Name: Fliss Steventon
Country: England, UK
Dates of stay: 21/4/2015 – 14/7/2015
Occupation: Registered Veterinary Nurse
Why did you decide to volunteer?
I had been thinking about volunteering for a while but didn’t know where to start. I happened to attend a veterinary congress where I met WVS (Worldwide Veterinary Services) they gave me some leaflets on volunteer schemes available for vets and nurses. I had a look later that day and came across Lilongwe Wildlife Centre! And thought yes this is exactly want I would love to do and a in a country that I have always dreamed of coming to. I applied and got a response within a week……. Then the journey began 🙂
Why did you choose Lilongwe Wildlife Centre over other projects?
I had been recommended it by WVS, It was also in a country I wanted to visit and also had the opportunities to work with a variety of different wildlife species. Giving me the experience I have been searching for.
What kind of work did you get involved in? What did you enjoy the most/the least?
• I was involved with all animal related work. From Orphan Care (Animal sittings, feeding, cleaning etc) Animal Care (working with animal care guys to feed and clean all other animals at the center). Clinic work (Health checks of vervets, baboons, sparrow hark, duikers and lions, surgeries, dressing changes, microscope work and also cleaning). Enrichment (For all animals in enclosures who did not have access to an outside enclosure). Integration (Working with Alma to move orphans into troops), And Pre-release (working with Nika monitoring and recording troop interactions)
• I have enjoyed all the work that I have been involved in but in particular anything that involved clinic work (lion work and all the other anesthetics I have had the privilege to be allowed to assist in)as this was very interesting for me, I also enjoyed enrichment as it became my little project with the guidance from Alma.
• I even enjoyed the manic and no stop days but the early mornings were never something that I really looked forward to, I love my bed too much!
Can you describe a typical day?
Each day was never really the same unless you where me! Due to being a long stay volunteer I was rotated on to the animals that were more difficult to feed or didn’t not like too many different people (Duikers, hyena cub and some vervets). Which I loved as this gave me most satisfaction when they drank or ate for me. Also having veterinary nursing behind me I also had opportunities to get involved in clinic on a regular basis.
• First task of the day would to be drag myself out of bed at 5:30 or 5:55 (this happened more often)
• I would then go into OC and prep for the day, this consisted of – Changing towels, preparing buckets for sterilizing bottles and tools, filling thermos up with hot water (just in case the power were to go out) and making up milk up ready for my first feed.
• First feed of the day usually where duikers that were still being bottle fed
• I then would come back into volunteer house and feed myself.
• I would then attend an AC meeting so I could discuss with the guys what enrichment I was going to be giving that day but it also gave me an opportunity to find out if there were any changes to how much was needed.
• I would then spend the next hour and half preparing enrichment then go and give it to the correct AC staff that was looking after a particular area.
• Then feed some duikers again and maybe a vervet or blues
• Help in OC if needed
• Go on browse (this is where you go and collect branches for all monkeys and duikers in enclosures that did not have access to larger outside pens.
• Pre- release for 3 hours
• Feed Duikers
• Then back for dinner, shower and either a night out with everyone or bed.
What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of the charity work we do?
They are the only wildlife centre in Lilongwe and do so such not only for the animals but for the communities. The center has a dedicated team that care for all the animals. Any animal they get in the overall goal is to try and release them back into the wild this can sometimes take several months of rehabilitation and care which the centre provides. If this is not possible the welfare of the animal is considered. I feel the hands off policy is brilliant it gives the animals the best chance of being able to be released. Young orphan monkeys that we get in do require us (volunteers) to sit with them but we are given instructions on how to handle and act around them. We do not treat them like pets, we groom them and play with them in the same way they would with others in their troop.
If you have volunteered at other projects, how do we compare in terms of volunteer experience/welfare etc?
This is the first volunteer project I have been on.
What are the staff like?
They are awesome all hard working and in it for the animals.
What have you taken away from your experience at LWC?
I have been told in previous jobs that I require more experience, I feel that spending the last 3 months here at the centre not only have I gained vital nursing and wildlife experience but life experience. Working here has also made me rethink my career and I feel that I am going to look into and explore wildlife nursing. I would also love to come back and volunteer here again or even work if there is a job available.
What could be improved (this could be anything, from internal communication and interaction with management and other staff, house issues, work schedules etc etc)
Who would you recommend this project to in future?
Animal people, vet nurses and anyone who is willing to stay longer than two weeks as you can gain so much more the longer you are here.
Out of 10, how would you rate:
Your overall personal experience: 8
Volunteer facilities e.g. accommodation, food etc: 7
Staff and management (professionalism, approachability etc): 8
The effectiveness of the project in helping Malawi’s wildlife (welfare, conservation etc): 9