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Andy Connolly

Andy read for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Natal Andrew became a successful cattle and crocodile farmer in the Matobo Hills before purchasing Antelope Park in 1987 near the city of Gweru in the Zimbabwe Midlands to begin game ranching.

In 1998 he branched out into tourism and founded African Encounter. Antelope Park was developed through building what has become one of Zimbabwe’s premier tourist locations with a stunning lodge on the banks of the Ngamo dam. The major focus of the Park was the development of the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into theWIld Program. Since then the lion release program has been expanded to Victoria Falls and now Livingstone in Zambia.

As recently as 1975, over 200,000 lions may have roamed the African continent. In 2002 estimates put the population between 23,000 and 39,000, representing an 80 – 90% decline in less than 30 years.More recent reports from across the continent suggest that not only are lion populations continuing to decline but they are doing so at an even faster rate.The IUCN currently classifies the lion as a “vulnerable” species on the Red List of Threatened Species.

There is probably no other species whose distribution range has shrunk over historical times to the extent shown by the lion.” Smithers 1983

The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust works with all sectors of society throughout Africa to promote the development of sustainable lion conservation management plans. ALERT is proud to foster partnerships with stakeholders to collaboratively develop and implement African solutions to African challenges. ALERT promotes community action by raising awareness, motivating and empowering people to protect and restore their environment and improve livelihoods.


The project is also a featured TV series produced by ITV WILD and can be seen on Lion Country

African Encounter has also expanded greatly since these humble beginnings through the development of a number of lodges including Miombo adjacent to Hwange National Park and the Team House in Cape Town. African Encounter operates a successful overland tour operation under the divisional name African Christian Tours & Safaris whilst the development of Pathfinders offers an exciting array of adventure filled tours across the continent. Celebrate Africa offers unique event management whilst Let’s Travel provides a one stop travel service including flights, accommodation and tours.

African Impact offers volunteer programs and has become Africa’s largest such operator based on the continent and was a finalist in the 2009 and 2011 World Travel Awards for Africa’s Leading Conservation Company with projects from Kenya and Mozambique to Namibia and Zambia. The African Impact Interact program also offers opportunities for corporate and incentive groups to take part in community development programs as part of their itinerary.

In 2005 Andrew founded the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust and in 2007 also developed the Happy Africa Foundation. In 2011 Andrew also launched Cricket Tours Africa.

THE GROUP: African Impact | Lion Encounter | Antelope Park | ACTS | The Team House | The Happy Africa Foundation | Brackenhurst |