Following a successful career as an actress, Virginia McKenna founded the Born Free Foundation in 1984. Working to save lives, stop suffering and protect species in the wild, it is now one of the world’s most respected wildlife welfare charities. Virginia is also one of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’s founding Patrons. In this unprecedented time while our sanctuary is in lockdown, and following the release of our latest Impact Report, Virginia sent us a message of support.

"What is so inspiring to me about the Lilongwe team is their total focus on the individual – 174 animals to look after – that is no small challenge."

We all know the immensity of the challenges facing human beings during this uncharted Coronavirus territory that we are experiencing. An aspect we may be less aware of, is the dilemma facing wildlife rescue centres – all over the world – where the vital income from the public could seriously diminish.

With people unable to travel to and from work, and the innocent animals totally dependent on their carers, how can a solution be found?

Some of the Lilongwe wildlife team have made a selfless and very compassionate decision. They will stay at the centre, with the animals, for as long as it takes. No one, of course, will know how long that will be. 

Very recently new animals have arrived including a pangolin, a baboon, two vervet monkeys, a python and a tortoise.  Many rescued from traffickers.  

It was in 2009 that we rescued a beautiful lioness, Bella, from a crumbling zoo in Romania, and brought her to this wonderful Centre. She was joined five years later by Simba, an ex-circus lion, and they became inseparable. Tragically they both became seriously ill in 2017, and had to be put to sleep. They were much loved and respected ‘residents’ and are deeply missed.

What is so inspiring to me about the Lilongwe team is their total focus on the individual – 174 animals to look after – that is no small challenge. When possible, the animals are returned to the wild. This is just one aspect of their work.  They also inspire and educate thousands of school children; they engage teachers in environmental education; plant hundreds of trees and take on the illegal wildlife trade.

I am sure many people reading this will already be aware of the Trust’s work and how much it deserves our support, but I feel, especially at this time of huge challenges, good news cannot be mentioned too often.

I have always felt deeply honoured to be a Patron of this Trust, and each year my Trust grows stronger.