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Dear Volunteer,Thank you for your enquiry.In this pack you will find information regarding the award winning Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, our volunteer programmeand loads of other useful snippets regarding travelling and staying in Malawi.The volunteer programme is incredibly important to the centre, the animals it rehabilitates and the local communitiesthat surround it. You can rest assured that your placement fee will be used to benefit the animals and communities andwill not be tied up in administration costs. Your contribution also helps to eventually return those unfortunate animalorphans back to the wild.The centre has achieved a great deal to date with the donations made by the volunteers and the physical work that theyhave undertaken whilst in Malawi. I hope you too can join us and help make a real difference to the people and wildlifeof Malawi!Please read the contents of this book carefully, if you have any questions or comments on the handbook please don’thesitate to get in contact with us.We look forward to welcoming you to Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, as part of the team.Kindest regards,JerrineVolunteer and Project Manager
History and MissionMalawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, both for its stunning beauty and friendly people. It’s also one of the mostdensely populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world, which puts enormous pressures onits natural resources. As a result, the illegal trade of wild animals and their slaughter for bush meat is still a big problemin Malawi, at a time when conservation of both the environment is more critical than ever.Lilongwe Wildlife Centre was set up in 2007 as a People and Wildlife Centre, the first of its kind in the world, taking overa 120 hectare wilderness area right in the heart of Malawi’s capital city. Not only is it the sole wildlife sanctuary fororphaned and rescued wild animals in Malawi it is also a centre for the people, operating extensive community outreachand education programmes. We believe we can make a real difference working with the local communities in terms ofraising awareness of the importance of respecting our environment and keeping wildlife in the wild, whilst alsoproviding alternatives to practices such as deforestation and the illegal bush meat trade.There have been some fantastic achievements at the centre within the last few years – there’s the rescue andrehabilitation of hundreds of animals from appalling conditions, such as Bella the lioness, rescued from a tiny cage in azoo. The sale of wild animals on the side of the roads in Lilongwe has now been eradicated thanks to local campaigning.The PAW (People and Wildlife) clubs in the poorest communities are fully supported by the chiefs and officials, withwhom we have developed various income generation projects and we even have support from the United NationsDevelopment Programme and City Assembly for our city wide afforestation project.As a ‘People and Wildlife’ project we hope that our success will be used as a model for others around the world. In yearsto come we will be able to showcase the benefits of addressing conservation issues in partnership with the localcommunities through education and outreach, and become a true centre for the people and wildlife of Malawi.Our work was recently recognised when we were awarded the Virgin Holidays 2011 Responsible Tourism Award for‘Best for Conservation of Wildlife and Habitats’, with the judges saying “Fending off developers, the centre hasreclaimed and revived 90 hectares of urban wilderness to provide sanctuary for rescued, orphaned and injured wildanimals, and promotes conservation to locals and tourists alike. It now takes over 20,000 visitors per year, showing itsvalue as a centre for both the people and wildlife of Malawi." Supported by the BBC and the Geographical Society theawards are the only one of their kind in the world.
Wildlife Rescue SanctuaryThe wildlife centre offers sanctuary to, on average, 250 wild animals. This includes a number of carnivores, severalspecies of primates, reptiles, antelopes, birds and smaller mammals. Many of these were rescued as orphans being soldon the road side as pets, from the bush-meat trade or from poacher’s snares.Some of our residents were rescued from horrendous conditions from zoos as adults, such as Sheila the crocodile,Kambuku the leopard, Henry the Python and Shadow the hyena and whilst due to injuries they can never be releasedinto the wild they will live out their days in huge enclosures at the centre.We work closely with government and private reserves to ensure that our animals that can be released do so into themost suitable habitats. Some rescued animals, if they are fit and healthy, are released straight away, either at our sistersite Kuti Wildlife Park or our own wilderness reserve. Others, such as the primates with their complicated socialstructures, require lengthier rehabilitations that can take years. Since 2007 we have completed two large scale primaterelease programmes and we are preparing for another big release at the end of 2012.Wilderness ReserveThe centre is also home to a 90 hectare protected wilderness reserve, offering an urban haven for many rare and unusualspecies. It offers fantastic biodiversity with animals such as hyena, porcupine, crocodile, vervet monkeys, bush pig, genet,antelope and bush baby, numerous insect and over 250 bird species. Along with amazing examples of hardwood trees andeven rare orchids it is one of the last areas of acacia cambretum forest in Malawi. 6 km of trails have been cut offering avariety of walks for visitors and there are several picnic spots perfect for enjoying the river or bird watching.Top visitor destinationAs a ‘centre for the people’ the wildlife centre is also one the countries top visitor destinations, and as a not-for-profitorganisation all the revenue generated goes into helping to support the work we do. We welcome a range of visitors frominternational tourists to local residents and schools. To ensure that our prices are affordable for everyone, we subsidizepayments for those from the poorest communities, with school children paying as little as 12p entry. We offer tours of oursanctuary zone, where trained local tour guides have the opportunity to teach visitors more about our rescued animalsand also about conservation in the country in general. Guests can enjoy our huge adventure playground, a restaurant andbar, our gift shop (stocked with products made sustainably by local communities), a dedicated learning centre witheducational displays and the countries first outdoor amphitheatre, an exciting new venue for hosting cultural events.
