On Friday, February 10th after heavy than normal rains throughout the week, the Lingadzi river overflowed into the Wildlife Centre within a matter of hours, causing serious damage which is now estimated at $3,000 for clean up and repairs.
- The main perimeter fence where the river entered and exited the reserve, as well as both Duiker enclosures in their entirety were irrevocably broken, with fences packed with debris and metal poles bent in half. The ground is also completely saturated which prevents re-building for some time.
- The hut in our private venue hire garden was totally destroyed, as were many of the garden structures and playground apparatus, which was found collapsed and in pieces.
- Some of the furniture from the information centre, picnic benches, and equipment was gradually located from the trees further downstream, but much was damaged and the smaller equipment was gone for good. Much of the bar stock from the pump house was damaged and a whole bookcase of education books was caught in the information centre and ruined – a heart-breaking sight!
- Water systems suffered due to the mud which had entered at every opportunity, as did many of the electrical systems in place at the bar, pump house information centre and amphitheatre.
Meanwhile every time it rains we take a deep breath and hope that the floods will not come again. We have never experienced such flooding before but this is the fourth time this year that we have seen the Lingadzi river break its banks– and this was by a long way the worst flood ever seen!
We rely on the generosity and support of our local and international friends. If you would like to donate to help repair and clean up our Wildlife Centre, please click here. Any funding towards this is greatly appreciated and desperately needed!
Read below for details of the flood, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for how you can make a donation via Paypal or directly into our UK bank account. Thanks for any help you can offer!
The sun was out in the morning but on arrival at work the Wildlfie Centre staff members found the playground to be flooded at a low level. Using our “How tall are you?” sign as a guide – the water was as tall as a baboon at 8am. The pathway to the sanctuary was under water at the second bridge, blocking us from the animal care side, so the only way to reach the sanctuary was by driving all the way around Kamuzu hospital. We acknowledged that the water was rising not falling but we had no idea what was coming!
As waters continued to rise we realised that things were only getting worse and tried to salvage items from the information centre – information boards, cushions and smaller items. Staff waded at chest level through the water to try to recover as much as possible. Unfortunately the water rose very quickly, and was moving very fast, with incredible force. Large tree trunks and debris from the playground started flowing through the rapids, threatening to carry us downstream so we had to abandon the mission and leave the larger items and furniture behind.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the flood, animal caretakers and volunteers worked hard to check on the animals, having found in the early hours of the morning that the water from the river was expanding into the duiker enclosure. By 9.30am almost the whole Duiker enclosure was flooded and it was decided that the fence furthest from the river should be cut to free the trapped animals. The Duikers followed their instincts and took the opportunity to run further into the woods, away from the rising water.
Caretakers then checked the Python enclosure which was ok, the Owl aviary, and the Crocodile enclosure. Spotty the Spotted Eagle Owl was starting to panic due to the raising water in his enclosure. Spotty has a damaged wing and cannot fly. We easily put him into a box and transferred him to another enclosure, where he has spent time recently while we raised young barn owls in the aviary. Spotty was quite content in his temporary home and will stay there for some days until his enclosure has dried out.
We found the croc’s just in time with only around 30cm of fence remaining above the water line, and the crocs investigating the fence line. Using fish to distract the crocodiles we quickly installed new poles to extend the height of the fence with mesh – to allow the water to pass but hold the crocodiles. With the construction team and managers up to their necks in water for around 3 hours they worked hard to erect the fence extension. The crocodiles meanwhile were enjoying their swimming pool and playing hide and seek, popping up right in front of the fence and giving the team a fright. Most wild crocodiles avoid people when possible but these croc’s have been in captivity a long time and so are used to human contact. If they escaped they would have caused a big threat to local people and visitors.
Back at the playground, water continued to rise throughout the morning, finally covering all evidence of the playground equipment, and filling the information centre with fast flowing water to a level above the roof-line. The pump house and bar storage were completely submerged and we wrestled without success to keep water from filling the basement of the amphitheatre.
Staff and visitors could not do much but watch as the water level continued to rise. The newly repaired greenhouse, destined to be a demonstration permaculture garden was engulfed by the fast moving water and received significant damage to the side walls and supporting poles. As water lapped against the bottom of the bar we made a decision to completely remove all stock, in case the bar should join the fate of the other facilities, but at around 12pm, the level slowly started to drop once more.
At its peak the water completely changed the landscape of the wildlife centre. But at least the animals were enjoying it!
HOW TO MAKE A DONATION
1) Paypal here:
2) our UK charity bank account (you can do so as a deposit through online banking or through your branch).
Account Name: Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. Account Number: 00 425 931. Sort Code: 20-20-62 (needed for UK)
Bank Name: Barclays Bank, 74 East Street, Chichester, PO19 1HT. Mail Area 63. England
SWIFT code: BARCGB22. IBAN: GB80 BARC 2020 6200 425 931
Please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you make a donation so we can let you know we have received it safe and sound. Thank you so much for any help you can offer!