Rescue and Rehabilitation Program

VFWT works to conserve all wildlife. In cases in which wildlife has been injured or orphaned due to human interference VFWT will assist in looking after that animal. Wildlife that has become ill due to poisoning, poaching or some form of human impact, VFWT will take into its rescue program until such a time as that animal is rehabilitated enough to survive on its own in its natural habitat. If an animal has injuries due to poaching and needs veterinary care beyond what we can provide in the field, then we will look after it at our rehabilitation center until it is recovered and can be released. In 2016 we opened our doors to the new clinical facility for the cases that need veterinary treatment. This facility is situated in the Monde rural community and also serves as the Victoria Falls Animal Health and Welfare Centre for the people of that community.

It is always our goal to release animals back into the wild where they belong. In some cases where the animal can't be released due to the extent of having permanent injuries or deformities, or the nature of the species, we will look after those animals for the duration of their life.

Here are a few of the cases we have worked on over the years

 

 

 

 


 

Wilma the Warthog

 

Chizi

 

Dodji

Sylvester the Cheetah

As the only survivor of five cubs when he was orphaned, Sylvester's life has been an uphill struggle from the day he was born. Hand raised by Norman and Penny English, Sylvester managed to overcome many hurdles and he beat the odds and has survived. Sylvester is with the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust as an ambassador cat for our conservation education program, and helps to teach people about the plight of cheetah as as species. More

 

Judge

Judge is a white backed vulture who arrived in late December 2013 as a very ill bird with a deformed wing. He can never be released due to his wing and inability to fly. However, Judge is a charismatic animal and enjoys the company of people. Therefore he is currently in training to become an educational ambassador. Vulture populations are being decimated with the increase in commercial poaching using poison, and urban development. For more information on Judge and our work with vulture conservation please click here!

 

Aardy the Aardwolf

Working together with the Wildlife Authority and Camp Hwange, Roger Parry was called to assess an injured aardwolf found alongside the road. Roger was able to diagnose that the little aardwolf had paralysis in its back legs likely due to being hit by a vehicle. After further assessment by a wildlife veterinarian, it was determined the young animal had a good chance of recovery as it had no structural damage. The Wildlife Authority made the decision to allow VFWT to continue caring for the young aardwolf, dubbed “Aardy”. With assistance from Camp Hwange, Aardy was transported to the VFWT rehabilitation center. Shortly after his move to VFWT, Aardy began to regain use of his left leg. Being nocturnal, Aardy’s routine is to sleep most of the day, get up in evening for a supplemental feed, have a nap and then go out foraging with his team from 9pm-3am before coming back to his enclosure for additional supplemental feed. Over time Aardy was able to regain full use of his back legs and successfully feed himself on termites. Aardy was released and now roams freely back in the wild. Aardwolf are indigenous to this area and have been sighted on the property. After Aardy's release he was seen a few months later by local professional guides.


Warthogs

Two tiny warthog piglets were found wandering around the golf course of Elephant Hills Resort, just outside the town of Victoria Falls. The piglets were but a few days old, with their mother nowhere to be seen. Temperatures skyrocket during the hot months here, and the piglets were unable to go very long without milk. These two warthogs were taken in together by a VFWT volunteer and would grow to be boisterous young pigs that with constant feeding and care were able to be released six months after they were found. After only 48 hours of being released these warthogs made their own way into the bush and were successfully on their own. They initially stayed near the main areas that were frequented by people and then within a few weeks they were freely roaming further afield.

The following year another piglet was found squealing away in early October and very dehydrated. Despite attempts to locate its mother, none of the resident female warthogs had could be found to have recently given birth that early. VFWT were asked by the local wildlife authorities to look after the little piglet that would soon become "Miss.Piggy" As with the previous warthogs, Miss. Piggy initially required high care due to her young age. With time, she became less dependent on the milk formula and was slowly able to feed on her own. Once Miss. Piggy was weaned she too was released. Initially we thought Miss Piggy would also stay nearby for a short time before moving out into the bush. Despite all our attempts to return Miss Piggy to the wild, she preferred to stay near people, often showing to eat up any left over game cubes. Miss Piggy matured into a full grown female warthog and gave birth to a young male warthog. She subsequently had another litter of piglets before returning to the wild.

VFWT have also taken in warthogs that have had partial amputation of their back leg due to snare poaching. With time these animals are able to recover if they are not fully grown. Once they are able to adapt to the three legs for balance they are able to survive and all animals have been released back into the wild.

 

Elephant Orphans

Elephant are an iconic species that are facing challenging times ahead due to the increase in poaching of this amazing species. VFWT have raised many elephant over the years and have established a special release herd specifically for the elephant orphans that are taken in. The release herd mimics that of a natural elephant herd in terms of social structure and hierarchy with a female matriarch and siblings of different ages. Elephant that come in for rehabilitation have very specific diets and requirements depending on their age. The younger the animal the higher the risks as we supplement their normal milk with a formula and try and form social bonds with other elephant to help with their stressful move from the wild. Elephant are one species that must be released as a socially bonded herd. Therefore any animals that come in for long-term care are integrated with the release herd on the property. For more information about elephant rehabilitation and some of the animals that have been raised please Click Here

 

Other Species

Over the years that VFWT has been operating, wildlife rehabilitation as been an integral part of the Trust's conservation work. Many different species of mammals and birds have been taken in and cared for. Species include everything from bush babies to buffalo to marabou storks and mongoose. We firmly believe in the rehabilitation and release of these animals. Some species are much easier to release once they have recovered, especially those that are solitary in their social structure in the wild. Other animals are much more challenging and need constant monitoring post release to evaluate their long-term survival and social integration back into their wild herds or groupings. For those animals that need monitoring post-release, technology plays a vital role with the advances in collars and tracking units that interact with satellites and radio frequencies to be able to watch the spatial movements of these animals after they are back in the wild. We thank all of you that have helped contribute to the care of the many animals we have looked after and released back into the wild.