Guest Post & photograph by Wim van den Heever, a professional wildlife photographer based in South Africa and owner of Tusk Photo.
Whilst conservation is helping massively in every corner of the globe, there is still much to be done in order to protect the most fragile life forms. Every action you take towards helping any species, whether they're threatened or critically endangered, can work wonders in prolonging their existence.
Africa is home to many species that are facing extinction. Resources can at times be scarce which can exacerbate the problem for local people and wildlife creating problems such as deforestation. With our simple guide you can make a difference to the conservation of wildlife in Africa, some even from the comfort of you couch!
Below are a few ways you can make a difference and aid the conservation of wildlife:
- Community projects such as educating children about the environment can help decrease rates of poaching and inspire the local community to care for their natural heritage.
- Community conservancies are also a popular way to aid communities in wildlife management and protect livestock belonging to pastoralists.
- Joining forces with others and volunteering your time allows you to help out in projects both national and internationally. Non-profit organisations always need a helping hand in training, feeding and saving animals in danger.
2. Adoption and Rehabilitation
- Adopting an animal is another way of showing support for a wildlife conservation charity. By adopting an animal in Africa you are helping fund conservation projects, community collaboration and the monitoring of threats towards these animals.
- Volunteering at wildlife centers like DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage is another way to be involved in wildlife conservation and get hands on experience assisting with animal care.
3. Shop your Support
- Most online checkouts offer a donation page to a selected charity, an increasing number of which are wildlife related! They generally ask for a few extra pennies on top of your purchase to go towards a great cause.
- You can also support wildlife charities through signing up for your local supermarket card. In South Africa, you can link your Woolworths supermarket card to a scheme called MySchool and sign up for free to a charity of your choice including wildlife organisations like DAKTARI! It costs nothing to sign up and funds are given back to the charity on your behalf so it is a win-win for everyone!
4. Live and Buy Responsibly
- By purchasing cruelty-free products you can make a small difference in ending demand for wildlife trafficking for profitable enterprises
- If you eat meat, source locally to ensure you know what you're purchasing and that it hasn't funded the demise of an endangered animal.
Wim van den Heever is a professional wildlife photographer based in South Africa and owner of Tusk Photo, who has had an ever growing interest in image-making and nature since a young age. His work is internationally published in the likes of BBC Wildlife and National Geographic. His ranges of safari tours are designed to show the beauty of African landscapes at their finest.
Recently, Husqvarna, a Swedish world-renowned manufacturer of outdoor power products, donated a 61 chainsaw to DAKTARI. We plan to use the chainsaw for general maintenance of both the camp and reserve. This will keep DAKTARI's camp safe and functioning so we can continue to welcome new animals, volunteers and children to DAKTARI! Donations like these are so important in order to keep our camp up to date.
Additionally, Rudamans Hoedspruit has kindly offered to service the chainsaw free of charge! Thank you Husqvarna and Rudamans for this kind donation!
This week, the children from the eco-club took a trip to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center.
Each week, as part of our outreach program, DAKTARI hosts eco-clubs at two local secondary schools: Maahlamele and Ragkolokwane. The eco-club is an after school activity that the children voluntary attend to learn more about the environment and conservation. Each eco-club is different but there is always a fun lesson or activity on a different environmental subject. The children help determine the curriculum and sometimes aid our Outreach Manager in teaching the classes.
After attending the club nearly every week, we were thrilled to be able to take these enthusiastic children on a field trip to Moholoholo. Moholoholo is a rehabilitation center that has lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and many other incredible animals. Often they are there because they cannot be released into the wild. The children got to have a tour of the center and learned about all of the different animals. This was an incredible experience for them because although they are very passionate about conservation and the environment, this was the first time they had the chance to see some of South Africa's most famed wildlife.
Thank you Moholoholo for an amazing day and a wonderful tour!
Recently we received a large donation of paint from PowaFix! PowaFix is a company that manufactures and supplies paint and related items across Southern Africa. They donated one tonne of white paint to DAKTARI that we plan to use to keep our camp looking fresh.
In addition they have kindly given us drop sheets, crack filler, plaster primer, sugar soap and everything else paint related!
We are first going to use the donation to redecorate the children's bathroom and showers to get them looking shiny and new again!
Thank you PowaFix for this wonderful donation! We can't wait to get painting with all of our wonderful new supplies!
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.
Last week we received a beautiful letter from three children describing their experience at DAKTARI. It is always amazing receiving messages like this. Thank you Wesly, Percevierence and Gabriel for sending this to us! The text of the letter is written out below:
"To DAKTARI Owners and Volunteers,
It is a great pleasure for us to write this letter to you. We really enjoyed our week at Daktari. It was nice to us from you Daktari.
