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Project Updates

David Youldon


With so much rain this wet season, the wettest for 120 years some people have said, it has been very difficult for us to safely take the lions out at night to practice their hunting skills. However we have had some successes nevertheless.

Ltalo & Landela are continuing their good form with another recent kill by Landela, taking a duiker. This is his third kill, and the eighth for the pairing. They are maintaining an astonishing 78% success rate which is a remarkable achievement.

On February 7th Nala & Paka were taken on a Night Encounter, the first time that these two had hunted together without Narnia. They found a herd of wildebeest, which panicked after they spotted the lions stalking them. The girls immediately sprang into action and rushed headlong into the herd. Nala immediately picked out a female, clamping her teeth around its mouth but struggled to bring the animal down. Paka nearly caught herself a calf, but after her chance slipped away she came to Nala’s aide by latching onto the wildebeest’s neck. The combined effort gave them the advantage and the animal was soon brought to the ground.

Nandi made her first kill on the morning of 7th February when she managed to snag a southern yellow billed hornbill. Well known as the type of hornbill characterized as Zazu in Disney’s The Lion King, the bird did not stand a chance against the sharp-wittedness of our little shumba who dispatched said bird in seconds. Nandi, a very shy cub, has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few months.

Acacia & Amghela have taken part in research walks looking at character traits in the lions such as playfulness, boldness, intolerance and aggression. The walks are conducted by guides and eco-tourists over a 7 day period around the third month anniversary of each lion. Each day the lions are assessed against different criteria with an average taken from the week in order to quantify their character trait using analysis techniques from similar studies on hyena. We hope that these traits will become predictors of the lions’ likely role in a release pride enabling us to better group lions together in the future.

ALERT through its community division ACT firmly believes that the best way of protecting habitat is for local communities living alongside those natural areas to do it themselves. We believe that this can be achieved through helping develop an understanding of that environment as well as through developing ways of deriding benefits from the environment such that the local community have a reason to protect it.

As part of that we will shortly be launching a new conservation education syllabus at our Victoria Falls operation before rolling the program out to all our facilities.

The syllabus was originally devised under the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) “We Care!” project and adapted to Zimbabwe by the The Curriculum Unit of the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture.

Principal subject areas include:

 Our Environment Covers basic ecological and environmental factors and processes.

 Our Neighbours Covers the living environment which includes animals and plants focusing not just on
topics such as biodiversity but also on issues of population and health.

 Our Impact This area looks at how people affect the environment by creating problems such as soil
erosion, pollution, poverty and species extinction.

 Why Care? Looks at reasons why we should care for the natural environment

 What is Being Done? This area looks at a range of environmental and conservation organizations caring for the natural environment in Zimbabwe and around Africa.

 What Can I Do? Offers idea and encouragement for individuals to get involved

Each subject area is taught using a number of different teaching methods focusing on interactive activities and real experiences.

Ever since we first started thinking about expanding our Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program into Zambia, we also talked about the role of the ACT community development programs that would need to run alongside, but felt that these should begin immediately, rather than wait for the lions to move. The program, operated by our sister organization, African Impact has been incredibly successful with huge support from a wide range of sources. Here are some of the most recent developments:

Sports Program

2008 started off well for our sports developments in Livingstone. The program’s project managers and community liaison team were invited to a meeting on the 2nd of February with the Zambian Minister for Sports and asked to give a presentation regarding our proposal to build a sports and community complex. We propose to build a modern complex including a number of sporting facilities as well as a library and counseling rooms; a place where local communities can come to not only enjoy and receive training in team sports, but also make use of facilities such as the library to assist in their education or meet with counselors to talk through issues facing their daily lives.

The Minister was extremely interested in the proposal and impressed with our work in Livingstone’s communities so far and instantly gave authorization for the lease of a plot of land called the “Villa Ground”!!

Medical Projects

Thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of eco-tourists on the Livingstone program we can now boast a new aspect of the medical project – a Contraception Awareness programme. This involves education for both males and females on the variations and uses of contraception. This will run along side our already established and successful HIVE (HIV Education) Programme. We are hoping this is going to be a project that can target males, as they are currently reluctant to attend HIVE.

For some time now we have been supporting the various Home Based Care programmes, run by local female volunteers from a number of Livingstone’s communities. The purpose of these Home Based Care projects is to go into the homes of those who are perhaps house bound due to illness, or bed bound due to old age and disease. The volunteers offer medical advice, general assistance around the home, as well as providing much appreciated company for those people who often see few others. As part of our support of these locally grown programs we have started several workshops with the Home Based Care volunteers in order to provide additional education so they are able to conduct their roles as HBC Volunteers more effectively. These workshops have included showing the ladies how to take blood pressures, how to read temperatures correctly, how to hygienically change dressings etc. The HBC Volunteers have benefited greatly from these workshops – a benefit which is passed directly on to the community.

Maanu Mbwami has had a makeover!! We have been working hard to finish painting of the school, and the new classroom and many more developments have been planned for the future to benefit this school even further. To go alongside Adult Literacy Club, a successful project which gives adults the chance to improve their reading and writing, we have now extended it to children who need additional support to accompany their lessons. Children’s Literacy Club has been successful so far at Livingstone Primary, and will soon be taken to other schools as well. Reading Club has already been extended to Nakatindi and thanks to very generous donations of children’s books we can now extend to other schools as well. At Dambwa Christian School there were many items of classroom furniture such as desks and chairs that were in need of some serious TLC; so, armed with hammers, nails, and wood glue, our team gave the schools furniture a re-vamp, and plans to offer the same to all the other schools that we work with.

We also welcomed a visit from a representative from the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development on the 28th of January 2008. Elizabeth Mfune-Mubukwanu visited Maanu Mbwami Community School and was highly impressed by our work. Here is a quote from her report: “As a department, we truly appreciate your dedication and you recognize, as we do, the valuable role you play in building brighter futures for Zambia’s next generation. Thank you for your continuing support. It is through the positive efforts of organizations like yours that we can change a lifetime for a child in need.”


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