Posted by: Larzizou | December 31, 2007

Antelope Park, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Our second long halt in Zimbabwe is in Gweru, in the gorgeous Antelope Park, that opened in the 70s and is still being improved. It is simply gorgeous.

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The park counts many animals. Some of them, like elephants, are free to walk anywhere.

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Camping as usual…

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…but I have been able to upgrade to a river tent. It is a huge tent that looks more like a bungalow than a tent, with a small balcony and chairs on the lake. Two of them below.

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The park offers a variety of activities centered around animal sighting. One of them is transparently entitled walking with the lions; it entails waking up at 6am to accompany baby lions (no older than 18 months) in their 90 minutes morning walk, without any other protection than three lion trainers. Some simple but strict rules have to be observed. However young and harmless they look, they remain dangerous predators. Simba teaches us the ropes.

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And so we walk.

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Like us, humans, they are playful…

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…they have teeth…

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…that they like to show…

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…when they don’t sleep enough, they yawn…

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…they hang out with their posse…

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…yet sometimes they need solitude…

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…and to rest…

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…although by our standard, they may rest a little too much (+20h a day).

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They also enjoy water games…

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…underage drinking…

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…exercising…

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…or affection.

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Unfortunately, bloody humans keeps on bothering them.

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Grant and Pippa may have the best picture.

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Simba and the lions. His father wanted him to be a policeman, he didn’t. Looking at these pictures, it seems he made the right decision.

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How big is this owl ?

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Not very big…

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We do also horseride…

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…and ride elephants. Our guide (sitting in front of me) loves France, and its former president in particular (but the new one…not at all), so much that he named his second son…Chirac. According to him, it happens a lot in Africa. Hope not too many like Putin (sorry, french language pun).

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We also swim with the elephant, sitting on top of them. I am paired with Grant, because his girlfriend Pippa cannot swim.

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You cannot see but I hold him firmly. It’s shaking.

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In the water. It is extremely hard to stay “aboard”. See my foot hitched up to the elephant ear.

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Now, our elephant does not want to get back up on his feet. So we stay in the water for about five minutes trying not to fall. This is like rodeo. This is why we smile, not because we are all physically close.

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Working on it.

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Out of trouble.

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Reportedly, Grant and I were screaming like little girls. These videos should clear our reputations.

Or not. But at least, we managed to stay on the elephant, unlike others. Below, Gabbitch and Hungritch (in the water).

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The cub viewing is not that exciting, but here are a few Nicolas-Hulot-like pictures (notice my excellent style, socks up).

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For a hefty price, we take the option hunt with the lions. This is part of a program of rehabilitation of the animals into their natural environment. Lions must be prepared to survive if released, so they must know how to hunt. We take the jeep and follow them in the park at night, looking for juicy preys. Will we see a kill?

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We have been driving in the domain for more than two hours (it’s freezing) and still nothing…

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Although she’s digging hard and waiting, they prey, a warthog (think Pumba) who took refuge in a deep deep hole, cannot be reached. Much ado about nothing. Oh well.

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There comes time when fortitude (some might even say “bravitude”) is needed, and feeding the lions is certainly one of them. You have been warned.

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The lions are held about 200 meters back, food (that is, animals cut in big pieces) is being placed just in front where we stand behind the fence. Three to five meters from us. We are not really frightened. Should we? This is how it looks when the lions are being released.

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Once they pieces have been fought for and taken, wary consumption.

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Food.

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Lions.

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Another run. All happens extremely fast. It does not last longer than a few seconds.

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And a last one.

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Finally… videos.

 

 

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Responses

  1. […] never see elephants the same way. Look here for a comparison with much bigger Zimbabwean […]

  2. Hey I just wanted to say thankyou for sharing these pictures! I am from Gweru, Zimbabwe and was feeling homesick today… so I googled Antelope Park and your website showed up. These pictures and videos are great, it really made me feel like I was home again!
    Thanks again
    Emma

  3. I was watching the new programme here on ITV here in the UK entitled LION COUNTRY (in 6 parts .. 4 to come) … following David Youldon’s lion breeding programme at Antelope Park, preparing to release them into the wild. Fascinating and like you, Emma, made me very homesick.

  4. Just fantastic pics & video clips – thank you! I’m a Zimbabwean living in South Fork, Colorado (since 2007) – saw Antelope Park grow since 1997 when living in Kadoma & Gweru; personal friends of the owner Andy Conolly – these pics will do him proud. Enjoy the memories!… Zimbabwe despite the troubles is a magnificent country.

  5. Thank you for posting your pictures and videos. Those lions are awesome and their manes are beautiful!! I live in Zimbabwe and as Rogan Taylor said it is magnificent – the animals are too wonderful for words. Too be sure everything God has made is beautiful and we need to take care of them and the earth. Thank you again.

    • Thanks for all your comments. I really enjoyed Antelope Park. To everyone considering traveling to Africa or even anywhere, I recommend visiting Zimbabwe. Probably some of the best nature I saw in over 40 countries.

  6. Thank you for posting this! I’ll be a volunteer at the park this coming July and seeing pictures and videos like this…well … I have a hug smile on my face now. thanks again!

  7. Thank you SO much for the wonderful photos and videos. Now I’m even more excited for my upcoming trip to Antelope Park (July 16). Cannot wait!

  8. Wow thankyou so much.. I too will be there in July and am jumping out of my skin with excitement!!

  9. Thank you so much for the photos, myself and 2 friends will be volunteering at Antelope Park in September this year, we are all so excited. Its really good to have an idea what to expect. Thank you again

  10. i have some lovely picture of my family in antelope park, gweru its wonderful being there, if you want i can post these pictures for you


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