Education ProgrammesWe believe that educating the children of Malawi is key to the preservation of wildlife and habitats, therefore ourextensive education projects are crucial in our mission to offer a long term commitment to conservation. On average thewildlife centre receives over 10,000 Malawian school children a year, most of whom would never get the opportunity tovisit their own national parks, so seeing our animals, such as Bella the lioness, has a lasting impact on them. Ourstructured education modules have been developed in line with the local curriculum and we teach them on a range ofissues from deforestation, waste management to climate change. By encouraging participation, changing attitudes andpromoting a passion for wildlife and its conservation we believe we can make a real difference.Community OutreachOur community outreach programme goes a lot further than wildlife conservation. We work with our local communitiesto help address the problems they face. In the last year, this has included planting 10,000 trees, cleaning up the river andour adult literacy programmes. We also fund various income generating schemes that help to promote conservation in asustainable manner and develop the skills of local people. These include our Baobab Juice production enterprise and thecreation of bio briquettes, an eco-friendly alternative to charcoal, one of the main causes of deforestation. These enablelocal communities to earn a living for themselves and their villages whilst doing so in a manner that is helping toconserve the local environment.The TeamWe are proud to have a passionate team that works tirelessly under very challenging circumstances to make the projecta success. In line with our commitment to providing opportunities for the surrounding communities the centre employsover 40 dedicated local staff, many of whom have been working with us since the beginning and are now veryexperienced in their field. In addition to our local staff the centre also employs a management team that includes highlyqualified international wildlife and education professionals who have worked all over the world and have an impressiverepertoire of skills. International volunteers like you are also crucial to the smooth running of the project in terms ofhard work, new ideas and skills transfer.So for anyone looking to explore a career in conservation this is a unique opportunity to share knowledge and workalongside our experts to gain experience in a range of disciplines.
The Volunteer Programme By volunteering, we hope that you will be happy to muck in with all sorts of projects. However, this is certainly a place where acting on your own initiative is really valued, so let us know if you see something whilst you are here where you think you could have an impact and best use your experience. Work will be very much dependent on what projects are going on at the time. Here’s a flavour of some of the tasks you could take on:• Assistant animal carer: Work alongside our local Malawian animal carers to offer our animals the best possible care that they deserve...cleaning, feeding, hand rearing baby orphans and providing enrichment to those that need it. We have split animal care into three departments: primates and antelopes; carnivores; quarantine and orphan care clinic.• Rehabilitation and release assistant: Working alongside our animal care manager help to rehabilitate rescued animals and settle them into new groups. If you are lucky you may be at the centre when we are performing a release into the wild. If so there might be the chance to help, whether that is in the centre’s own wilderness reserve or at Kuti Wildlife Park, our main release site just an hour from Lilongwe.• Vet assistant: As a large wildlife centre our animals do on occasion require veterinary work. Therefore you may get the opportunity to shadow our vet and help on tasks such as full health checks on all new arrivals, performing regular vaccinations and check-ups on all the animals or help with emergency operations.• Conservation and Ecology: If you’re interested in conservation management or ecological research, we have several ecological surveys, mammal censuses and habitat management work to implement.• Education: Develop modules or conservation based activities for children, then help us deliver these at the centre or in schools. Or work on our Wild Kidz holiday camps, run by volunteers and always a lot of fun.• Community outreach: The wildlife centre has a number of community projects happening at any one time. Such as our Adult Literacy classes, our UNDP funded ‘Green and Clean’ scheme or the production of Baobab Juice. By participating in our community programmes you will have the opportunity to visit the rural areas of Lilongwe and work with some of the poorest communities.