Malawi’s wild animals face threats from all sides, including from the illegal trade in bushmeat. The authorities are now cracking down on this practice, thanks in part to a new campaign we launched in partnership with the Government warning of the legal penalties and health risks involved in the illegal trade and consumption of bushmeat.
Whenever animals are confiscated from wildlife offenders, our team at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is on hand to provide the support they need to recover and prepare for a life back in the wild.
This is exactly what happened with a young duiker named Sensa, who arrived at our doors after being rescued from roadside vendors. Duikers are small to medium-sized antelopes that are native to sub-Saharan Africa and commonly hunted for bushmeat. There are three duiker species found in Malawi – the grey, or common duiker, the Natal red duiker and the blue duiker.
After being checked over by one of our vets Sensa was set up in a safe enclosure to recuperate, in preparation for being released back into the wild. Releasing animals like duikers is best done during Malawi’s wet season, when there is plenty of vegetation for food, so the team decided to care for Sensa until the rains started to give her the best shot at life in the wild.
During this time we received a call about a second duiker, who had been found by a concerned passer-by alone near a town. The animal, which we named Zikomo, was just a month old (pictured above).
It quickly became clear to our team that the pair belonged together. Although Zikomo was initially put in an enclosure of his own next to Sensa, the two animals spent most of their time up against the fence sniffing and calling to each other. While we often pair orphaned monkeys and baboons with foster mothers as part of our primate rehabilitation work, we’d never had the opportunity to do the same with duikers. But after observing Zikomo and Sensa’s behaviour we decided to give it a try.
The pair quickly became inseparable, with Zikomo following Sensa around their enclosure as if she was his real mother. It became obvious that the pair should also be released together, so when the rains started and the vegetation in our release site became nice and lush, that’s exactly what we did.
Following a release we always try to monitor the animals to check on their progress. Camera trap footage during the weeks following their release showed Sensa and Zikomo browsing together, sticking close by to one another – a good omen for their new life in the wild.