Refuge Decan Djibouti Reviews
A safe haven for mistreated animals Nov 26, 2009
Refuge DECAN (DECouvrir et Aider la Nature), founded in 2001 by the veterinary surgeon Bertrand Lafrance, is a non profit organization.
It started when someone showed up at Bertrands veterinary clinic one day with a sick cheetah cub. Bertrand looked up cheetah in his book and found that it was an endangered species. He then called the police. The police went down to the port, where the cheetah cub had come from, and uncovered a big business in selling wild animals as pets to Saudi Arabia.
Bertrand started a cooperation with the police, and when the police discovered wild animals at the port, they brought them to him. When he had 7 cheetahs in his 5 x 10 meter garden it became a bit too crowded and he managed to get a 30 hector property outside Djibouti Town.
Today they receive animals not only from the port, but also from zoos around the world. If it is possible, they try to return the animals back into the wild. If not, they stay at the refuge.
When I was there they had birds of prey, gazelles, 4 caracals (lynx), 6 cheetahs, tortoises, ostriches, wild donkeys, a zebra, and 2 striped hyenas.
The hyenas had been kept by the French Army as pets, but as they had grown too big, the army was going to shoot them. Bertrand could not bear hearing about this and made a home for them at the refuge. Since they had grown up as someone´s pets, they were too tame to return to the wild. We were lucky and were allowed into their enclosure. The male was rather shy, but the female was content to give us a lick and she loved to have her tummy rubbed. I never thought I would ever play with hyenas!
The zebra came from a Spanish zoo, the wild donkeys from Poland and the cheetahs would have gone to Saudi Arabia.
Refuge DECAN´s only income is the entrance fee of between USD 4-5. The only paid people at the refuge are a few local people who take care of the park. All the others work as volunteers. Usually they break even, but when not, Bertrand pays out of his own pocket to feed the animals. These animals are so lucky to have someone as dedicated as he is.
I would absolutely recommend everyone to visit Refuge DECAN and by paying the small entrance fee support their fantastic work for Africa´s fragile wild life.
Part of the My Djibouti seatrek travel blog
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