The Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme
In 1998, Antelope Park conceived the African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Programme to provide a viable source of lions for reintroduction into the wild.
Captive-bred lions are provided with pre-release training through human-led walks that give them the opportunity to familiarise with, and build confidence in a natural environment before being bonded as prides and released into managed, fenced reserves.
Those prides give birth to cubs that are raised naturally, without human contact, and are therefore viable candidates for introduction into the wild.
Find out more about the three-phase Programme:
Cubs born to captive-bred parents are hand-raised in a controlled environment, and are taken on human-led walks in their natural habitat between the ages of 3 and 18 months. These walks allow the cubs to develop their natural instincts and hone the skills they’ll need in phase two of the programme.
People are able to join the lions on these walks, safely accompanied by expert guides, whom the lions recognise as senior pride members. By allowing visitors to join these walks, the project is able to generate much-needed income to sustain the costly operations, and inform the public of the plight of Africa’s lions.
The lions are released as prides into fenced, managed game reserves, where they live as a wild pride – hunting and breeding naturally without human interference. The pride’s social cohesion is closely studied; allowing experts to ascertain whether the pride is socially cohesive and stable – one of the two essential criteria for phase three.
Two release areas are currently operational and land has been secured for further sites. ALERT and its operational partners are attempting to raise funds to proceed with the development of these sites.
Once the cubs born in the release phase are old enough, and their social cohesion and stability has been established, they can be translocated for reintroduction into appropriate national parks and reserves that are seeking to restore lost, or augment declining lion populations.