Rehabilitating Wildlife in Limpopo Province
A visit to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone with an appreciation for animals. Located at the foot of the Mariepskop Mountain in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, this safe haven for injured, abandoned, poisoned and orphaned wild animals undertakes the challenging task of rehabilitation, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing the animal into its natural habitat wherever possible. With a dedicated team of permanent staff and volunteers, the centre is also involved with breeding programs in an effort to prevent endangered and vulnerable species from becoming extinct.
The Serval Breeding Project at the centre has been carried out for a number of years with success. More than 160 serval have been released back into an area where the population had declined to near extinction. Since the release of these animals, there have been reports of offspring, a sure sign that they have adapted to their surroundings. Moholoholo has also had success in breeding the endangered crowned eagle.
With a view to educating members of the public on the various aspects of conservation, Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre conducts two tours daily from Monday to Saturday at 09:30 and 15:00, with a Sunday tour taking place at 15:00 only during the Limpopo Province school holidays and on long weekends. Groups of more than eight people are requested to make a booking before visiting the centre.
Animals and birds that cannot be returned to the wild due to the extent of their injuries, are used in demonstrations during the tours, and prove to be very worthy ambassadors as they raise awareness of the difficulties facing wildlife, and highlight the impact that humans can have on the welfare of animals – both good and bad. Among these furred and feathered ambassadors are lions rescued from an Egyptian circus, Chui the leopard, Queen the crowned eagle and the cheetahs Jolly and Juba. Visitors to the centre are likely to see leopards, lions, servals, honey badgers, lynx, eagles, vultures, wild dogs and more, as residents arrive and leave in the rehabilitation process.
The volunteer program at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre has been in operation since 1998, and has attracted students from all over the world. Volunteers are an integral part of the rehabilitation of the centre’s resident animals, which can be a challenging, but most definitely rewarding, experience. Volunteers may have the opportunity to hand-raise orphaned animals, or participate in the capture and release of animals being monitored for research purposes, as well as interacting with visitors to the centre and thereby being instrumental in teaching others about the importance of conserving South Africa’s wildlife heritage.