Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Press Release

Date Published
WERU2_LWT_DNPW_colourLike many countries across the world, Malawi is facing a wildlife crisis. Loss of habitats and biodiversity, and an increase in poaching, illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict, are all contributing to the decline. With limited resources to tackle the problem at government level a coordinated and concerted effort through public-private partnerships is needed.
The new Wildlife Emergency Response Unit (WERU) is a joint venture between Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) and the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW).  Launched primarily to help wild animals in distress, the service will support the welfare of individual animals as well as the conservation of flagship species such as elephant and rhino.  Working in and around national parks and other protected areas, the project will incorporate other facets of ‘Wildlife Conservation Medicine’, providing support services such as veterinary disease screening, research and environmental education.
The fully licensed mobile veterinary unit has been set up to provide fast response in-situ treatment for wild animals in distress.  Led by DNPW Veterinarian, Dr Amanda Salb, it is equipped with all required drugs and firearms to immobilize and treat small and large wild animals.  The team will also have the back up of Lilongwe Wildlife Centre (Malawi’s only accredited wildlife sanctuary) which has a vet clinic, orphan care/rehabilitation facility and full time vet of its own.  Species-specific protocols will guide the level of response so that resources are prioritised and – as a joint Government/NGO venture – no service fees will be charged with overhead costs (drugs, fuel etc) recuperated through donations where appropriate.
WERU will conduct research projects under the theme of Wildlife Conservation Medicine, including disease screening and population surveys. These will be run in partnership with DNPW, the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development (DAHLD) and other Malawi based NGOs.
Thanks to WERU’s mobility and strong partnerships with DNPW and NGO’s based around the national parks, the team will be on hand to deliver education on issues such as human-wildlife conflict, snaring and wildlife crime.  Any education will link in with LWT’s government accredited environmental education programme.  The team will also work together with DNPW scouts to improve knowledge on wildlife health, teaching staff when and how to take action.
amanda_WERUWERU is led by Dr Amanda Lee Salb. Dr Salb received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Louisiana State University, US, in 2004.  For the next seven years she practiced in the United States and Canada in a variety of settings focusing on zoo and exotic animal medicine.  After receiving her Master of Science studying Wildlife Epidemiology in 2011, she left the States to work as a project manager and instructor for local conservation NGO’s in Belize, Botswana, and Namibia.  After completing the course on the Chemical and Physical Restraint of Wild Animals in Zimbabwe, Amanda came to Malawi as        Lilongwe Wildlife Centre’s veterinarian during which time she also assisted with several rhino and elephant tracking and capture operations in Liwonde.  She is the only in-country veterinarian trained in the capture of wildlife, she is registered with DAHLD and currently works directly for DNPW.
WERU will eventually be taken on by the government as a joint venture between DNPW and DAHLD, therefore building capacity within Malawi is crucial for the longevity of the programme.  DAHLD veterinarian, Dr. Joseph Nkhoma, has been selected by DNPW to join the WERU team. Dr. Nhkoma graduated as a Veterinary Surgeon in 2001 from the University of Zimbabwe and has worked in a variety of settings including mixed animal private practice, for animal welfare organisations, and with government institutions dealing with animal health, policy and welfare issues.  He has experience in wildlife disease surveillance and is currently a Malawi representative for the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) for wild animal diseases.
WERU_partnersWERU is a joint venture between Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and the Department of National Parks & Wildlife and is  supported by the Department of Animal Health & Livestock Development.
WERU will also support and partner with Malawi based NGO’s on various projects, all of whom are conducting wildlife research and conservation work across the country – for   example CAWS (Liwonde), Wildlife Action Group (Thuma) and Conservation Research Africa (Liwonde & Kasungu).
The programme has been made possible due to the generosity of a number local and international donors.  Seed funding was provided through local fundraising efforts at the Wildlife Valentine’s Ball, plus generous donations from several individuals who have pledged to sponsor medicine and equipment.  The WERU vehicle has been donated by Land Rover via the Born Free Foundation, who have also pledged further operational funds to support the programme and The Wilderness Trust are funding the capacity-building wildlife capture courses.  Thanks all for your support.
The more funding and support that WERU receives, the greater impact we can have….
DONATE: Sponsoring a project, a rescue or a piece of equipment, however small, would be a huge help.
VOLUNTEER: WERU will be accepting up to two volunteers at a time to help carry out its work.  For the time being these will be veterinary students only who are looking for experience in Wildlife Conservation Medicine.  As and when other projects are instigated other volunteers with different skill sets will be required, so please feel free to get in touch and find out what opportunities are available. – email [email protected]
SPREAD THE WORD: if you are based in Malawi and see or hear of any animal in distress, please contact us and let other people know about the services we provide. You can also follow our news at www.llilongwewildlife.org.
If there is any way you can help then please get in touch
WERU2greenWILDLIFE RESCUE HOTLINE (LWT): T: +265(0)88 44 88 999.
DNPW CONTACT: T: +265(0)1759 833.
E: [email protected]. T: +265(0)998 597 938 .
E: [email protected].  T: +265(0)211951458.