On a visit to Zambia, Stefan, Lise-Marie, Kate, Jason, Gordon and Lésa get invited to join a lion collaring operation in Sioma Ngwezi National Park. A young, female that was collared a while ago has grown and her collar needs adjusting.

The plan is to head out to the last known location of the lioness’ pride and then search for her from there using telemetry. It’s a 30km drive over rough terrain with no existing roads to follow, so it takes much longer than expected to find the lions. As it gets dark, navigating through the bush becomes very difficult, so a team member heads to the roof of the vehicle for a better view as they go.

Africa teaches patience like nowhere else and the Peace Parks crew know to expect the unexpected when they are out in the bush. This time, it is a puncture that slows them down, just a couple of kilometres from the lion’s last location point. The unsteady, sandy terrain makes the tyre swop tricky, but working together they manage to get it done and continue on.

Just short of two hours later, they spot the pride and manage to successfully dart the lioness and adjust her collar. It’s a remarkable experience for all involved as lion conservation is such an important part of the work.

Three-quarters of African lion populations are in decline. With only around 20,000 left in the wild, they’re now officially classified by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species as ‘vulnerable’. It is critical to protect every single remaining lion as they are an important keystone species. As the top predator in their environment, they play a crucial role in maintaining healthy populations of prey species, such as zebra and wildebeest. This, in turn influences the condition of the landscape. Furthermore, by protecting the lion’s landscape, Peace Parks and partners help the area to thrive, benefitting wildlife as well as the people who rely on local natural resources too.