• Eco-tourism: As a sanctuary not only for the people of Malawi but also for international visitors Eco-tourism plays a key role at the centre. There are many things you can do to help improve the visitor experience such as helping us to maintain or develop our wilderness reserve, improving tours or assisting as a tour guide, basic construction and maintenance around the centre, helping us run the bar, creating information boards or working on improving our gift shop which is stocked with products made by local communities.• Marketing and Events: Anyone with experience in website design, pr, events, photography or documentary making would be very welcome. With the build of our amphitheatre there have been school plays, film nights, cultural dance performances and we hosted the opening ceremony of World Tourism Week, attended by the Minister of Tourism and local press. For placements of one month or less the amount of tasks you can get involved in will be limited. It takes time to learn the ropes so we prefer that those on shorter placements concentrate their time in just a few departments. This can be decided on arrival in relation to what is happening at the centre and the tasks you would like to do. For those working in animal care you will rotate departments on a weekly basis, therefore we recommend a minimum 3 week stay if you would like to experience each area. For testimonials please refer to our website: www.lilongwewildlife.org/#Volunteerblog
Who can volunteer?We welcome volunteers of all nationalities and ages, the minimum age to join us is 18 but there is no maximum, theoldest was 72! Whilst skills and past experiences are very helpful really it is those with a genuine passion forconservation and the right attitude that make the biggest mark. We expect volunteers to have a good work ethic andbe prepared to roll up their sleeves and muck in where they are needed, this is very much so a working placement asopposed to a holiday. It those with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude that get the most out of their experience andwho get to go home with the greatest sense of achievement. As we are in one of the poorest countries in the worldwe are working under very challenging circumstances, so you also need to be flexible - as a busy wildlife rescue centrewe tell our volunteers to expect the unexpected as you never know what surprises are going to be thrown our way!The wildlife centre is still at the beginning of a very long journey and we have a long way to go in our mission. So joinus and make a real difference to the future of Malawi. In exchange you will have the opportunity to be part ofsomething very special, have the experience of a life time and take home memories and friendships that will stay withyou forever.Animal welfareThe wildlife centre works with a number of animal rights organisations to ensure that our policies are in line withinternational welfare standards. Therefore our enclosures have been built according to the standards of animal rightsorganisations and in most cases exceed the recommended amount of space required. We are not a zoo: our priority isto ensure that our animals are given as natural an environment as possible, that they are able to retreat from humanpresence and that they are released where possible and not retained for the visitor experience.Because we take animal welfare very seriously (and for your safety, it is worth remembering that they are wild andvery dangerous!) we have a strict no-contact policy with our animals. This is very important as if we hope to releasethese animals into the wild then their natural behaviour must be kept as intact as possible. The only exception to thisis if you are bottle feeding an orphan or working alongside the vet.Food and AccommodationEver fancied waking up to the sound of a lion roaring or be able to see monkeys play from your bedroom window? Inour volunteer accommodation you can! Volunteers stay together at our Volunteer House, which is within the heart ofthe wildlife centre and surrounded by our animals. This allows you to be close to the action and, along with thebenefits of being within the centre of a capital city, a chance to experience the wild side of Africa. The programme islimited to a maximum of 12 volunteers at any one time.The House has basic dorm-style mixed accommodation with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hotshowers. We also have a generous and attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off.Wireless internet is available at the centre free of charge. All meals are served by our local cook, who does his best toprovide international meals along with some local Malawian dishes (that he is more than happy to show you how tomake!). We cater for vegans and those with allergies. If you prefer to eat out there are many good restaurants just ashort drive away and our wildlife centre restaurant serves fantastic lunches! Please remember that this is one of thepoorest countries in the world so facilities are basic and ingredients can be hard to get hold of.From June 2012 there will be a private en-suite chalet on site available for a small supplement, more details onrequest.
