The last few weeks have been very busy at our camp as we have started to update some of our animal enclosures. Our animal team have been working hard to improve parts of the camp. They recently finished the rabbit enclosure and did an incredible job giving them a brand new home. The improvements included:
- Expanding the size of the enclosure
- Replacing the mesh roof with tiles
- Creating a place to store hay
- Building a house for them to shelter in
- Replacing the fencing and adding another door
They are now working on the dassie enclosure! Although it is still a work in progress, the improvements will include:
- New mesh on the front of the enclosure
- Stones surrounding the enclosure
- A place to store hay
- Integrating more natural aspects such as wood, water and hay
Once the dassie enclosure is complete there are plans to renovate the meerkat, mongoose and caracal enclosures. We hope to report many more improvements in the coming months!
Happy 2018! Here at DAKTARI we are very excited to start the New Year. Firstly, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who donated to our End of Year Giving campaign. We raised $8120, surpassing our goal of $5000 by $3120! This is a wonderful way to enter 2018 and we are grateful for your tremendous support.
We have been closed for four weeks over the holiday period, giving us time and space to refurbish parts of the camp. Thanks to the hard work of our staff, the entire camp has been painted and some of the animal enclosures have been updated. This was possible due to the generous paint donation we received from Powafix.
In addition to refurbishments, we have been very busy keeping our animals fed and comfortable and preparing for the year ahead. Over the holidays, we have welcomed a number of new arrivals to the camp including four new squirrels and a little chick named Chiquito.
This past weekend we welcomed our first volunteer of 2018, who is already a mum to a baby squirrel. It was found the day she arrived and requires round the clock care as it has yet to open its eyes.
We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new volunteers over the weekend and the start of our job-hunting students on Monday!
Today marks the last day of our teaching program before we close for the holidays!
It has been a very busy year for DAKTARI. We have welcomed over 342 children to our teaching program and 43 young adults into our Job Hunting Program!
We have also accomplished a lot in the Wildlife Orphanage. We successfully released 12 animals into the wild: 4 squirrels, 1 brown snake eagle, 3 jackals (unfortunately two returned) and 6 mongooses.
All of this could not be achieved without the help and support from our wonderful volunteers. We are pleased to say that this has been our busiest year yet with 131 volunteers dedicating their time and efforts to DAKTARI.
Although there have been some challenges we are so grateful for everything we were able to achieve this year and are very excited for the year ahead.
Thank you all for your continued encouragement, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
DAKTARI is lucky enough to welcome Marina, our new animal assistant! Marina is joining us from France where she previously worked as a zookeeper at Biotropica Zoo in Normandy. She is staying with us for six months and will help our Animal Manager Nodia with the care and welfare of DAKTARI's animals.
Marina has dreamed of coming to Africa since she was young and always wanted to do some volunteering. She is particularly excited to work at DAKTARI because there is a lot she feels she can change and improve. Additionally, she is looking forward to learning about new cultures and what it means to live in the bush!
She has had a busy first week which has involved de-worming the rabbits and collecting and settling in a new meerkat.
We are very excited to have you at DAKTARI Marina and we hope you have a great time here in the coming months!
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.
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.