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FreeMe KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a registered Section 21 organisation, set up five years ago to handle orphaned, injured or sick wildlife from the Midlands area of KwaZulu-Natal. This was in response to an identified need for such a centre in an area which had very specific habitats and therefore very specific game species, including many vulnerable or endangered animals such as oribi, reedbuck, serval, several raptors and all the cranes. Although a largely rural area, the Midlands has seen tremendous development in the last few years, including a demand for tourist destinations and retirement villages and has also processed a number of land restitutions, all of which are threatening the wildlife in the area.
A volunteer from FreeMe Gauteng realised that the animals from this area were either being sent to CROW in Durban or were being handled by various individuals in their private capacity. This meant that wildlife going to CROW were driven for long periods of time before receiving treatment and were being subjected to a complete change in climate and environment. The likelihood of them ever being returned to the Midlands area was very remote. Those handled locally were never documented and were basically lost to the rehabilitation process. As costs of caring for the animals grew, the individuals involved were finding it more and more difficult to handle the number of patients needing attention.
Together with Wessa (Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA), a team was set up to establish FreeMe KZN and the organisation was donated land by a local farmer and a state of the art clinic, built by a local developer, just outside Howick - an ideal location to service an area stretching from Pietermaritzburg up to the Drakensburg and from Ixopo through to Greytown.
We have now been in operation for 4 years, and believe that we have reached a level of service and professionalism that is comparable to other similar establishments throughout the country. The ever increasing number of call outs, together with referrals from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, all the major Vet Practices and SPCAs and the public in the Midlands and Pietermaritzburg, bear witness to a growing awareness of our ability to handle difficult cases with a reasonable amount of success. We also work very closely with the Raptor Rescue Centre in Ashburton, Crow in Durban, and the Primate Centre in Richmond, and, between us, are developing a powerful community to rescue, rehabilitate and release all the animals from this area. In addition, we have just been informed that we have been granted our TOPS (Threatened and Protected Species) permits, which requires inspections and approval of our facility by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Last year we handled 754 animals, including 54 antelope. 15 of these were TOPS (threatened or protected species). All of these were released back into areas designated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as suitable for their release.
While the organisation runs with the help of a large number of volunteers, including overseas gap year students sent to us by the American Field Scholar initiative, trainee vets and vet nurses doing their elective from Onderstepoort and various other local youth organisations and individuals, the running costs are in the region of R40,000 per month. This includes salaries for a Centre Manager who doubles as a rehabilitation nurse, an administration / receptionist, a fund raiser and four cleaning staff. It is also used for veterinary costs, fuel and feeding and communications. Because of the huge area serviced by FreeMe and the ever increasing petrol price, a lot a pressure is placed on us financially to ensure that the animals and birds reach us as quickly as possible.
Until two years ago, FreeMe was funded to a large extent by a local developer, Rob Taylor, but after his death, we have been solely reliant on donations from the public. With the economic meltdown, a lot of the residents of Howick who are pensioners and are on fixed incomes have felt the squeeze, and donations are harder and harder to come by. This, together with rising costs, has forced us to find alternate sources of funds, and we are appealing for help in this regard.
FreeMe is a registered NPO and to ensure that finances are managed properly has appointed a local accounting firm to oversee this function. We have three years of financials, audited by Deloitte and Touche and have a properly constituted Board, which meets for Board Meetings and AGMs. All copies of financials and minutes of meetings are available to the public. In addition, permits for the running of a rehabilitation centre are issued annually by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and these are only granted after inspections are carried out on a regular basis.
If you require any further information, please visit our website at or contact us for any other documentation you might require.
Operates in: Howick, KwaZulu-Natal
Established in: 2005
Non-Profit Organisation Number: 066-704
Public Benefit Organisation Number:
Section 21 Company Number: 2007/010184/08
Contact person: Roz Marais
Phone: 033 330 3036
Fax: 086 653 9658
Physical address: Dry Mountain Farm, Karkloof Road, Howick
Postal address: P O Box 48, Howick, 3290
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