Updated: Jan 27, 2022
With the ever-increasing human population and resulting development, wildlife throughout the world is coming under threat because of conflict with people in the race for space and resources to survive. South Africa is no exception. Indigenous animals are injured and orphaned because of human activities at an ever-increasing rate.
FreeMe Wildlife was founded in 2007 when the need for a trauma and rehabilitation facility for these animals was identified in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. The wildlife centre is situated on a two-hectare property, leased from the Oribi Trust on a 50-year lease in the town of Howick.
The organisation is involved in the public engagement and professional action of capture, rescue, and rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned indigenous wildlife in KwaZulu-Natal. The animals are released back into the wild in areas free from poaching and with reduced human activity.
Experienced staff are employed (together with many varied specialists and volunteers) to run the centre and to provide quality care, which is in the best interest of the animals, no matter how big or small. FreeMe Wildlife has expertise in the care and rehabilitation of a host of indigenous wildlife species and the centre specialises in threatened or protected species (TOPS). The organisation’s main aim is to operate as a world class wildlife rehabilitation facility using the ‘One Health’ approach: linking human, animal, and environmental health. The secondary aim is to inspire an educated and engaging empathy for our wildlife and the environment.
To meet the highest standards, FreeMe Wildlife has engaged in a policy of collaboration and cooperation with numerous conservation, environmental and specialist partners. Many of these partners are specialists in their chosen field of conservation and as such the organisation believes that with this assistance and support, a holistic and professional approach to its work can be achieved.
FreeMe Wildlife currently holds a ‘consulting room’ status and is working towards ‘clinic status’ through the South African Veterinary Council. Part of registering as a clinic means a qualified vet is required on the staff compliment, and consequently, the finances to employ this person. FreeMe Wildlife aims to run various courses in wildlife veterinary fields for students (both local and international), interested in this field. Additionally, the organisation would like to offer an opportunity to CCS vets (Compulsory Community Service of one year after completing a veterinary degree), to work under the guidance of specialist wildlife vets and rehabilitators. The organisation believes that this opportunity will add value to future generations and to our wildlife industry on a professional level.
During 2020 a long-term lease on the development site for FreeMe Wildlife Zululand was secured, as well as donations of materials for the building of the bird of prey recovery section.
How can you get involved?
FreeMe Wildlife is solely reliant on the public for funding and receives no government or local government assistance.
As a public benefit organisation, FreeMe Wildlife does not solicit any fees for the work undertaken at the centre, and is completely reliant on donations from the public, fundraising projects, and trust grants.
A challenge that is often faced is that potential funders are reluctant to grant funds for working costs and prefer ring fencing their grants for capital projects. Although this is understandable, it creates a catch-22 scenario where FreeMe Wildlife has wonderful facilities, but limited funds for staff or general costs.
One solution has been the creation of the Custodianship Programme which is solely aimed at covering running costs. Corporate Custodians (and other Custodians) have become the life blood of the organisation. However, FreeMe Wildlife has been somewhat hampered by the financial constraints the coronavirus has placed on all sectors of the economy.
Not only does Corporate Custodianship empower the organisation to provide the best service and care to the wild patients that are being rehabilitated, but as a Corporate Custodian you will receive certain benefits too:
· Invites to all FreeMe Wildlife Custodian events.
· Discounts on selected merchandise and services.
· Networking with similar minded professionals.
· Free advertising for your business.
· A monthly newsletter.
· A certificate of appreciation.
· A Section 18A Tax Certificate
The same benefits are available through subscribing to the FreeMe Wildlife Green Custodian programme. ‘The Islands of Hope’ concept promotes collaboration to respond to the needs of wildlife and the environment in our own communities. From the child exploring their own back yard to the members creating a new conservancy, an appreciation and protection for wildlife and natural areas is not limited to the confines of big game reserves.
FreeMe Wildlife is confident that with sustainable funding the organisation can achieve its goal of becoming the best wildlife rehabilitation facility in southern Africa as well as be at the forefront of wildlife rehabilitation collaboration globally.
Potential donors and sponsors are welcome to arrange a visit to the centre to appreciate first-hand the work being done and see for themselves why FreeMe Wildlife is considered to be a leader in professional wildlife rehabilitation.
The office is open 24/7 for admittance of animals or callouts.
FreeMe Wildlife Contact Details:
T: +27 (0)33 330 3036
A/H Emergencies: 071 228 9082