Working HoursWe work 6 days a week, from 8 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. There is one day off a week, but, at the discretion of themanagement, it is possible to take off more or less time, dependent on emergencies and what projects you have goingon. Volunteers who work longer than a month will also be given a long weekend off every 4 weeks. We operate as anemergency wild animal rescue facility and, as such, we need volunteers to be flexible with their working hours and toexpect a few long days and perhaps even some night shifts if an injured orphaned animal needs round the clock care.When is a good time to come?Any time! Lilongwe has a temperate climate for Africa. Wet season is from December to March, but it is actually quitenice as the rains last only an hour or so plus it makes the country lush and green! It reaches around 32 degrees in thehot months of October and November, and the coolest month is July, at around 25 degrees but still bright and sunny.Health and SafetyWe take health and safety very seriously at the centre and have several detailed policies and procedures in place tohelp ensure that your stay with us is as injury/illness free as we could make it. If you decide to proceed with theplacement you will receive a detailed information pack that includes sections on how to identify hazards and managethe associated risks, including information on health issues and working with animals. You need to start thinking aboutvaccinations several weeks and sometimes months in advance, so we advise you visit your doctor and start planningnow. We require that all volunteers are covered for rabies, TB and that they also have a screen for TB (preferably achest x-ray). And do not panic, Malawi is not called the “warm heart of Africa” for nothing!Free TimeBy African standards, Lilongwe is a safe, clean and relatively quiet city with just the right amount of nightlife, which wewill be more than happy to introduce you to! The wildlife centre is a great place for socialising in the evenings and onyour day off. You can grab a drink at the bar, enjoy a picnic in the wilderness trails or as a volunteer you have access tothe wildlife sanctuary for the occasional night safari to see the nocturnal animals come to life. There are craft and foodmarkets within walking distance, where you can browse the stalls for souvenirs and practice your haggling.If you have enough time we would also recommend a trip to the Lake or a safari, Malawi is a fantastic country and stilluntouched by tourism. Perhaps you would consider a safari to South Luangwa in nearby Zambia , one of the bestwildlife reserves in the whole of Africa. Lilongwe Wildlife volunteers are entitled to a discount with an excellent localsafari operator, and we arrange regular departures for a 4 day experience, which many volunteers take on their longweekend off or after their stay. Please click here for details.
Getting HereThe wildlife centre is based in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, a short 25 minute drive from theLilongwe International Airport, the main airport. Lilongwe is a great base for exploring the rest of the country with thefamous Lake Malawi less than a 2 hour drive away.You can book your flight easily through online flight searches, with travel agents or directly with the airline. If you arecoming from the UK, or even through Heathrow airport from some other destination, then the following airlines fly toMalawi. South African Airways (via Johannesburg), Kenyan Airways (via Nairobi ), Ethiopian Airways (via Addis Ababa)We will arrange all your airport transfers in Lilongwe. If you are travelling overland or from elsewhere let us know andwe can let you know the best way to get here. If possible, it’s best if you can start and end your placement on aTuesday.On arrival British, Australian, Canadian or American Nationals and visitors from most EU countries are issued a free 30day tourist visa; subsequent monthly visas cost roughly £20. Please check your own requirements with your embassy. Kuti Wildlife ParkWe are pleased to announce that from May 2012 you are able to spend part of your placement at Kuti CommunityWildlife Park. Kuti is a stunning 2000 hectare reserve located an hour from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and near toLake Malawi. Home to a huge variety of free roaming wildlife with big mammals like giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, sable,kudu, warthog and impala, along with many primates, it is also a unique project that showcases how conservation canbenefit the local people. Due to its protected habitat and it’s commitment to the people Kuti was chosen by theLilongwe Wildlife Centre as the perfect site to release many of its animals.This is a fantastic opportunity to spend time working in true African bush, working alongside animals in their naturalenvironment and experiencing the wilderness of Malawi. You will help develop this exciting new park and take part intasks such as game counts, large mammal censuses, anti poaching patrols and community development. As there areno predators it is safe for walking and cycling safaris, and volunteers can enjoy stunning sunsets overlooking Kuti’sprivate lake, a haven for birds. This experience is available for anyone visiting us for 3 weeks or more. Please click herefor details.
