Over the last month, our animal team and volunteers worked hard to renovate a part of our meerkat enclosure.
We dug out the old sand, put in some pipes for them to play in, brought fresh sand from the nearby river bed and decorated the enclosure with logs, plants, and wooden platforms.
Gasper and Tikki were extremely pleased with our work and they are now happily exploring their renovated home.
This month, we renovated the adult mongooses enclosure by adding more logs and plants. They arranged the enclosure so that it looks more like their natural habitat. Old tyres from the cars were also recycled to make tunnels and provide the mongooses something to climb on.
We are adding fresh branches to the enclosure every week to make the enclosure look green, and give the mongooses extra things to play with – hopefully they will find some bugs!
We recently said goodbye to our Meerkat family. Twelve of our meerkats left DAKTARI to be rehabilitated. Only Gasper and Tikki stayed behind because they are quite old and have lost some of their teeth.
Gasper was the first to arrive at DAKTARI in 2010, follow by Tikki (2011) and Madonna (2014). The family then grew with Madonna's three babies in November 2014: Porthos, Athas and Aramis. In 2017, Colo, Tschumi and Jess joined the meerkat family followed by Jess' three babies.
Eeyore the donkey is going to miss his butt scratching buddies and our staff will miss running after them when they escape! Although we were very sad to see them go; we are delighted to know that they will be back in their natural habitat soon enough.
We also said goodbye to Chimoya, the baby buffalo. She arrived in March and has grown up with Tango and Tony, the baby sable antelope. She returned to the neighbouring farm where she is from to join her buffalo family and live in the wild.
DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage provides supplementary environmental and life skills education to Grade 8 learners in the nearby underprivileged communities. But DAKTARI is also a wildlife Orphanage for the animals that have no possibility of being released into the wild.
The wildlife orphanage started with a blind donkey and a bushbuck. Today, more than 80 animals call DAKTARI home, including that same blind donkey and bushbuck. DAKTARI takes in animals that have no possibility of being released into the wild.
Regularly, DAKTARI welcome baby animals: meerkat, mongoose, squirrels, Sable Antelope or bush-baby. Like all DAKTARI’s animals, they play a large role in the children’s education about the environment.
The children interact daily with the animals at DAKTARI’s wildlife orphanage. The animals live in enclosures throughout the camp or live free in the bush surrounding camp. Twice per day, the children assist our volunteers and staff with animal feeding and care. Sometimes the children and volunteers can help raise small animals until they can be released back into the bush.
The DAKTARI Wildlife Orphanage offer the opportunity for the students to see a cheetah, jackal, or even a meerkat in person. Unfortunately, many of children have never seen the local wildlife even if they live near the Kruger National Park. The cost of entering these game reserves, both national and private, is too high for their families to afford. Their faces light up when they arrive and see a cheetah have a meal or have a squirrel jump on their shoulder. This experience inspires the children to want to protect these animals them!
We are very happy to welcome two new babies at DAKTARI this mouth!
At the beginning of March, we welcomed a baby sable antelope called Tango given to us from a nearby farm. We took in Tango when he was only 2 days old because his mother could not produce milk to feed him.
Raising a baby antelope is a real challenge due to the complexity of their stomach. Sable antelopes gave four chambers in their stomach and if the milk is not the correct temperature it can go into the the wrong chamber.
Last weekend, we welcomed Chimoya, a baby buffalo, given to us by a local farmer. We are taking care of her because her mother rejected her. She is now settled into her new enclosure with Tango who is very happy to have a new friend!
Our volunteers are doing an amazing job of providing food and care for our two new babies! They are feeding them every few hours, making sure they receive all the attention they need.
When Tango and Chimoya grow enough to go by themselves they will be released in a nearby reserve where they are free to enjoy the bush!
A few weeks ago DAKTARI acquired two new mongooses. In September we released a troop of six banded mongooses back into the wild. They had been at DAKTARI for over a year, giving them time to bond and form an established troop.
We had two remaining mongooses at DAKTARI, Jackson and Tuti, and were aware that we would not be able to release them until they have established a troop. Banded mongooses are highly social animals and much of their survival in the wild relies on them working as a team.
A few weeks ago, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center brought two banded mongooses to DAKTARI. They are both around eight months old and we hope that in time they will get well acquainted with Jackson and Tuti so they can be released back into the wild together.
Last week we found two lesser baby bush babies abandoned on the floor. After a windy night we think that they fell out of their nest. Unfortunately, their mother was nowhere to be seen so we quickly warmed them up and fed them. They both made it through the night and we are now giving them a great deal of hands on care, feeding them every few hours.
In time, they will start to eat on their own and then hopefully will be released back into the wild. We will keep you updated on the progress of Tic and Tac as they begin to grow and gain strength.
Exciting news at DAKTARI this week as we released six of our banded mongooses into the wild: Smurfie, Mongo, Sissi and her three babies.
Banded mongooses are native to Africa and are famed on their ability to kill snakes. Unlike many mongoose species, banded mongooses are highly social and live in troops of five to thirty animals. Smurfie, Sissi and Mongo were all brought to DAKTARI individually in 2015 and 2016. As the mongooses were unfamiliar with one another, we kept them in the same enclosure for over a year so they could bond and eventually form an established troop. Early this year, Sissi had three babies which meant three soon became six, an ideal number for a mongoose troop. We waited for the babies to grow and gain strength before eventually deciding on a release date.
The pack was released in an isolated part of DAKTARI's reserve, away from the camp. It was great to see them run to freedom and we hope they will do well in the wild! In the meantime we are left with Jackson, who was unable to be released as he continued to fight with the other mongooses and Rex and Tootie, who are still babies.
Click here to see the full footage of their release!
We are very happy to welcome Valerie, our new Giant Eagle Owl, to the DAKTARI family! Valerie was hit by a car and taken to a rehabilitation centre in the Phalaborwa region.
She had quite severe injuries and unfortunately this meant she had to have her wing amputated. Luckily Valerie was under the great care of Provet Wildlife Services so the operation went well. She stayed at the vet recovering for a week before eventually being transferred to DAKTARI.
She is now settled into her new enclosure with our other Giant Eagle Owl Coco, who is very happy to have a new friend!
Although she won’t be able to be released into the wild we are sure she will have a happy life at DAKTARI acting as an important animal ambassador to the children!
Maxi is a female bushbuck who was brought to DAKTARI in 2008 after suffering severe injuries caused by a dog attack. She was hand raised here and has gone on to raise several young of her own in the wild. A few months ago, we noticed Maxi was pregnant again and low and behold she has had another baby! Unlike her previous offspring, there is something very special about this baby: it's a cross between a bushbuck and a nyala, something very rare!
The bushbuck and nyala are both antelope species found in Southern Africa. Although the bushbuck is a close relative of the nyala, they have distinctively different appearances. Bushbuck are chestnut to dark-brown antelope with faint white lines and spots on their flanks. Unlike nyala, they do not have a white band between their eyes and instead have two white patches on their throat. The appearance of nyala greatly differs between males and females. Males are much bigger and have a slate-brown coat that is marked with white vertical stripes. Females are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.
Maxi's baby, the nyabuck, is lighter in colour than her and has prominent white stripes on its body like a nyala. However, it has no white stripes between its eyes and instead has two white patches on its throat like a bushbuck. We look forward to reporting on the appearance and health of our nyabuck as it grows up!