Volunteer work with wild animala   Leave a comment

Paying to work with wild animals

Suddenly without warning I was butted in the chest by Sisse a female Kudo. It was a shock but before I could do no more than push its head away it butted me again. This time it knocked me clean off my feet and only good fortune prevented me from landing on anything harder than the ground.

This incident occurred while working as a volunteer at the Bambela Wildlife Centre in South Africa, where I helped clean out cages and feed a variety of animals that had all been rescued from different circumstances. I had been at the centre for around a month before the incident with the Kudo occurred, but from day one it took a dislike to me and always tried to butt me if it got the chance. Silke the German owner and founder of the centre informed me that only one other person had ever had a problem with this animal. The majority of animals at the centre were Velvet Monkeys as Silke loved them more than any other animal and it was her ambition to open an official rescue centre for them. Apart from the velvet monkeys there were various animals including, two Kudo, two Zebra, a Wildebeest, a Wart hog, a Porcupine, Meerkats and a group of Mongeese.

Work started at 8am and went on until around 6pm with a break for lunch around 1pm. Apart from cleaning and feeding the animals we used to think up ideas to make items to put inside the cages to keep the animals amused. The meals served were plentiful and filling, with my accommodation being a self contained room with its own bathroom. Although this was volunteer work you paid a donation that went towards the cost of feeding and care of the animals at the centre. As like most animal centers they received no grants from the government to offset the cost of paying the permanent members of staff or the cost of food and medical care for the animals.

At the time apart from me there was only one other volunteer there, a young German lady named Ingrid who had been given a baby velvet monkey to look after 24/7. At night it had a nappy fitted to it as it slept with her in her bed. The work was not hard except when John the field guide and I were tasked to clean out the duck pond. This was not only hard work but was a extremely dirty job, but one that had to be done. At one time while keeping an eye on three young monkeys that were allowed out of there enclosure during the day, I noticed that they were playing with a piece of electrical cable. As this wire was a potential hazard to them, I grabbed it off them at the first opportunity. They showed there displeasure at my action by suddenly swinging down and attacking me and biting my hand. Although they were only babies their teeth were quite sharp and drew blood from my hand. Apart from cleaning and feeding the animals once Silke & Rodney her manager partner knew I could do odd jobs without supervision, I was asked to repair various broken items. When after 6 weeks it was time for me to leave they asked if I could stay on longer, but unfortunately this was not possible. It was not until several months later that I discovered that they had written a very good reference for me on the back of my account billing.

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Posted 13/02/2011 by Tigerman

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