour taking various lions for different walks We would return to base around 8 o' clock for breakfast. However we had to wait till clients had taken theirs. So there was usually a wait till we were able to get out plates filled with what we wanted to eat. By 9.30 we were back at work returning just before 1 o'clock for lunch. This work time slot covered many aspects of the Park, including feeding the babies (5 weeks old and a play time with them) Cutting up meat, which came from mostly donations of dead cows or horses into meal portions for all the lions and washing down the slaughter house. The cleaning of the main enclosures, once the lions were safely installed into an adjoining enclosure. We had wheelbarrows and gloves to pick up all the bones they had finished with the day before so as to keep the flies at bay, and of course picking up all of their poo !!! The water troughs had to be scrubbed and fresh water, which we took with us, poured into them. There were many such enclosures that needed daily attention. There was a Vet on standby if and when ever needed in a nearby town.
One job slot was to do a Boundary Patrol - On foot to make sure none of the fences had been broken around the Park, and any damage found repaired there and then. Another job was the Snare Patrol whereby saw a few of us walking in line, about 30 yards apart, down a section of the Park looking for any signs of snares. Some sections the grass was so tall I could not see over it. We needed to call out to keep our positions right as we moved along the bush . Some of the spiders I came eye to eye with were frightening. Fortunately I did not fall down pot holes nor trip up over dead trees or come across snakes - my biggest fear. But by far the best job in that time slop was the continuation from the 6.30 a.m slot doing the 6 hour walk with lions. We took our breakfast out with us and we just followed the lions and rested only as and when the lions did, which was quite frequently as lions do rest so much. I really loved this time spent with the lions and this is where one gets to bond with them.
Part 2 to follow