CONSERVATION & RESEARCH
CONSERVATION & RESEARCH
AT THE LION & SAFARI PARK
The Lion Park moved to the Cradle of Humankind in July 2016, and this world class facility, called Lion and Safari Park, offers guests a memorable experience.
What you will not necessarily see is what the park is engaged in behind the scenes…a great deal of effort is being put into conservation research and education here.
In 2013, before the park opened to the public, a full-time researcher was employed to study the Black-backed Jackal in the area. The objective was to collect data on this particular jackal (Canis mesomelas) in this peri-urban area. The study consisted of various elements: Tracking of collared jackal to see the distribution; Camera traps and capturing observational data for population size estimates; Data on each individual jackal captured (size, weight, age); blood samples were taken to see if jackal had been exposed to rabies virus; the main prey species of the black backed jackal; Scat collection and laboratory procedures to see seasonal diet changes.
The observations revealed that the park was also host to a number of indigenous species including Brown hyena (Parahyaena brunnea), Caracals (Caracal caracal), Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis), African Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis), Water mongoose (Atilax paludinosus), Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus), and of course our resident Fish Eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer). An exciting recent sighting was that of a migrant leopard.
As there were seasonal sightings of vultures, a vulture “restaurant” was started to monitor the vulture population in the surrounding area. The species landing at the vulture restaurant are Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres), with a recent visit by a Lappet-face Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), both of which are endangered. The park now works in close co-operation with VULPRO, reporting observations and tagged birds.
African Dragons (Leguaan)
In 2016 the KaiNav Conservation Foundation’s African Dragon Project was initiated on the Lion & Safari Park. The aim being to generate data on the peri-urban population of the Leguaan, also called the Nile monitor lizard (Varanus niloticus). To date they have captured and chipped 16 leguaan ranging in size from 2 kg to well over 10 kg! The information gathered will help in the conservation of this species and improve knowledge on the ecology and movement of them in and around urban habitats.
Lion and Safari Park is passionate about giving back to the community, and one of the initiatives involves educating scholars in a fun and interactive manner. Scholars are treated to a guided game drive and given an introduction to the wildlife and ecosystem – Lion & Safari Park subsidises well over 20000 visits by school children per year, most of whom would probably never have had the opportunity to visit such a place.
So, when you visit the Lion & Safari Park, be sure to ask more about the various projects and initiatives being undertaken by them – it’s not just about providing visitors with an enchanting and informative day!