First of all we would like to thank you for the knowledge you have given us and we really appreciate it. You guys taught us to respect, love and take care of everything that exists in the world. You gave us something that we needed to know for our whole life and that is the knowledge of animals. Before we came to DAKTARI we didn't know the dangers that can be caused by the dirty environment. We didn't know the importance of keeping the environment clean but right now we know because you were out there to teach us and give us this knowledge.
One more thing we did not know it was about animals and we know nothing about animals and we was thinking that animals are not important to us, they are just useless earth's creature but right now you guys helped us to see that they are useful and they need to be loved and protected just like us. Daktari is such a wonderful place with love, respect, peace and good care. We will never forget Daktari and we would like to visit Daktari again.
You taught us many good thing and we really appreciate them. God bless you for all of your life keep on going like this. We really need to come back to Daktari because we want to show you we learned a lot from you. Please we begging you because when we see the photos of Daktari we just remember how nice it was in there and its education.
Wesly, Percevierence and Gabriel"
We are very excited to announce that the DAKTARI office has expanded! As the DAKTARI team continues to grow we needed a little more space to accommodate our office staff.
The DAKTARI office team is now comprised of an Outreach Manager, Outreach Assistant, Marketing Manager, Fundraising Manager, Office Assistant, Office Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and Animal Care Manager. In addition, of course, to DAKTARI's co-founders Ian and Michele! This doesn't include our unofficial office team: our four dogs Kenzo, Nikita, Mirabel and Gucci.
As DAKTARI grows it is great to have a brand new space making our office look and feel considerably bigger. We have knocked through the wall to the volunteer office creating a significantly more comfortable and spacious area with lots of natural light and fresh air. The image on the right shows a glimpse of the new space.
We look forward to achieving much success here thanks to our dynamic and hard-working team!
Last weekend DAKTARI took ten children on a field trip to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center. The center is home to many of South Africa's abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife. Some of the animals they have are unable to be released into the wild so act as animal ambassadors for their species. The children had a tour of the center and were able to see many animals for the first time including lions, leopards, hyenas and even a honey badger!
The children were so excited to see the lions there and couldn't believe the size of them. They had only ever seen them on TV before and thought they would be much smaller in real life. The children loved taking photos of the male lion and were fascinated by the strength of him.
The highlight of the trip was learning how to hold and feed vultures! Each of the children had the chance to hold a vulture on their arm and feed it food. This was a great experience for them even though the vulture was very heavy!
After the trip one of the students thanked DAKTARI for the trip. Magedline said "Thank you for the trip I had so much fun! Moholoholo was amazing, especially the lions!"
Thank you Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center for treating the children to his incredible educational experience.
A few times a year, when the children are writing exams, DAKTARI hosts a job-hunting program. Local unemployed youths stay at the DAKTARI camp for a week and learn valuable CV, job research and interview skills.
After their week here, DAKTARI runs follow up workshops in the village to support their job-hunting efforts and expand the students' skills sets. Last week, DAKTARI conducted a workshop in the Oaks Village that was attended by four students from the job-hunting program: Titus, Portia, Honest and Valencia. The volunteers helped them adjust their motivation letters and reviewed how they could improve their job research. This included how to make a good impression when introducing yourself to a future employer.
For two intense hours the students worked hard and have left the workshop with a renewed hope of finding a job. We are confident that these hardworking individuals will soon be employed.
DAKTARI is lucky enough to welcome Nodia Mametja, our new Animal Care Manager. Read a short interview with Nodia to find out more about him!
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Nodia Mametja and I am from the Oaks Village.
Why is the environment important to you?
I feel like we are all connected to the environment and that is why it is so important to look after it. When I was younger I really enjoyed spending time in the environment. As I grew I started searching for different projects and opportunities that would allow me to work in the environment. I joined DAKTARI so I could gain more experience in this field.
Why did you decide to work at DAKTARI?
I decided to work at DAKTARI because I have a passion for working with animals. For me, being here is a dream come true.
What is your favourite animal at DAKTARI and why?
My favourite animal is Molly the bush pig. She is so friendly! I wish I could spend all day with her because she is so sweet.
What are you most looking forward to about working at DAKTARI?
I am looking forward to working with animals and the environment at the ground level. I would like to rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild. All of the animals here seem happy but I think soon it will be time for some of them to go and live in the bush in the wild.
We are happy to have you join us Nodia and we can't wait to report on your great work in the coming months!
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!