The bush is home to Africa’s iconic wild animals. Sadly, wildlife poachers are of increasing grave concern. Even in a sanctuary right outside of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe rescued animals are at risk.
From two tall giraffe to small hedgehogs. From elusive endangered pangolin to the common vervet monkey. From two spotted serval cats to large eyed owls. Baye loves them all, large or small, feathered or furry.
Wild animals come to her injured, orphaned, confiscated or surrendered. At her wildlife rehabilitation center they get healed, nurtured, rehabilitated, and released. Unfortunately, there are some who don’t recover fully, or are simply to habituated (familiar) with humans, and can’t be released back into the wilds. For these animals Baye provides a forever home in her ever growing sanctuary at Free to be Wild.
When we first visited Baye back in 2015 Free to be Wild was situated on six acres. Baye and her right hand man Khumbulane had built numerous enclosures and hide outs for her rescues. At that time they were a young zebra, a handful of vervet monkeys, one or two baboons (the one stole my hat and went running off with it) two bushbabies, three hedgehogs, two lovely owls, a few others I can’t recall, and a tame klipspringer (small antelope) named Klippy.
Over the past six years we’ve helped when we could, with building an enclosure for her first cats. They were two servals surrendered by a mother whose son had gotten them from somewhere as kittens. He was now grown and the two needed a new home. They weren’t in terribly good shape when they arrived at Baye’s center. But, as with all her charges they were nurtured and challenged until ready for release.
Then there was assisting with Khumbulane’s salary. This amazing humble man lives on the property and cares for the wild animals like he does his own children.
Wildlife Poachers posing a threat
Now a new problem has arisen. Until recently the sanctuary was small and nearby, easy to monitor and protect. Today as poverty and poaching have increased professional protection is a must to keep the animals safe from poachers’ snares and pangas.
After consulting with many other wildlife conservationists and anti-poaching experts Baye came to the conclusion that highly trained anti-poaching dogs were the answer. These dogs sniff out poachers and any tracks or traces they leave behind. Back in 2014 we were privileged to see ant-poaching dogs in action. Their handler, without them being present, hid slivers of rhino horn in obscure places. The dog was then released and within seconds was sitting next to the hiding spot. These dogs are trained to sit or lie down and to refrain from barking when they have found their ‘prey’. This of course is not to alert any potential poachers in the area.
Overall, sniffer dogs, or anti-poaching dogs, are extensively used in the fight to stop the poaching of endangered rhino. They’ve proven highly effective in keeping poachers away, or catching them if they are present.
For starters only one expertly trained dog and handler are needed to keep the assorted wildlife at Free to be Wild’s sanctuary protected. Meet Kitapo who is currently in training at Dogs4Wildlife in the UK.
The Cost of Protecting the Wildlife Sanctuary
There are many expenses involved, from paying for the dog, the training, the handler’s wages, housing and food for both, and so on. We at Nikela are thrilled to be invited to participate in funding this venture, It is a privilege to continue to be involved with Baye and her remarkable wildlife rescue work.
To protect the two giraffe and many other species large and small in the sanctuary we committed to sponsoring the trained anti-poaching dog, her name is Kitapo. She is specifically bred to be a tracker and will have spent months in training. So $2500 seems a modest amount for such important work.
Thanks to a spontaneous donor the purchase of the dog is covered. However, your gift to support Baye, and the many animals who owe her their lives, is always welcome… better said, much needed.
Let’s all help!
The Nikela Wildlife Club is collecting monies for transportation, feed, rehab costs and other expenses. To assist with all that goes along with rescuing tall giraffe to small hedgehogs, and the assortment of furry and feathery that come to Baye’s wildlife center. You can even stay involved with a monthly contribution for ongoing support.
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Nikela is a fundraising nonprofit on a mission to help people protecting nature, especially doing wildlife conservation.