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Help rehabilitate wildlife in Zimbabwe

Written by Milly Whitehead on 08 / 07 / 2021

Gap Year Advice

As you know Leap VIP is a travel resource to help you navigate the world of travel through a pandemic but more importantly it gives you access to our network of amazing people and projects around the world - putting you in contact with them directly.

Today we want you to meet the lovely Baye who is the heart and brains behind a wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe - this is her story...

From humble beginnings

Baye was awarded the ‘Unsung Conservation Hero’s Award 2016’ by Africa Geographic, for her rehabilitation centre for primates and other wildlife species.

She established the center in 2014, after she was unable to find a release centre for a baby baboon, she rescued. From humble beginnings, to what is now a recognised force, in the conservation world, the sanctuary is dedicated to taking in any wildlife species in need of a home, love and attention. With an impressive record of releasing the animals in her care back into their natural habitats, Baye has taken the wildlife rescue industry by storm. It’s not an easy job, but her life is anything but ordinary.

A typical day for Baye

Stepping out the back door it’s hard not to feel like Snow White and my menagerie of animals following me through the woods, but then again this is Africa and as Zimmi the baby zebra latches onto my hand I am suddenly reminded how utterly insane our 13 rescued baboons would go shall I dare to wear a dress at the sanctuary, it’s taken a few years to art the profession of being a human tree to all 13 of the baboons when they take us on their daily enrichment walks through the bush! My clothes are always stretched 2 sizes bigger as the babies often like to play hide and seek under my shirts. So far, I have had 5 of them assume they were secretly hidden under there, of course all at once!

But before the antics of the bush walk begins we have to do the routine morning feed, checking on all the residents and making sure they had a good night, I walk past Terry the one winged lappet faced vulture who roams the sanctuary, he really is not a mornings kind of guy, slyly he looks the other way knowing it’s not his turn for breakfast yet, we have to save him for last because of course, he only wants to be hand fed, but then again why not take full advantage of this hotel service!

Fed and health checks done, time to grab some breakfast, sometimes I am lucky enough to find fruitful snack out the back of Khumbus vehicle as he returns from the market with fruit and veg for the primates.

There is nothing quite like going on a bush walk when you live in the bush and that’s what you do all day. I haven’t quite understood it yet but Richmond and Zimmi the zebra seems to never miss out on one, passing the resident giraffe, kudu and impala who live freely on the sanctuary life is about to get wild, from having two young baboons playing tug of war with my pony tail to Lucy a 15kg adult wanting to be held the whole walk, I return home after a few hours a beautiful mosaic of foot prints, mud, zebra slobber and another shade to my African tan.

Before I get a chance to put myself back together a phone call comes in of an orphaned animal needing our assistance, there is no distance too far we wouldn’t travel to help an animal in need. This time it’s a baby Duiker who has lost her mom and will need to be bottle fed until she is old enough for release. Thanking her rescuers, I get into the car, getting a glance at myself in the rear mirror I think to myself “those poor people must think I live in the jackal den with Maya our rescued jackal pup.”

With the new orphan settling in, evening feed is on the go, the kitchen is a bustling mess with feed bowls, food and the handlers making sure everyone gets their meals on time. Eggs for Finley and Finch the banded mongoose, an extra banana for Zulu the blind monkey and don’t forget the strawberry yoghurt for Yoda the 15 year old Bush baby.

I don’t have a TV, but as night falls and I think about my day I really don’t need one, it’s been another amazing episode of my wild and crazy life.

With a happy heart as I get into bed, other than continuing my journey of saving those without a voice my only other wish is to share this magical and rewarding journey with those who have a passion in their soul for animals.

Volunteer with Baye

Baye takes in a few volunteers at any one time to literally help her with all the jobs required to the keep the show on the road. She recommends staying for a minimum of 2 weeks upwards to make the most of the experience.

You literally become part of the family - humans and wildlife. For anyone interested in conservation, wildlife and Africa - this is a very rare and special opportunity.

For more information on how to get involved - email or join leap VIP to access Baye's details and watch Milly's interview with the leading lady and some of her friends...


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