Once animals are rehabilitated we make every effort to release animals back into the wild where they belong and just last year we released 57. We evaluate each case carefully to decide if, when, where and how they should be released and animals are carefully monitored pre and post release to ensure the best chance of survival.
Our Primate Release Programme
Our primate release project is currently operating out of Kasungu National Park where we released a troop of yellow baboons in January 2015. This is after two successful prior releases; a troop of vervet monkeys in January 2014 and a further troop of yellow baboons in January 2013. In January 2016 we plan to release a further troop of vervet monkeys, which are currently being prepped for the wild!
Primates are complex animals with sensitive social structures and therefore the entire troop has to be monitored carefully for months to assess their suitability for release. Many of the individuals at the centre have chequered histories which may affect their ability to survive out in the wild. Prior to their release, all individuals underwent an intensive rehabilitation process and we invested in a brand new soft-release enclosure, deep in the indigenous woodland in the heart of the wildlife reserve and well away from any human contact.
From captivity to the wild
Once a troop is established it’s important to move all of them at the same time. This involves ‘knocking down’ each individual for their health checks including TB screening and de-worming etc., to receive their unique ID ear tags and carefully moving each animal in turn to their new enclosure. Introducing new troops into a habitat which is already home to a number of wild primates can cause conflict as the different troops vie for territory and dominance. This is inevitable, but despite a couple of confrontations our latest troop has been doing well and has even recruited a wild male baboon, Roman, who has taken the troop under his wing. The release team have followed the troop each day to track their progress. It is important that the group can live naturally and free from human interference and the main reason for the tracking is for research purposes. However there have been a few times when the team have been able to avert major disasters in the early days with some choice interventions.
In the meantime you can read more about the team’s experience (a veritable soap opera!) in their blog here
We are now offering the chance to join our primate release team in their field and learn about their tracking an behavioural research. Find out how to become a Primate Release Volunteer
Most of our non-primate releases go to Kuti Wildlife Reserve – it has a varied habitat of grassland, woodland and wetland, rich biodiversity, a lack of predators and a protected status. We also have a volunteer programme based there meaning that help is on hand to manage and monitor releases. In the last year we have released several antelopes and owls there.
In cases where we can be sure of a rescued animal’s provenance we do our best to release them back to their home – such as a serval cat, Kovu, we rehabilitated and released in July 2014.
We have also been involved, alongside Carnivore Research Malawi, in an urban hyaena translocation. Four ‘problem’ hyaenas in Lilongwe were captured and relocated to Liwonde National Park in April 2015, a setting more fitting for their lifestyle. Read more about this project here