Learning About African Lions and Preparing for Their Arrival

The lions are coming, the lions are coming, the lions are coming! We took a break from homeschool this week to focus on lions. We have four lions arriving from South Africa on Monday. Two males and two females that will make up our starter population. To say we are excited is an understatement. There haven’t been lions seen in this reserve since the 1980s, but the project has restored their habitat to make sure there is plenty for these predators to eat and all the final preparations for their arrival are being made. The holding area (called a boma) is finished, this is a 250 square meter fenced enclosure where the lions will be held for their first three to four weeks so that they can be closely monitored. The reserve’s perimeter fence is also being upgraded and any holes or gullies that a lion could slip through are being filled in preparation for their release from the boma. This is extremely important because there are communities living just outside the reserve that wouldn’t be very happy with an unexpected visitor.

Early tomorrow morning my husband will go out with a small team to track and shoot an old buffalo that has already been identified to provide the lions with their first meal. Monday will be a busy day, the lions will arrive by plane at an airstrip about an hour away, they will be transported from South Africa wrapped in cargo nets and sedated. Once they are settled in the boma and the nets are removed the tranquilizer will be reversed and they will awake in their new home. The girls and I have been visiting the lion boma every chance we get and have seen the work progress over the last three weeks. Here we are inspecting the finished product. There is a double gate system to allow a vehicle to enter one gate, offload food, exit that same gate, close it and open the inner gate to allow the lions to get into their meal. There is screening on this side of the boma so the lions won’t see that process. Once the inner gate is open they won’t see the vehicle, just the food there waiting for them.

Learning About Lions

This week we made a number of lion crafts. This scrap paper lion idea came from No Time For Flashcards, but we did a smaller version. I drew an outline of a lion and then the girls tore up pieces of scrap paper and pasted them inside. I cut out the lion and we glued it to a finger-painted background before adding the scrap paper mane and our eyes and mouth piece.

Learning About Lions

We also made hand and foot print lions. We added manes by using Getting Messy With Ms. Jessi’s clever idea for making stamps out of toilet paper rolls. Here Boo is adding faces and details with markers. You can find more footprint lions at Handprint and Footprint Art.

Learning About Lions

We printed this cute finger puppet from Mood Kids.

Learning About Lions

And we made lion mane masks out of paper plates, craft sticks and yarn, the idea came from Preschool Playbook where they added ears and used two different colors of yarn. We went for simple knowing that the finished product would be fun but wouldn’t last long.

Learning About Lions

Learning About Lions

We watched an episode of Spirello on YouTube called “A Thorn in Lion’s Tail” and we learned some fun facts about lions by looking them up in our animal encyclopedia and finding them in our deck of animal fact cards. We have some new vocabulary including boma, pride, mane and cub and we spent a lot of time roaring and dancing with a passion to the oldie but goodie “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Next week we will see some lions up close and personal. It will be Kook’s first sighting and the first that Boo will remember, although she did see a couple of lions in Zambia when she was about five months old. My next post about the lions will include pictures. We are hoping that the reintroduction of lion will be a boost to the safari industry that helps support this reserve and the project my husband works for. We are far enough from the boma that we won’t hear the lions calling at night but I’m hoping that once they are released they will adopt a home range that incorporates our house. There is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of lions calling!

About Jody Tilbury

13 Responses to “Learning About African Lions and Preparing for Their Arrival”

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  1. Heather says:

    Wow, I love your crafts. I recently went on a camp in a lion game farm and it was amazing. The lion cubs are so cute.
    I’ve done some hand art before which is cool – a hand turns into a frog or an eagle, depending on how you place it.
    Enjoy the coming of the lions!

  2. How exciting to be getting four lions! I love all of your lion crafts!!!

  3. How interesting to be part of this, to be able to observe all this!

    I am excited to see how things go with the introduction.

  4. What an amazing experience for you and your family!! I’m so jealous!! How cool!!

  5. Shannon says:

    Love all the lion crafts. Now I am really excited about making the trip down that way and meeting y’all, not that I wasn’t already excited, but lions are too cool (and scary).

  6. Jjiraffe says:

    What an amazing and unique lesson! I hope the lion introduction goes well :)

  7. Kathy says:

    How cool! I love that you are getting to experience this first hand and that I get to read about it and see pictures! I also really like that song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” It is an oldie, but a goodie! As always, your craft projects with your girls look so fun and it inspires me to be more crafty with my kids. Can’t wait to hear how the introduction goes and what your daughters think of the whole experience. Thank you for sharing. I find your life truly fascinating and am grateful that you share about it here.

  8. What wonderful crafts, but above all what an amazing experience for you and your kids! What a wonderful teaching opportunity, and good for you for taking advantage of it! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Becky says:

    I love this!!! I’m sharing on kidworldcitizen’s facebook page! My kids want to know if you will please post pictures of the lions if you can:).

    • Jody Tilbury says:

      Thanks Becky! I’m having some trouble getting good photos of the lions (the girls and I have only been to see them once) but I will definitely post some soon. My husband has a few of them unconscious but I’d like to get one of them awake – if I can’t I’ll just post what we have. They are enormous!

  10. Maura says:

    Jody, you guys continue to amaze me! I love that you are able to share your exciting life with all of us and I continue to share with friends b/c of how proud I am of you guys!! I love you and miss you!

  11. Wonderful post! Just featured it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/alldonemonkey)!