Part 1…An important message for residents and tourists in Marloth Park…

One of two barn owls in an outdoor cage. Deidre released this own into the wild last night. Here is the video from the release.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is the more colorful male of the snake-eating peacocks, happily visiting Wild & Free Rehabilitation grounds.

We met Deidre Joubert-Huyse at “movie night in the bush” on February 25th, shortly after we’d arrived in Marloth Park, which was hosted as a fundraiser for Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation. That post may be found here.

We were interested in the event and the intent of the rehab facility, with its focus on rescuing ill and injured wildlife in Marloth Park and surrounding areas. A few days after the event, we met with Lisa, one of Deidre’s assistants, who’d hosted the event at her home here in the park and who’d rescued several bushbabies with the plan to return them to the wild, which has since been accomplished. That post may be found here.

We drove through a beautiful orange grove to arrive at the Wild & Free Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release facility in Hectorspruit, located about 30 minutes from Marloth Park.

When we think of rescue centers, we often recall visiting various rescue facilities we’ve seen throughout our world travels. Although many of these facilities rescued animals from rehabilitating and releasing them into the wild, many did so only to present them as “zoo” animals. The owners and managers would generate revenue from tourists. 

Although not accurate in many cases, this discovery has been disheartening over these past years of world travel.  We couldn’t avoid feeling that the animals were exploited by leading the public to believe the facility owners’ ultimate intentions were to aid in wildlife conservation when in fact, it was not.

Deidre Joubert Huyse, who developed and ran the rescue facility, met us at a local petrol station, and we followed her to the center. We’d had a hard time finding it without her assistance. For Wild & Free’s Facebook page, please click here.

Thus, when we attended “movie night in the bush” some months ago, we took it with a grain of salt. Was this another case of a few people who love animals, caring for them for their gain and altruistic reasons? How wrong we were! In this case, we loved being wrong!

As the months passed and we’ve become more knowledgeable about the health and well-being of wildlife in Marloth and Kruger National Park and, as we listened to endless conversations revolving around varying opinions on how wildlife health should be handled, Deidre’s name came up over and over again, always with the utmost of regard for her work, skill, and dedication.

We were impressed by the organization, cleanliness, and commitment evidenced in the facility.

Most recently, as mentioned in an earlier post that may be found here, we were inspired by Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Ushie and Evan to write a story on alien invasive plants that impact not only the park but also areas throughout the world.  That post may be found here.

After an orientation of the impact of alien invasive plants, Uschie and Evan gave us an entirely new perspective of plant life and wildlife, particularly here in Marloth Park. For us, it changed everything.

Wild & Free is supported through donations for the facility, medical care, and the feeding of the various wildlife rescued by Deidre and her staff.

Sure, it’s enticing and easy to get caught up in the magic of the visiting wildlife in the park and the “fun” of self-driving through Kruger National Park, sharing photos and receiving “oohs, aahs, and likes” from our worldwide readers when we post photos that appeal to their tastes.

But there’s so much more than that. And, with our vast local and worldwide audience, we are entrenched in the perfect arena to “get a message out” about the protection and preservation of that which surrounds us here in Marloth Park and throughout the world.

The ground surrounding Wild & Free is located on the Crocodile River at the ultimately most exquisite river view we’ve seen anywhere in the world, a perfect environment for rescuing and recovering wildlife by Deidre’s dedication and commitment.

No, we’re not going to become banner-wielding enthusiasts to distract us from the primary intent of our site, living as homeless nomads as we travel the world for as long as we physically can. Our daily posts encompassing the joys we derive from the wildlife we encounter and the scenery we behold will never change.

When Uschi and Evan explained the symptoms and horrors of bovine tuberculosis and how it’s impacting kudus in Marloth Park, we were both heartsick with this information. What could anyone do? Was there something we could do? This story over the next few days will explain everything.

Deidre had to amputate the foot of this Egyptian goose who suffered a severe injury after being tangled in a fishing line. It’s only been three weeks since his surgery, but he’s adapting well and will eventually be able to return to the wild.  For now, he happily stays on the grounds of the facility. 

We left their home with this bit of knowledge, unsure of where to take it from there.  Ironically, the next day, while on our usual almost-daily two-hour drive through the park searching for the unusual, we spotted a kudu with the obvious signs of tuberculosis on her face for the first time. These large bulbous tumors can manifest all over their bodies. (Photos we took of this kudu will follow in tomorrow’s post, Part 2).

Had we not met with Uschie and Evan the previous day, we’d have dismissed these tumor-like structures on her face as some congenital disability or physical anomaly. Instead, we forwarded the photos to Evan, and he reported it to the rangers, who’d have no choice but to find and euthanize the diseased kudu. Bovine TB is highly contagious to other kudus and wildlife (not necessarily spread to humans).

These two genets were soon to be released into the wild.  These two were at the facility due to the urbanization of their natural habitat, and they were separated from their mothers.

From there, in our discussions with others, Deidre’s name kept coming up along with the government vet, Dr. Dawid, who is working with Deidre in an attempt to discover ways to possibly control the spread of this life-taking disease among kudus (and potentially other animals as well) via adequate testing which is in its infancy.

So, here we are, especially after meeting with Deidre yesterday at her amazing facility in Hectorspruit, finding ourselves committed and dedicated to sharing this newfound information with those who may be able to play a role in saving lives of many kudus.

The scenery surrounding the rescue center is so astounding it took our breath away.  It bespeaks a “healing” environment.

Thanks to Deidre and all her hard work and unbridled dedication in aiding in the real and dedicated rescue and release of many species that surround us in magnificent South Africa and in her research and intent to impact Bovine TB. 

A special thanks to  MP Honorary Rangers Ushie and Evan for contributing their time to educating us on these critical issues in Marloth Park. We still have a lot to learn and will continue to seek information from those who teach us so much.

These peacocks are known to kill snakes with the utmost expertise and precision.  Each day, they hang around the rescue center, pecking off seeds and various treats they find on the grounds. These are the females.

Tomorrow, we’ll share how each can play a vital role in reducing the spread of this horrible disease affecting the gorgeous wildlife in Marloth Park. Please check back for more.

Wild & Free Rehabilitation may be reached here for donations.

Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2017:

Buildings on the grounds of the Butchart’s Gardens. For more photos, please click here.

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