FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Located in Johannesburg, the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was founded in 1997 to care for suburban indigenous wildlife in distress. FreeMe offers a service that most veterinarians do not have the facilities for – caring for the hundreds of suburban birds, reptiles and mammals that suffer injury, get ill or become orphans. With the motto of ‘rescue, rehabilitate and release’, the dedicated workers of FreeMe aim to return their patients to the wild wherever possible.
The centre is open every day of the year between 8am and 5pm for members of the public either to bring in wild animals in need of assistance or to notify FreeMe of wild animals in distress – and all indigenous wildlife is accepted and given specialised care. In addition to the centre’s permanent staff, volunteers are trained to care for the rescued animals and have the opportunity of learning from experts in various fields, as FreeMe networks with other rehabilitation-type organisations to share knowledge and skills.
With the belief that ‘there is no conservation without education’, FreeMe uses educational programs, newsletters and advice, encouraging members of the public to adopt a responsible attitude toward the environment and the wildlife that depends upon it. The centre’s quarterly magazine Free Me has a ‘Kid’s Talk’ section aimed at educating children and entertaining them at the same time, and FreeMe also participates in the Eco Solutions School Owl Box Project where owl boxes are set up at various schools -an activity which is reportedly proving to be a great success. The latest edition of FreeMe’s magazine, Summer 2013, has a host of interesting articles to enjoy, including fascinating facts on dung beetles, the challenge of raising orphaned mammals, experiences of volunteers and the accounts of the release into the wild of a spotted eagle-owl and black-footed cat, among others.
Operating as a non-profit organization, the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre relies on donations, membership fees, sponsorships and the services of volunteers to continue its life-saving work. The centre has been granted an Open Permit from the Gauteng Department of Nature Conservation signifying that it holds to the highest standards.