Before COVID19 hit the world, we had lots of volunteers at our wildlife centre. Though they’ve all been gone since March, when they were with us, we sat down with vet extern Hayley to learn what her time with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust was like.
My name is Haley and I’m a vet from Australia. I came to Malawi to do some normal volunteer stuff like feeding and all that but also to do a bit of vet work. So far I’ve done a few health checks on the baby monkeys we have and also exams on a tortoise, a hegehog, a parrot, lots of random wildlife. You never know what rescues are going to come in or when!
So far it’s really been as I was hoping it would be. A lot of sanctuaries advise rehab and release but they can end up having a very zoo vibe and not really doing the release side.
I have a little bit of an obsession with panoglins so it was so special to see one – she was here when I first arrived. And beyond that I’ve really enjoyed spending time with Tao, an orphan baby monkey. Watching him get more confrotable with his foster mum. I’m reading a book at the moment called Poached. It’s all about the illegal widllfie trade and it all really gets put into perspective being here. Tao was being sold on the side of the road you know. So to be able to actually be in a position to help those animals is incredible.
I’ve also done a bit of enrichment and some of the intergrations too. It’s been really amazing to witness every state of the process – from the rescue, to the rehabilitaion and release of others. You know. Feeding the small babies, introductions to foster mums, watching the little ones intergrate together and releasing the juvenile male vervets. Actually watching the slides being open for the first time for a small group whose been living on the fence line of a larger troop but that haven’t interacted yet. Watching what happens when they can run through to each other and learning all the behaviours was really, really interesting. And the enrichment prep – that’s such a craft day right – like being a kid again creating puzzles and things.
I’ve enjoyed meeting other volunteers too. Right now there are people from the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the States. Some are vet nurses or conservation workers. But others don’t have jobs in any animal field and love it equally. It’s a real boiling pot of different life experiences.
I always wanted to work with wildlife. Well like from when I was five years old. So this trip is kind of one way to help me to figure out where I’d want to be with it all – out in the field, in a sanctuary clinic or whatever. It’s a work in progress. And it’s one I’m really enjoying.