The Lilongwe Wildlife center

At the airport I was met by Andrew from the Lilongwe Rescue center. Kay had already arrived together with a girl from Holland Leonnie. The drive to the center was about half an hour and in the mean time rain was pouring down. It’s now 8pm and it feels like 11 and we had a first glimpse of some of the animals we will be looking after in the next 2 weeks. 5 baby black faced vervet monkeys in one cage and the one next door 2 tiny little babies who need 24h care. That means that volunteers take turns to spend a few hours with them and just be there. The monkeys need body contact and they sure are a delight to see. They suckle their fingers just like our babies do. But not the thumb though, no 3 or 4 fingers at once. I even got to feed one already J That means, so ready for the next couple of days and the adventure that is awaiting us.
Kay and I are staying in a separate little cabin away from the main house and I sure am glad I picked that one. Peace and quiet, not counting the rain of course.
My first night here was a very early one after a much desereved shower. My matress is kinda wel interessing as I could actualy feel the wooden bars underneath but I can happily say that it didn’t bother me at all during the night. I was out like a light!
At 5:45am I was awoken by the most wonderful sound.. Bella the lion’s roar! I just couldn’t believe it. This truly is Africa to me. Her roars weren’t as long and loud as the roars I used to hear at Antelope Park, but still! A delight to hear.
Soon after that the sun started peeping through into our cabin and dawn was soon upon us.
This morning was our first proper volunteer day and it started after breakfast with a tour of the Center. It is much bigger than I had epxected, even with a wilderness trail of 10km.
Michelle walked us (the three new volunteers) through it and our fist stop was at the servalcat’s Chorlewi enclosure . In the enclosure on the other side of Chorlewi was the leopard’s enclosure, Kambuku . But the one I was most eager to see was of course Bella’s. Bella the lion who was brought in here together with the help of the Born Free Foundation. Poor Bella is so lonely and is in desperate need for a mate, male or female just to keep her company. As we all know, lions do live in prides. She did once have the company of another female and cub but they sadly passed away. That wasn’t here at the center but back in the old days in Europe. I didn’t get to see her (or any of the other 2 cats) but we free to go over there as often as we have the time for. Bella especially loves to have company and is definitly not people shy.
Othere animals’ enclosures we came accross where: Duiker, springbok, black-faced vervet monkeys, yellow and olive baboons, an owl, tortoises, a python, porcipine, crocodiles, …
A lot of the animals come  here after being kept as pets. People still think they can keep wild animals as pets in their home.. Silly, ignorant people.
Others are rescued from the market. Yes, they are stolen from the wild, mothers are often killed so that they can take the baby away and sell them on the streets. You see, people are poor here, very poor. Some make like one dollar, yes ONE a day. You would think that food and other supplies in the supermarket are cheap but they really are not!! Well, still cheaper than over in Europe but for the local people terribly expensive!!
After the tour we were taken into town so that we could know our way around a bit and buy some supplies. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served ofcourse but extras like some fruit, sodas, beer, wine,.. we had to buy ourself. I also got some extras for breakfast as the choice is limited and I don’t fancy eating toasted bread with peanut butter every day 🙂
To get into town we just wait by the side of the street and wait for a little van to pass and when they have free places they hoot the horn and you can just step on. Of course they are packed. And I can tell you, when it’s hot it can get rather stuffed in there 🙂 Luckely we didn’t have to go that far.
Town is just like any other place in Africa I have been to. As there were 4 white woman walking the streets you can imagine we were like flies 🙂 Guys all around us trying to give us the best bargain on their products (oil canvasses, wooden carved keyrings, bracelets, ..).
We can go into town whenever we want to but they prefer us not to go alone for safety reasons. Also our cabin, the bigger volunteers lounge, sitting room and kitchen everything gets locked up at night, even double locked! Safety comes first.
We just had our lunch and in about half an hour we can do our first proper work and I am really looking forward to it. Kay and I are on ‘primates’ which means that we’ll be cutting up food for the monkeys and we can go and throw it over their enclosures.
The sky is getting dark and grey again so I am pretty sure the next load of rain is upon us. Hopefully not for too long. Without the rains and accompanying winds it sure gets hot! This morning it was hot and sticky.
Our first afternoon job, which always starts at 2pm was the primates. That means cutting up a whole lot of fruit and veggies for the different species. Today they had corn and mango. Now, the corn was still in its green shell so we got knives (or what was described as a big knife) and we had to cut the pieces into 2 or 3.. easier said than done. After about half an hour started getting a blister and soon after that it was completely open and very painful. owch! I guess I do am an office lady 🙂
We were done at around 3 but had to wait until 3:30 before the feeding could start. We just go around the different monkey enclosures and throw it all over the wired electrical fence. The monkeys sure were ready for it, arguing, fighting as they all want the best and biggest pieces of course. And for some enclosures we had to split up as they otherwise start to fight over the pieces of food.
We were off after that but asked the guys that we were with if we could do something else as it was still too early to just hang around. After asking a couple of times they let us help them chickenwire the enclosures. They did have 2 pliers so one of us could help with that and the other could filll the empty buckets.. great.. but that just didn’t happen too fast as the pressure was very low on the water. Luckely I did get to help a bit tying up the chicken wire. I sure hope we can do more extra stuff, even if it’s just like helping out with the maintenance guys. So much to be done here and definitly much more that we, the voluntees could help out with.
Because I had some time after that small job I decided to take my camera out, yes for the very fist time since I have been here!! Unbelievable but true. I went to our servalcat and leopard and what a beautiful sight I had there. The serval  was just walking around his enclosure and was definitly not intimitated by me. He lay down a few feet away from me and just let me come and sit right in front of him. Very nice. They are such beautiful creatures. The lines on their ears, the small cat-like head on a way too large body and on high legs.
Next stop was the leopard one but I couldn’t see her anywher so I went off to Bella’s. Couldn’t see her at first so I thought she was still on the other side of the fence but as I looked into her indoors enclosure there she was! She was on her platform and in no mood to come outside. She’s still a bit shaken-up after here sedation yesterday. They had to to some check-ups and she was still recovering from it. i should get a better look at her in the next couple of days.
I quickly went into our little monkey’s enclosure. Those are the babies that need to be bottle fed every few hourrs and the two youngest even need 24h surveillance. So volunteers work in shifts to be with them for a couple of hours. They are so adorable! Sucking their fingers, jumping and peeing all over you 🙂 Their hands are so soft and their fingers so long and lean. Just too cute for words, that’s all I can say!!
So did I have a good first day? I sure had and more to follow. There’s a big difference with the workings at antelope park, that’s for sure. I do think that volunteers could be more active and do even more around the place but it’s an improvement!

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