DAKTARI 2016: A Year in Review
If you have been keeping up with the news at DAKTARI, you will know that we have had a lot to be thankful for this year. Thanks to support from our supporters like you and our sponsors, we were able to do a lot of wonderful things this year and we want to tell you about them!
A quick snapshot of our year:
- Welcomed 295 Grade 8 students from four secondary schools near DAKTARI to our camp in 2016
- Introduced 14 new animals to the wildlife orphanage
- Upgraded several buildings and our solar power system at DAKTARI
- Had 38 young adults attend our career guidance program to help them gain employment
- Hosted 57 Eco Clubs at two school
- Worked alongside 118 volunteers from 11 different countries
For a more detailed breakdown of everything we’ve accomplished with your help in 2016 and a sneak peek into 2017, keep reading! If you are short on time, just know that the DAKTARI team, our volunteers, our kids, and our animals all thank you for the opportunity to do what we love and reach so many people in our community.
The Teaching Program
The nearly 300 children we worked with in 2016 came from four different schools: Maahlamele, Ragkolokwana, Nareng, and Lepono. All of these secondary schools are located in villages within 40km of DAKTARI in areas without running water.
Each week, 8 Grade 8 learners are picked up on Mondays and spend 5 days at DAKTARI, learning about the environment, how to care for animals, and important life skills to help them gain employment later in life. When the children arrive, we give them a survey to determine how much they know. Then, on Friday, they retake the survey to see how much they learned at DAKTARI. Overall, students improved by 37% from Monday to Friday!
The program has been changed and improved in the past year as well. We have added more activities to get the children involved and excited about the lessons. Our social talks about respect, substance abuse, and safe sex have all been updated. With the help of our volunteers, the new program has been working very well.
The Outreach Program
The 2016 Outreach Program had some great highlights. We completed a full year of Eco Clubs at both Maahlamele and Rakgolokwana – our first year of Eco Clubs at Ragkolokwana! All together, 171 different learners attended our Eco Clubs throughout the year, learning about the environment, animal facts, and how to turn rubbish into useful products.
We also worked with two creches in the Oaks Village to inspire the young children (ages 1-4) to love animals. Although we have since decided to discontinue working with the young children for now, it was an amazing experience getting to teach and play with the children each week and see their smiling faces!
DAKTARI also continued with our career guidance program, inviting 7 groups of local youth to our camp for lessons in job seeking and the environment.
Finally, our team worked tirelessly to provide other opportunities in the community. There were three business workshops held for women in the village, along with bead-making trainings. Indigenous trees were planted at 4 schools and are being taken care of by the students. The Maahlamele Eco Club worked together to build Eco Bricks using two-liter plastic bottles filled with rubbish. These bricks were used to build a dustbin at the Oaks market.
It was a busy year in the community and we already have many plans for next year!
The Wildlife Orphanage
As always, the animals coming to and leaving DAKTARI are always a wonderful experience for the staff, volunteers, and kids. We welcomed some long-term residents including Dongo the Wild Dog, two Jackals named Minnie and JP, two mongoose, Kiwi and Anando, and Donnie, a Wahlberg’s Eagle.
Our staff and volunteers have helped handraise several baby animals, including a female nyala, Poquita, and a female mongoose, Kiwi. We have released a caracal, Luscious, our baby nyala, and several baby squirrels that we raised.
Sadly, our work also includes some bad news as well. Our lovably dog, Bouba, passed away in August. Three of our marmosets were attacked by animals in the bush, as was our grey loerie, Boy. Two of our adult mongoose also fell ill and passed away earlier in 2016.
Hand-raising baby animals is often very difficult. We lost a baby squirrel, two baby birds, and three baby mongoose that were being raised by their mother.
Our animal enclosures were also improved many times in 2016. We added an enclosure for the Wild Dog and the dassies. The mongoose enclosure was extended to be almost twice the size. The rabbits got more room to roam by their enclosure as well.
Thankfully, we have many more good days here than sad ones. We are excited to see what 2017 holds and continue learning with every animal we work with.
DAKTARI camp improvements
Our biggest camp improvement in 2017 has definitely been our new solar panel system. The panels allow us to have more consistent power for the whole camp and now we rely less on our generator which is better for the environment!
We’ve also updated our bar with some fresh paint and new furniture. We use the space for storage and for night lessons with the kids when the classroom is too dark. The kids get to watch the Lion King and eat their popcorn on the new couches!
Three new cabins have been built at the camp. These cabins can sleep up to 7 people and are extra accommodation for our long-term and short-term volunteers. That means we can have up to 22 volunteers at once!
Big plans for 2017
DAKTARI is busy right now finalising our 2017 plans and cannot wait to get started! Among our goals for the new year is to improve our teaching program some more and make more of our lessons one-on-one or taught in small groups. We will also be updating all of our animal enclosures to make them more natural and like their original environment. The Eco Clubs at the schools will also have a more standardised curriculum. Finally, we will be evaluating the impact of all of our programs.
Thank you again for all of your support. We are looking forward to an exciting year in 2017!