THE WILDLIFE ORPHANAGE
Having a safe place to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals has always been part of the vision of DAKTARI. It has also grown into an integral part of the education of the local children.
Most of the children that come to DAKTARI have never seen any of the Big 5 (rhino, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo) or any of the local wildlife. Due to poaching and the killing of animals because they destroy crops, the wildlife has been relocated to private and national reserves for their protection. Entrance into these reserves is too expensive for most of the local communities.
This is where DAKTARI comes in. We teach the children that their local wildlife should not be inherently feared or hated. We teach them that animals should be protected and respected. We teach them that the local wildlife creates jobs through tourism and animal care.
Our vision is to have a local community that is passionate about and protects the animals around them. This is only possible with the wildlife orphanage. Without seeing the animals, touching them and caring for them, the children would not find their passion for animals and the environment. The animals at our orphanage play the role of animal ambassador to protect the many other members of their species.
DAKTARI is home to dozens of animals that have no chance of being released into the wild. Some of them have been permanently injured, like our raptor birds that cannot fly, others were hand-raised and are too tame to survive in the wild. These animals are brought to DAKTARI by locals who find them or sent to us through our partnerships with Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, and local game reserves. They will live out their days at DAKTARI as animal ambassadors.
Although not a full rehabilitation centre, DAKTARI is often home to several animals that are being raised or rehabilitated in order to be released. Most often, these animals come to us as abandoned babies. We raise them and then release them on our farm or on a nearby reserve. DAKTARI has successfully released three nyala, two sable, two porcupines, countless tree squirrels, a buffalo, a large-spotted genet, dozens of mongoose, several warthogs and many other incredible animals.
ANIMALS AS AMBASSADORS
What do animals do as ambassadors? Just seeing some of the animals in person and watching them is enough to spark interest and excitement for many of the children. However, the animals are important for more than just a quick tour.
The animals in the orphanage are integrated into the teaching program with the children. There are lessons about poaching, animal facts and learning how to identify animals by their tracks. The children complete a scavenger hunt around the camp based on the different animals and facts about them.
Each morning and each afternoon, the children assist volunteers and staff in cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals. The children sometimes also interact with our more friendly residents during their free time.
By actively taking part in the animal care and by learning so much about the animals during their stay, the children are inspired to protect the wildlife. It would be impossible to achieve our mission without the animals in our care.
UNUSUAL ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS
From time to time some of our animals become friends. And those friendships aren’t always ones you’d expect. We recently discovered Inside Edition made an article about the unusual friendship between Chancy (a nyala we fostered a while back) and the other animals at the camp. Watch the video below or read the whole article here if you want!