Meeting dedicated wildlife conservationists like Roz with FreeMeKZN is one of the things we enjoy most as we travel in Africa, podcast.
“You must go see Roz,” Bruce my mother’s financial advisor told us. Now, every time we are in the area we stop by the FreeMeKZN wildlife rescue and rehab center.
We are never disappointed…
Key #NikelaAfrica into the Search bar for stories, videos and podcasts.
A Glimpse into a Rescue Rehab Center FreeMeKZN
A group of 25 6th graders and their teachers are in the semi dark rondaval as we walk in. Roz, the Director of FreeMeKZN is just starting her presentation.
She shows them photos of Serval, a young Reedbuck, half grown Wildebeest and even a rescued Porcupine. With great love she talks about each and how they came to be at the center. Most were found by a caring human who called FreeMeKZN. Some were orphaned, others injured and still others like the Egyptian Goose raised as a pet.
A photo of a beautiful Raptor flashes on the screen. These don’t stay at FreeMeKZN Roz tells the students, they get sent down to Ben at Raptor Rescue who puts about 200 of these birds of prey back together every year. Most get released if they heal well, some are well enough to go to breeding programs, while still others stay at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary.
Now Roz gets really serious. With the slide of the Raptor still up she tells the students why these beauties are in trouble and how each one of them can help protect them. Rat poison! Rat poison is a huge killer of these birds. Farmers don’t want the rats around so they put out poison. In turn the rats crawl away to die and the Raptors eat them. Supposedly there are effective alternative poisons and Roz implores the students to have their parents be sure to use it.
After Roz one of the FreeMeKZN staff, Israel chats with the students about snakes. Did you know that the sluggish Puff Adder is the cause of the most snake bite deaths in South Africa? This back fanged adder, unlike most other snakes, doesn’t move so humans are at risk of stepping on them or too close to them. Israel shows a sequence of slides of how a Rock Python gets herself electrocuted by an electrified fence she slid under and then struck at when she got zapped. Her fangs got caught on the wires and she fried.
After the students leave Roz walks us around the compound. The boma that was being built at the time of our last visit is now complete and the temporary home of Grey Duiker on one side and two endangered Blue Duiker on the other. I’d never seen a Blue Duiker before, they are tiny, not much bigger than a Beagle (dog) and quite shy. Duiker, unlike Blesbok, don’t habituate to humans and are therefore easier to release once healed. All seven of the Duiker are ready to go and just waiting on the local authorities to name and approve the release location.
We walk past the enclosure where a young Blesbok and Wildebeest obviously have become friends. Roz says putting animals that have been hand reared of varying species together helps them socialize with animals instead of humans. Although both these two youngsters can’t be released into a truly wild situation, they are slotted to go to a conservancy where others like them coexist with home owners. There was a time I disliked such conservancies because it seemed unnatural, however, there may come a time where these large parcels of land where people who care about wildlife and build houses in the bush may be one of wildlife’s last semi wild refuges.
After making a donation to the care of the animals Roz takes us to the clinic, the Babies Room where three small buck, new arrivals are getting acclimatized before seeing the vet. The pretty young Nyala was found orphaned. Unfortunately, before FreeMeKZN staff arrived the dogs chased the young buck, it ran into a wall and broke its jaw. Because it can still drink from a bottle and because of her trust in their vet Roz is hopeful the youngster will make a full recovery.
As always Russ and I leave the center feeling both sad yet inspired. Sad to witness and hear the stories about the current center residences, yet inspired by the dedication and passion of people like Roz, Israel and the staff who care and relentlessly do whatever it takes to make a difference.