With the generous help of the Principal’s Go Abroad fund, I was able to complete a veterinary internship at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi (LWC) this summer. It has been a dream of mine to work with wildlife in Africa and I am so happy that I was able to fulfil it this summer.
LWC is not only a wildlife rehabilitation centre but also a sanctuary for animals that are unable to be released back into the wild. The centre is home to numerous troops of Vervet monkeys, Yellow Baboons, and Olive Baboons, as well as some Spotted Eagle Owls, crocodiles, and a very old Ball Python.
My internship was with two other veterinary students under the direction of the only vet qualified for wildlife capture in Malawi. Our main goal for the 3 weeks was to complete the health checks on the next troop ready for re-released. This includes capturing a monkey, sedating it, preforming a physical exam, placing identification tags, administering routine vaccinations and preventatives and finally TB testing, all before it wakes up. Having never had the opportunity to work with primates before, I learned so much and was able to gain confidence in new areas of vet med.
Beyond our goal of health checks, we also were responsible for the active cases at the centre as well as any emergencies that might arrive. This included a Monitor Lizard who was being stoned by the public, a Spotted Eagle Owl with neurological issues and, my favourite, two orphaned Serval kittens.
This was my first trip to Africa, and though I had some hesitations going into it, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Not only did I gain so many skills and knowledge working at the centre, but I also met some truly wonderful people and had some incredible adventures. I have met friends and colleagues from all over the world who I hope to work with in future. I kayaked and snorkelled in Lake Malawi; watched numerous African sunsets and sunrises, and gazed at the Milky Way. We studied elephant behaviour as they walked through our campsite, released genets back into the reserve, and learned how to cook local food over a campfire. Overall it was an amazing experience that will leave me with memories to treasure for years to come and a drive to get back out there to help continue some of the important conservation work being done all around Sub-Saharan Africa.