The Directors and Management of Lion Encounter have agreed to suspend lion walks in Livingstone as of November 2015, acting on recommendations by, and in consultation with, ALERT’s Executive Committee. The main objective of this decision is to reduce the number of lions entering into the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Programme, until lions have been successfully released into the wild from the programme.
The decision, made in late February 2014, was advised to members of the African Lion Working Group the following month, and to the Zambia Wildlife Authority in October 2014, in accordance with the stipulations of the Tourism Concession Agreement under which Lion Encounter operates. A public announcement was delayed until nearer the effective date to enable Lion Encounter to put in place alternative strategies. These aim to provide job security to Lion Encounter’s staff, whilst continuing to raise finance to support the Release Programme, as well as ALERT’s broader conservation and community development programmes; many of which are operated in partnership with Lion Encounter.
Lion walks will continue in the immediate future at Lion Encounter Victoria Falls and at Antelope Park, but at a reduced level. Suspension of lion walks at these locations will also be considered in light of progress made on releasing lions over the next two years.
To read Africa Geographic’s post on why walking with lions is not good conservation practice click here and to read Christopher Clark’s blog questioning the ethics of lion walking click here.