We also have a few cats here. There are two servals, a small African wild cat. One named Charley was rescued from animal traders when he was just 6 weeks old. He has cataracts which make his vision cloudy so he wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild. The other serval is named Hamu. He was found on the road and is too comfortable with people. We are trying to minimize contact with him in the hope that he will eventually be able to go back to the wild.
There are also a pair of African lions, Simba and Bella. The female, Bella, only has one eye and joint problems because she was kept poorly in a zoo in Europe. Because of her disabilities and long captivity she cannot be released. Simba was rescued from a circus in Belgium by Born Free. He now lives happily with Bella. Keeping these cats safe is a big deal because there are only 30 wild lions left in Malawi.
The sanctuary also has two types of antelope, Duiker and Bushbuck. Duiker are tiny, shy antelopes with horns. Some were brought in by people who thought the babies had been abandoned, even though the mother probably just left in search of food. Others have been rescued from people selling them as pets on the roadside. For example, one of our male Duiker, named Doxy, was sold to a lecturer at Luanar College. A student, who works as a ranger, saw him and called Lilongwe. Doxy was confiscated and brought here.
Bushbucks are medium-sized antelopes with white stripes and dots on their sides. Often we see orphans whose mothers have been killed by people who trade in illegal bush meat. Fortunately, most of the orphaned Bushbacks can be rehabilitated and released into Kuti Wildlife Reserve.
Last but not least, there’s also a big rock python named Henry. He joined us from the zoo so he doesn’t know how to hunt on his own. He’s 13 years old and 4 meters long. He’s not venomous but he could be deadly if he’s not handled properly.
Caring for all of these permanent residents is a big job. That’s one of the reasons the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre needs so many volunteers and donations too. For myself, I just feel lucky to be in a place that tries to do the right thing for these animals. Wild animals simply don’t belong in people’s homes or circuses or zoos that can't care for them properly. Whenever they can, the staff here tries to rehabilitate animals so they can live in the wild. And, when that's not possible, they give the animals a permanent home where they won't be neglected or mistreated.