Costs and Bookings All of the money raised through our volunteering programme goes directly into the wildlife centre and is not tied up in administrative costs. With this we are able to provide food and essential medical care for the animals, as well as improving and implementing our rescue and rehabilitation projects to ensure their survival not only within the centre but also when they are released back into the wild. It also supports our education and community projects which are essential for the future of conservation in Malawi. As well as all this your donation allows us to provide employment for over 40 members of local staff. What’s included:• Accommodation• All meals and unlimited tea, coffee and juice• Your initial 30 day Visa is free on arrival• Transfers to and from the airport and all work related transport• Free wireless internet• Free t-shirt and local phone sim-card• Orientation and training in all relevant departments• Full support and assistance from the Volunteer Manager throughout your stay 2012 rates Weeks 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Cost (£) 850 1,100 1,385 1,595 1,785 1,970 2,135 2,295 2,440 2,570 2,695 Rates for longer placements available on request (For those wanting to spend time at Kuti Wildlife Park please note that there is a £50 supplement per week for this) We cannot guarantee your place until a £200 holding deposit is paid. A final deposit is due 2 months prior to arrival and then the rest needs to be paid in cash when you arrive. What’s not included?• Flights• Vaccinations• Travel and medical insurance• Visas for placements longer than 30 days (roughly £20 for each additional 30 day period)• Additional excursions, nights out, souvenirs and personal expenses such as soft drinks, beers and snacks We recommend bringing out a little extra to spend on drinks, meals out and souvenirs. £15 - £20 a week should more than cover these, depending on your lifestyle. As an idea of costs for extra trips, you will need about £60-£150 if you want to take a trip to Lake Malawi, dependent on accommodation and activities; while a 4 day safari to Zambia would be around £320.
Project Highlights• Work alongside our animal carers taking care of over 250 carnivores, primates, mammals, reptiles and many other rescued animals and help with all aspects of animal care.• Learn more about rehabilitation and conservation in the countries only wildlife rescue centre and work alongside international wildlife experts.• The opportunity to shadow our wildlife vet with health checks, operations, darting animals and treating injuries.• Offering surrogacy care to rescued orphans, bottle feeding, cleaning, medicating and offering 24hr support until they enter the next phase of rehabilitation and can join their own kind.• Help us to release animals back into the wild where they belong. We have many smaller releases that are ongoing as well as our large primate release programmes.• Get creative with our ongoing Enrichment programme constructing items to keep our animals happy, healthy and entertained, this ranges from scented trails to more elaborate ‘toys’ for Bella the lioness.• Enjoy a night safari to see the nocturnal animals come to life. Search for elusive porcupines and bush babies and listen out for the call of whooping hyenas.• Take part in maintaining and improving our Wilderness Reserve. Enjoy riverside picnics by the waterfall or early morning bird walks looking out for the Hammerkop bird and their impressive nests.• Join us on our community outreach projects and find out why Malawi is called the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’• Have fun with our extensive education programmes and enrich the lives of hundreds of school children whilst helping to generate enthusiasm for conservation.• Spend time at our sister project Kuti Wildlfe Park. Experience living in the African bush and take part in game counts, bike safaris and anti-poaching patrols. Eat out under the stars and enjoy sharing stories around the camp fire.• Lilongwe is a fantastic base for exploring Malawi and many top visitor destinations can be reached on a weekend break, such as the stunning ‘Lake of Stars’ just an hour away or climbing Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s highest mountain.• Volunteers have the added option of going on a big game safari at South Luangwa, Zambia, one of the world’s top safari destinations. We have a very special deal with an excellent local operator.
What next?Want to join us?If you have any further questions then please contact us. If you decide that you want to volunteer over in the ‘WarmHeart of Africa’, this is what you need to do:1. Return the attached questionnaire to email@example.com. We will be in touch to let you know if you have been accepted and if so how to pay your deposit.3. Once you have received confirmation that your £200 holding deposit has been received we will send you the full information pack with all the necessary forms and additional information to get ready for your stay with us! Many thanks and we hope to welcome you to the team!However if you can’t make it out to Malawi then there are plenty of other ways that you can show your support forthe work we do…Make a donationAny amount will be gratefully appreciated and not tied up in administration costs www.lilongwewildlife.org/#DonateAdopt an AnimalSponsor an animal and your donation will help cover their food, care and vet bills. We will send you an adoption pack,certificate and regular updates on their progress, it makes a great gift! www.lilongwewildlife.org/#AdoptananimalFollow usFor further details on what we are up to, and to show your support please click on the following links:Facebook: www.facebook.com/lilongwewildlifecentre don’t forget to ‘like’ the page!YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/lilongwewildlifeTwitter: www.twitter.com/wildlifecentreBlog: www.bornfree.wildlifedirect.org/category/lilongwe-wildlife-centreFor those with a little more time on their hands you may want to consider our ‘virtual volunteering’ programme. Moredetails on request.