6 December 2008
Bulawayo — One of Africa’s biggest wildlife rehabilitation centres, Chipangali, faces closure due to acute food shortages that threaten to wipe out the entire population of wild creatures that draw thousands of tourists every year.
The wildife orphanage, which has been featured in several documentaries promoting tourism in Zimbabwe, lies a few kilometres from Bulawayo.
It relies on donations to provide sanctuary to the 300 animals from different species that have been orphaned, abandoned, injured, born in captivity or brought up unsuccessfully as pets.
But Nicky Wilson who runs the orphanage expressed concern the donations were drying up. She said they might be forced to close down if the situation does not improve soon.
“We are facing serious problems,” Wilson said. “Wild animals face starvation at the centre due to food shortages.
“The institution urgently requires donations to stop hunger from wiping out all the animals kept here.”
She warned the closure of Chipangali would have a negative impact on the country’s already ailing tourism sector.
“We urgently need meat, maize, vegetables and fruit to feed the hungry animals,” she said. “The hunger situation is a threat to tourism.”
Chipangali is home to lions, leopards, baboons, snakes, owls, and crocodiles, among other animal species.
The centre is also struggling to provide drinking water to the creatures due to constant power cuts.
“We also experience power outages and this results in us failing to pump water for the thirsty animals since our boreholes are powered by electricity. The animals might die of thirst.”
Founded in 1973 by ex-game ranger Vivian Wilson and his wife Paddy, the sanctuary has also become a useful resource centre to educate the Zimbabwean public especially young children with the aid of live viewing of many species not easily seen in the wild.
The tourism industry has been severely affected by the rampant killing of wild animals as some species are now on the verge of extinction.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org