I spent the last 2 days and nights in the South Luangwa bush with an amazing organisation called ZCP (Zambia Carnivore Programme). ZCP is a non-profit Zambian registered trust dedicated to the protection of large carnivore species such as African Wild Dog, Lion, Leopard, Hyena and Cheetah. For more info click into their website :
I went out for 2 days and nights with an experienced team including a vet and an armed guard and our mission was to find the 3 prides of lions that live in a particular area of the South Luangwa valley and look for a suitable female to dart and collar for monitoring purposes.
It is vital to study the movements of these now sadly endangered species as they need protecting on so many levels.
We eventually selected a pride at 6pm last night but unfortunately they were all in hunt mode so it was just not possible. The pride consisted of 2 large males and 6 females who were on the hunt, and 2 adults who stayed put to look after the 6 cubs which were between 2 and 4 months old…so so cute!!.
The very professional team I was with decided we should follow the hunt as close as possible (for study and record keeping proposes) so we did. By close I mean we were 15 metres away and could here the heavy breathing / growling noise that lions make when on the ‘Prowl’ … Phew! it was amazing. At one stage one of the one large males paused and looked directly at us. He was quite literally next to the car door no more than 10 feet away and I can assure you this look sends a SHIVER down your spine right through to your Sphincter ha ha… and my window was open as it’s just so damn HOT here. It was 32 degrees at midnight last night… unbelievable !
Anyway we eventually lost the pride after an hour of following them as they move so fast through very difficult terrain which is impossible to cross by Land Rover. We could hear them for a while and tried to follow the calling growls they make but they were just too quick. Anyway we decided to stop at midnight and set up camp and our team leader advised we sleep on top of the vehicles as it was too dangerous to sleep in tents on the ground. The moon was full last night and this means most predators can see well and therefore all go out hunting which would have made us very venerable on the ground.
We got up at 4am and went out to track the pride again and found them all lying on the river bank with full bellies and blood on their paws. They obviously made a kill but we couldn’t see a carcass anywhere.
What a Great experience that was … would love to do it again and complete the mission of fitting the VHF tracking collar… better luck next time.
Looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight …Feeing as rough as a Giraffes Knee right now.
Independence Day! 24th October
By the way its Independence Day in Zambia today – check out what my friends at Game Rangers International have been doing…
Happy day at Lilayi Elephant Nursery
In celebration of Independence day in Zambia, education officer KELVIN CHANDA and the amazing team at Lusaka Conservation Project, gave a lesson to 112 children at Lilayi Elephant Nursery.
Many of these children may not otherwise have the opportunity to see elephants in the wild, however in the future they will be asked to vote and make decisions about Zambia’s wildlife and protected areas!
This will hopefully have inspired them to support conservation in the future. The Lilayi Elephant nursery and The Lusaka Conservation Project are all part of Game Rangers International who we, the Olsen Animal Trust, are very proud to support.
I had the privilege of spending my first two months in Zambia with GRI and I was so impressed with everything they do. Check out their website and links to their various projects…
Leaving ZCP today and off to spend time at CHIPEMBELE, another non government conservation organisation in the valley run by husband and wife team Anna and Steve Tolan. Cant wait to meet them, and their resident orphaned hippo – DOUGLAS!