Introduction to the Africa Series
In the Summer of 2016, I jetted off to Hoedspruit, South Africa for a 9 week work placement at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Africa had been a lifelong dream for me, and to have to opportunity to go was the greatest thing to happen in my life. This is part one of a “who knows how many” part series on my trip to Africa!
I flew into Johannesburg on August 13, took a 6 hour shuttle ride to Hoedspruit, and a 30 minute van ride to the Rehab. It was exactly like the movies: a fenced in property; zebras and antelope of all kinds roaming around; giraffes and monkeys walking beside the van; a mountain situated in the background, like some really poetic scene straight out of an Africa documentary.
When we arrived it was nearly dark. We got all situated in our bunks and were excited to discover that next to the bunks were lions, cheetahs and hyenas, all of whom are ambassadors. They were either human imprinted from cubs, or rescued at an age where they need constant care and cannot be released into the wild. A choice made every time an animal is brought into the rehabilitation centre is whether or not to euthanize, or raise them with human imprinting and condemn them to a life in a “camp” (A LARGE fenced in enclosure).
We made our rounds in the morning and saw several more exciting animals, including: two leopards, several honey badgers, serval cats, vultures, eagles, owls, and a ground hornbill who was full of personality. All of these animals were either orphaned at birth and brought in by civilians from automobile accidents, or found by rangers who discovered them poisoned. Some of the vultures and eagles had been caught in snares or hit telephone wires with their wings. It really drove home the impact we as humans have on the lives of these incredible animals.
Africa was an amazing experience and it taught me a lot about animals and people, and mostly about myself. It helped me form opinions on captive animals with first hand experience. I would love to see all animals roaming free, and that is Moholoholo’s goal. No perfectly healthy and wild animal is kept there for any reason.
Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre holds the belief that all animals are valuable, no matter how small or big, wild or tame. I watched them assign special cases like serval kittens, baby honey badgers, and 51 leopard tortoises to volunteers willing to take on the extra work. I personally had a few special cases to my name, which you will hear all about over the course of our blog!
Animals who are special cases are generally not shown to the public. They are the animals who require special attention, treatment, diets or enclosures. Some of the special cases are taken on by staff, however if it is a case that can be cared for by a student, they will assign someone willing to take on the extra work. Over my 9 week course at Moholoholo, I had a total of 10 special cases: 5 vultures, 2 honey badger babies, one serval kitten, one full-grown caracal, and one small bat. Skylar the serval kitten was one of the special cases I was lucky to have the chance to work with, and he was a handful! He will be the first Special Case I tell you about, so stay tuned for his story in our next instalment of the Africa series!