Here at DAKTARI, we are always saving baby animals… some we find and some are brought to us. A few of the most common animals include; squirrels, bats, mongooses, bushbucks, klipspringers and bush babies. Bush babies are my personal favorite. Who wouldn’t love that little face with the big eyes?
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.