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Ngamo Lion Release

David Youldon


On September 1st our honoured guests arrived and were treated to a game drive around the Ngamo release site; adjacent to Antelope Park. This project is a joint public / private initiative and guests included Francis Nhema, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, the Director General of the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority, the regional Governer, and representatives from a host of public organizations from all facets of government and public life as well as the Zimbabwean press.

Andrew Conolly, founder of the program gave a speech thanking the guests for attending as well as giving thanks to the many staff and volunteers that have worked on the program over the years. He spoke about the passion of those involved in the program to assist in saving Africa's most iconic species and called for greater co-operation between government and private organizations in achieving this conservation aim.

Minister Nhema was invited to address the guests and his speech was extremely moving...

Thank you very much. May I acknowledge all the dignitaries that are here…and also my dear friend and colleague; the lion man. I simply want to say it’s a good occasion to be here today, because man has done damage; we have destroyed. We have destroyed the kingdom that belonged to wildlife we have destroyed the animal kingdom. It is time for us to repair the damage and we begin it here.

We have been selfish as mankind, we have built cities amidst wilderness, with no recognition that there is wildlife, but there is life which is happening in those states. We have made it possible for these animals to run from us, each time they see us. We still fear in them and as man, we want to conqueror everything. But, we lost something in the process. We lost the dignity, the love of nature. We lost our relationship with wilderness and we are not complete as a planet.

There is no fulfilment without wilderness. There is no fulfilment without the wildlife. Wildlife reflects who we are, the love, the care, the understanding. It is only when man walks together with wilderness, with wildlife, that he fulfils himself as a person.

Even if you look at the bible, Genesis tells us that when you are given dominion over everything, it didn’t say kill everything. It didn’t say murder everything, it didn’t say take out everything except yourselves.

So, today, what you have done, goes beyond Zimbabwe, it goes beyond us as the community, it teaches the rest of the world that for this planet to be complete, for us to reach fulfilment, we must live in harmony with nature. That’s where life is.

So, I want to say thank you and I want to say this pilot project should not only stop here, we should make sure that the rest of the continent enjoys these skills, the entrepreneurship that we have here and this will be known as lion country, as lion continent forever and ever.

Now is the time, and I’m saying to the rest of the world, please take heed, just think for a moment. Just think for a moment; when you look at that lion, its thoughts, its feeling, its expectations in life.

Without much ado may the games begin.

A few moments later the Minister was invited to open the release gate. The lions, were a little unsure of what lay beyond. Kwali was the first to investigate, approaching the gate, but when the others did not follow she retreated to their company. And then as one they moved forward. And the first lion out the gate was....Phyre.

Since their release the females have been doing well. They have been making regular kills (of zebra, but mostly wildebeest) and are achieving an average expected daily meat intake akin to a wild pride.

The pride dynamic is difficult to determine at the moment. Ashanti has been the alpha female to date, but it appears that Phyre may have taken over this role whilst the lions were in the holding enclosures awaiting release. We will keep monitoring, but we have seen the group spend the majority of the time together and split into smaller groups from time to time before rejoining, as is expected.

Milo, the male is joining the pride in the next couple of days.


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