Natalie’s walk on the wild side

Natalie McGill
Natalie McGill

A PONTEFRACT woman had a wild adventure when she spent a month in Africa working with lions at a game reserve.

Natalie McGill, 21, worked at Antelope Park Game Reserve in Zimbabwe, helping a lion conservation programme which is helping boost declining lion numbers by breeding them and releasing them back into the wild.

Among her tasks was to ‘walk’ lions, aged up to 17 months, assist in veterinary care, horse riding into the bush to check fences for poacher damage, preparing carcasses for the lions and she also spent time training the project’s orphaned elephants. She also made regular visits to teach children at local orphanages.

Natalie said: “It was an amazing experience. Every day we did walked with the lions, it was pretty exciting – they’re definitely not tame animals.

“You have to observe their behaviour and follow the rules and make sure that you and the animal are safe at all times.”

Natalie, of Carleton Road, decided to go out to Africa after completing a degree in animal management.

She said: “I wanted to make a difference, lions are in decline in the wild, so I wanted to do my bit. In the future I would like a career working in animal conservation.

“I’ve been privileged to participate in a great conservation program and learnt a lot about Zimbabwe. Africa has greatly influenced my perspective on life, the program was simply amazing, without a doubt the greatest thing I have ever done.

“The project has given me more confidence and experience with animals in the wild and I plan to take part in more conservation programmes and hopefully a return to Africa in the future.”