Bambelela – To Hold On (Zulu)
Silke von Eynern, the founder and major benefactor of the facility, originally immigrated to South Africa from Germany in 1990, with her late husband. After his death in 1997 she decided to dedicate her life and savings towards the care and conservation of South African Wildlife and so Bambelela (which means “to hold on” in Zulu) came into being in December 2003.
The original objective was to reintroduce game into the Groot Nylsoog area of the Waterberg. She purchased five Blue Wildebeest, but upon their arrival quickly determined that the animals were only a couple of days old. One died that first night; however, with the advice and assistance of Brian Jones from Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) Rehab in Hoedspruit, she managed to pull the other four through. Silke had to hand raise these babies and in order to do so had to apply for permits from Nature Conservation Limpopo, and so the process began.
Silke began taking over the care of animals from Moholoholo that were almost ready for release back into the wild and in doing so, recognized her true calling: to help wild animals in need. People from the Waterberg district learned of her work and started to call upon her for help, as did the veterinarians from the region. Bambelela became well known and well regarded as a Rehabilitation Centre and has successfully rehabilitated and released many species of antelope, including Eland, Kudu, Impala, Red Hartebeest, Nyala, Blue Wildebeest, Warthogs, Bush Pigs, Serval Cats, Zebra, Yellow-billed Kites, Black-back Jackals, Porcupines, and many more. Silke even had the pleasure of looking after an orphaned Rhino baby, who is now a sub adult and living free.
Then, by chance, Silke’s heart was touched by a Vervet monkey. It was found abandoned in a cage on a property outside Bela Bela, which was for sale. The owners had already departed, so the estate agent brought the young, female Vervet to Bambelela. A few days later, a neighbour dropped off a younger Vervet. Then, a Vervet baby was taken away from someone in Naboomspruit and she ended up at Bambelela, too.
The spark of interest in Primatology was ignited! Silke began her quest for knowledge about these special creatures, how to hand-raise them, how to build appropriate enclosures or camps for them, how to feed them, and how to prepare them for release back into the wild. She is exceedingly grateful to the late Rita Miljo, founder from C.A.R.E., the Baboon Rehabilitation Centre in Phalaborwa, for her mentorship all along the way.
Silke applied for a Rehabilitation and a Hospitalization License to officially operate as such a Centre. Obtaining the licenses takes a lot of time and isn’t easy, but Bambelela has taken great care to build enclosures according to specifications outlined by other Nature Conservation offices in other Provinces and maintains the standards for cleaning, feeding and caring for wildlife in line with all regulations given to them by Nature Conservation Limpopo. In August 2010 the application was approved by the officials and since then Bambelela has been an official Wildlife Care and Rehabilitation Farm for Vervet Monkeys. The next step is to establish a Vervet Monkey Sanctuary for the Waterberg.
Bambelela is now home to over 300 Vervet monkeys, necessitating a team of FGASA students, field guides and volunteers from around the world to join Silke in her work with these monkeys and all the other wildlife that comes to Bambelela for rehabilitation. They work in close collaboration with Marius du Toit, the veterinarian from Bela Bela. Silke also works very closely with C.A.R.E. and Bambelela functions as an in-between-transfer station for orphaned or injured baboons in the Waterberg area. Silke transfers the baboons to C.A.R.E as soon as possible, with a transport permit from Nature Conservation’s office in Modimolle.