27 June 2012
Stephen Brend, Born Free Ethiopia Project Director, reports on Lietl the rescued baby civet - and the difficulties involved with hand rearing a wild animal.
Does my eyebrow really look like a caterpillar?
Lietl, the civet, does not live in the kitchen; she lives in the spare bedroom. Or she did until Chris Gordon and Anne Marie Stewart, Directors of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, and old friends of mine, came to stay. That meant the civet’s room reverted to being their room, and my bedroom was adapted to become civet HQ.
There really was not another option: she is too small to cope with the existing facilities at the Rescue Centre; there are too many electrical flexes in the living room, which would be very tempting to gnaw on; the tiled bathroom is too cold; and the kitchen is obviously out – there is a limit to how much I want to share. But being in my room was not a problem, as long as I was not there. With Chris and Anne Marie in the house they could handle Lietl’s nightly feeds, and I could sleep up at Ensessakotteh, our wildlife rescue centre, for a few nights so as to keep an eye on Kebri, the newly arrived and very traumatised lion cub. That was Plan A. Unsurprisingly, it did not work.
On Wednesday, after just one night at Ensessakotteh, we were told of an infant gelada (baboon) that needed rescuing. After making sure Kebri had eaten his afternoon feed, I left the Centre and headed back to Addis Ababa to collect the little orphan. As it turned out, she was neither little nor a gelada. Rather, she is a hamadryas baboon like Kasanchis, and not much smaller. I had not expected anything quite so big and lively, but there was nothing else for it but to transport her back home.
Once back at the house/office compound, we got the baboon sorted out and I could enjoy an unexpected night at home, a hot shower and my own bed – not. I had the shower, but not the bed, or at least not to myself. I woke up (suddenly!) at around 3am when Lietl decided to bite my eye brow. Her teeth are too small to do any damage but it was still a rude return from dreamland. Worse, once I was awake, she was delighted as she then thought she had a play mate… Honestly, the cold of the tent would have been preferable.
So what are the take home messages from this little saga?