In an effort to broaden activities at tourist attraction centres countrywide, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) is introducing lions at Chinhoyi Caves, 129km from Harare, along the Beitbridge-Chirundu road.

Zimparks Public Relations Manager, Tinashe Farawo, says the authority wants to increase tourism activities at Chinhoyi Caves in addition to the traditional cave viewing, to attract more tourists to the site.

Farawo says two adult lions have since been relocated to Chinhoyi Caves from Antelope Park in Gweru. The other two lions will be relocated soon. “Zimparks is enhancing the destination by increasing activities. Tourist are no longer limited to one activity, but can now also do game drives,” he continues.

For now, Farawo says, Zimparks will only keep four lions at the caves, but the number is subject to review, depending on how the first phase of the project goes. He says options to bring other big wildlife species to the area are also being considered.

Prior to the introduction of the lions there were virtually no large animals, although monkeys, baboons, warthogs and rock hares were occasionally spotted.

The caves consist of a system of tunnels and caverns that are slowly collapsing due to time and erosion, leaving sinkholes and depressions in the surrounding area. The Wonder Hole, which is the main feature of the caves, is in fact a ‘swallow hole’, or a large cavern with a collapsed roof.

The Wonder Hole drops vertically for 46 metres to the Sleeping Pool, which is 80-90 metres deep depending on the rainfall patterns that particular season.

Thousands of tourists, both local and international, visit Chinhoyi Caves annually.