Losing a million

by Luke, in Zambia
27th September, 2009

Nick survived the night. No dramas and despite the bed being a foot short, it was very comfortable and I woke up in the zone. Just as well as it was an action packed day. Off to Munda Wanga – a place that used to be a zoo but was taken over by a local crocodile farmer who wanted to set it up as a charity with strong conservation and education programmes. I have to admit being a little skeptical at first, crocodile farming is a far cry from charity and conservation work, but the efforts being made there by the team, particularly Fred – a Dutch ex pat who is running the centre – are impressive. They are very short of money and equipment but are nevertheless working hard on rehabilitation and release programmes – they have released over 300 rescued primates back into the wild. They are also committed to stem the illegal trade in exotic and wild animals and what LAWS do for the puppies and kittens, they are doing for the birds and monkeys.

There is a lot they need at the centre in terns of equipment, advice and support as many of the enclosures are a bit run down, but I sensed this was simply due to lack of funds rather than any apathy on behalf of the management team and it will be good to help them.
I was put to work straight away to remove a rotten tooth from a female baboon. She had been rescued from a man who kept her as a pet and fed her beer and made her smoke cigarettes. There is hope she may get back to the wild but it won’t be easy for her after all that time in captivity. The anaesthetic went well and the tooth came out without too much of a struggle so it was a good start and she’ll feel a lot better. I’ll get my knuckles rapped for not wearing gloves but unfortunately it wasn’t an option and so I just had to get on with it.

We then had to move an eagle owl to a bigger enclosure to rehabilitate it before being released. That was a bit interesting as the centre didn’t have any spare gauntlets so although it was only about 9 months old, I was little nervous as they are carnivorous birds with wickedly sharp beaks and my fingers were definitely potential snacks as I carried it around the centre to where it needed to go, but thankfully no issues and the bird was happily released.

Other big news is that I have now lost a million. Nick repaid me, I then promptly donated the roll of notes to the Zambian community somewhere during the day. Not quite as much fun saying you’ve lost a million. But I making sure everyone knows.

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