As ‘ethical biotourism’ gains traction, Wilderness Safaris and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, have partnered to create a lion conservation experience in Zambia. Jenny Southan reports

Demonstrating a shared commitment to protecting Africa’s wildlife, Wilderness Safaris and Panthera have come together to design a seven-day, “purpose-driven” safari that will be hosted by Dr Kim Young-Overton, a recognised specialist in threatened species and ecosystem management.

The 12-person trip will take place in the wildlife-rich Busanga Plains of Zambia’s Kafue National Park from September 26 to October 2, 2022. Costing US$15,100 per person, all proceeds will go to supporting wildlife conservation efforts in the area. Guests will be accommodated in Wilderness Safari’s luxury Shumba Camp.

After the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic for wildlife tourism and conservation, Wilderness Safaris and Panthera say they are confident that their trip will not only help to fund vital conservation projects, but also offer guests an extremely immersive experience, with insight from various renowned experts.Wilderness SafarisDean Morton, Wilderness Safari’s acting managing director for Zambezi, says: “This trip is an incredible opportunity to experience the valuable intersection of impact tourism and hands-on conservation efforts.

“In the Kafue, Wilderness’ history with Panthera dates back to 2010, when Dr Neil Midlane initiated the Kafue Lion Project, the first study into the species in this unique landscape. Wilderness’ continued support for Panthera, as well as recent surveys, suggest that the lion population is responding well to the team’s interventions.

Young-Overton, Panthera’s director of Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Cheetah Program Director and host of the trip, says: “The itinerary brings together Wilderness’ award-winning camps and safaris, and Panthera’s scientific and operational expertise, to ensure a future for wild cats and the vast landscapes on which they depend.”Wilderness SafarisYoung-Overton’s in-depth knowledge of the carnivores in these areas will “steer guests through the complex details of lion conservation” in a location that has the most diverse antelope species across the whole of Africa.

The Kafue is also renowned for its dynamic lion populations, and is one of the strongholds of lion conservation in Africa. With behind-the-scenes access to Kafue lion conservation initiatives, guests will spend time with the research team from Panthera and partners, joining their dedicated monitoring units, and delve into the details of carnivore tracking.

Other highlights include setting up camera traps, bush brunches, sunrise game drives, fireside discussions about the local ecosystem, and taking part in a snare sweep with the wildlife police.

Morton says: “We are excited to be a part of the Wilderness and Panthera journey, and for the opportunity to make a significant, positive contribution to the development of sustainable wildlife-based economies across the continent.”

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