Lions, Elephants & Giraffes. OH MY!

Zimbabwe_ ALERT Thomas Munro

My journey to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe was an interesting and exciting one at that. Being my first time out of Australia I was excited for what I might experience. The whole experience of customs and airport security was another level than what I had ever encountered before, but it did nothing but excite me for the trip ahead.

I was excited in anticipation of seeing my first African animal in the wild. The Zambezi National Park definitely delivered, as it was nothing short of spectacular. On our first trip around not even half of the park we encountered species such as, giraffes, zebras, several antelopes, a group of banded mongoose, a vulture, and a breeding herd of elephants. It was breath taking to see such large wild animals roaming around so freely with not a care about us there embracing their presences. But it wasn’t just the animals we saw that made to first day so special it was driving through the park and the thought of being in Africa in such a wild part of the world and the anticipation for all the experiences of the next two weeks really setting in summed up the first day as such as surreal experience. Elephant and Giraffe Research project:

Elephant and Giraffe Research project:

The Purpose of this project was to help develop an accurate estimation of the Elephant and Giraffe populations within the Zambezi National Park as the last survey conducted on population size was done via air several years ago.

Over the course of the predator research there were several task such as night drive surveys in the attempt to encounter predators when they are most active. Setting up coupling camera traps on pathways and roads to capture identifying images from both sides of predators Recording tracks, scats and sighting of predators during any other project days and during transect walks along a 1km stretch of road.

Predators Project

The National Park is home to five species of large predator: spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard, lion and African wild dog. This project is set up with the aim to establish population data within the park on the 5 large predators and assess their long term viability within the park

Wild Lion Release Program

Other projects under the predator project are the Wild Lion Release Program which seeks to increase the Population of African lions in the wild. And the Spotted Hyena project which seeks to obtain data on population size, ecology, behaviour and interaction with livestock. 

As a result, my participation in the international short term program I believe I have made several personal and educational developments due to the range of unique opportunities presented by both Charles Sturt University and the ALERT program.

Going on this international experience really opened my eyes to the cultural separation between us in the western world and that of places in Africa in particular the villages that were visited during the Victoria Falls trip. These cultural differences help to shape the communities we visited. This opportunity helps provide us as students with an environment in which we can express our knowledge on behalf of an institute such as Charles Sturt University with the potential to benefit villages and help mitigate their relationship with wildlife, in addition to helping an organisation such as ALERT with research that is substantial to the ecology and biodiversity of the Zambezi National Park.

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