This morning we went to visit the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre which is a park of over 180 hectares used for rescuing animals, most of which have been kept in captivity. They attempt to release those that can be released but most are injured or don't know how to feed themselves and these animals will always have a home in the park.
That said, its set up like a zoo and there was very little evidence of conservation and all the animals we saw were never to be released which is in complete contradiction to their claim that the large majority will be released so it was a bit disappointing. After all our attempts to see a leopard in the wild we didn't even get to see one in a cage because it was asleep in its hut! The most we managed to see was a picture of it on the outside of the cage. I could see nothing physically wrong with her and apparently she knows how to kill and feed so I couldn't see why she will always remain in captivity!
There was also a female lion there which is a very sad story. This lion was kept in a Russian Zoo where she wasn't provided with the nutrients and minerals she needed to grow strong and her back end is extremely weak and malnourished. She can barely walk, it's like she's crippled and she will remain like that for life. She is also far too tame as she craves the company of humans (although only on the outside of her cage) and she will literally cry as you walk away. When we reached her enclosure she was at the back behind the trees and didn't know we were there. Our guide called her and she called back and came over to see us as quickly as she could manage. She then proceeded to walk up and down trying to get our attention by rubbing up against the fence like a domestic cat rubs up against your legs. She also played with a tractor tire just like a kitten plays with a toy. It was very disturbing and sad and I wondered if this is really the sort of life a lion deserves!
We did have a hillarious moment though...Adam actually bonded with a monkey! There was one close to the fence and Adam started making monkey noises and jumping up and down and the thing actually started copying him! There was a moment that was probably no more than 30 seconds where the two were mimiking each other like they were looking in a mirror. It was absolutely hillarious and Stefan and Roen who were nearby were practically rolling around on the floor laughing! I'm just gutted that I didn't get my camera out in time ;-/
Some people on tour enjoyed the park but I personally feel they can do a better job of conservation and release and wonder if in fact it's just a glorified zoo. The park itself is a new edition to the Nomad Tour for 2012 and they are awaiting feedback as to whether they continue the relationship. It's something to do and breaks up the long drives but there must be better options in town.
Afterwards we stopped in the city centre so that Vincent could pick up some supplies. The door lock had also broken on the truck and had to be fixed for security as most of us keep our belongings such as electrical goods and passports as well as money, etc, locked up in there at night.
Driving on for another 6 hours or so we reached Kande (candy) Beach which is to be our destination for the next couple of nights. It's a small resort on the edge of Lake Malawi and is absolutely packed with other overlanders. Within the resort is a bar and pool table etc but on the beach all the locals gather and try to sell their handmade products to the tourists. In the evening there was a huge game of football which included about 40 of the locals all having a kick about. The ball itself belongs to Adam, Roen and Kay but the locals stole it! We got it back later when they had gotten bored though!
Dinner was a noisy affair as the truck next to us was playing very loud, and very bad, music! Haha do we sound old or what!?!? To be fair though, playing, for example, the Titanic theme tune at full volume is not our idea of fun…
After dinner a few of us went to the bar where there was a party going on. One of the groups had decided to play fancy dress with some interesting results! I'm very glad we're not on that tour!