Africa is known for its wonderful wildlife, a vast array of animals who stomp, slither and swim across the spectacular landscape. Many people visit the southern reaches of the continent to see the ‘Big Five’: African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. Today was one of their special days.
World Lion Day is on August 20, apparently. There aren’t many in Malawi. The largest African cat is only found in a few wildlife reserves. Luckily for us, one of them happens to be right in the middle of Lilongwe!
In the UK, wild animals within the confines of a city are usually kept in a zoo. Though they do tend to them and try to make their life as pleasurable as possible, it’s not the sole aim of the zoo to do so. The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is different; its only purpose is to care for sick and injured animals, often ones who have been rescued from horrible situations abroad.
Many species are visible in the wildlife centre, including baboons…
…a massive python, which terrifyingly was partially camouflaged within a tyre…
…and vervet monkeys. Many, many monkeys.
These cheeky chimps apparently jump out of their own enclosure and steal the food of other animals, which is why certain animals are fed at dusk. Other than that, they’re generally well-behaved. Being allowed to roam free around much of the enclosure, and in very close proximity to humans, comes with a bit of responsibility.
All of these creatures are charming and are brilliantly looked after by the wildlife centre. We gathered lots of information about them and the work of the place from boards placed on the sanctuary trail; certainly a lot more than our guide, Maxwell, who seemed to be trying to speak as fast as possible in a thick Malawian accent.
On the trail we were also taken past the clinic, where the animals are regularly checked upon and maintained.
Being World Lion Day, we had come to see the ‘King of the Jungle’. We weren’t disappointed, with one male (Simba) and one female (Bella) sleeping and then stirring a few dozen metres away from us.
Remarkably, Simba was sleeping with his foot in the air. Their stories are both sad and heartening – sad in terms of the way they were treated in France and Romania respectively, and heartening because they have been rescued and are now getting the love and care they were lacking in Europe.
Unfortunately, most of these animals will never return to the wild again, having lost many of the hunting skills needed to survive outside of the centre’s walls. Nonetheless, it is lovely to see that they are being cared for in such a loving way. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is definitely worth a visit for that reason alone.
Love you all