As always when I travel, I try to visit a wildlife rehabilitation centre as I realise that you learn a lot more by seeing their work in action, the animals' enclosures, talking to the people working there and of course ask questions.
So at the end of my trip to Zambia and Malawi early August 2018, I stopped at Lilongwe Wildlife centre on my way to the airport. Their mission is to protect Malawi’s wildlife by helping wild animals in need, combatting wildlife crime and empowering guardians of the wild.
I knew that they were doing a great work but I must admit: with a tour of the centre starting every hour, I was curious to understand how the mass of people could impact the animals in rehabilitation. Indeed, wild animals in rehabilitation need to have as little contact with humans as possible as they approach their return to the wild. I was pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, we were only 3 visitors including myself, with this number being generally higher at weekends I was told.
Secondly, as the video shows, the animals enclosures are barely visible at first sight as they are set in a natural environment, which is great for the animals getting used their future habitat.
When you stop in front of an enclosure with an information board about the species inside it, I noticed that you can only see one side of the enclosure, two at the most. This means that if animals aren't on your side, you won't see them. It was the case of a serval, and that's great news! It is not a zoo and these animals need space and freedom to behave naturally.
Thirdly, in addition to the animal information board, there are great reminders of the threats most of rescued wild animals face. Clear, simple, well explained. The tour itself takes about 40 min.
I asked about rehabilitation protocols, releases, release site, monitoring and was, again, very happy to hear the same methods that other successful rehabilitation centres implement.
Like most rehabilitation centres, not all animals can be released: either because they had injuries that would affect their prospect of survival, or because they are not endemic from Malawi or anywhere near and cannot be introduced as a non native species. They have really nice, clean and spacious enclosures to live the best possible life in captivity.
The centre is a lovely place in general, the staff is friendly and helpful and they take volunteers. So if you ever wish to help a great wildlife centre in Malawi, Lilongwe is the place! And if you wish to donate to help them, contact me so I can set up a fund for them.
See what their impact was in 2017, well done Lilongwe!
I'm now planning my next trip that will be focussed on other wildlife conservation projects, and I will reveal more in due time.
Lilongwe’s website: www.lilongwewildlife.org
Lilongwe’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lilongwewildlifetrust
Lilongwe’s Instagram page: @lilongwewildlife