Find out what's going on at DAKTARI

Read through DAKTARI's Blog to get updated on what's happening at the camp. If you want to receive our newsletter to stay up-to-date, sign up at the bottom of the page!

Children Stories
Animal Stories
Campaign Stories
Thursday, 17 August 2017 18:43

Education Workshop at Local High School!

Last week, DAKTARI visited Lepono High School to conduct a workshop on the importance and value of education. DAKTARI runs an outreach program in addition to an environmental education program and wildlife orphanage. DAKTARI's outreach program has four main parts: eco-clubs at two local secondary schools (Maahlamele and Rakgalokwana), community development, waste management and a job-hunting program. 


Approximately one hundred eight and ninth graders were able to participate in the workshop. In small groups, the children spent seven minutes interviewing a DAKTARI volunteer about their job and previous education. Once the seven minutes were up, the groups swapped and the children were able to interview another volunteer. The children asked the volunteers what they do, what they studied at school and whether or not they went to university. By the end of the workshop the students had spoken to seven volunteers who were from different countries around the world. The volunteer's career and education backgrounds were all vastly different which was beneficial for the students as it highlighted that basic education is important no matter what job you want to do!  

Monday, 14 August 2017 22:44

Hannah Barnett - Volunteer July 2017

Online, DAKTARI's ideal balance of working with children and animals seemed too good to be true. I arrived expecting some sort of catch but soon learned that the website, as well as the rave reviews from past volunteers, are extremely accurate in depicting the curriculum and atmosphere DAKTARI has to offer. Unlike many programs, the volunteers aren't coddled - they are immediately embraced and given the utmost feeling of importance, as well as aptitude to complete their tasks. This sense of independence is, in my opinion, what gives DAKTARI the familial atmosphere that makes you forget that you are a volunteer. Although given a schedule of lessons, along with instructions, the way in which you're encouraged to be interpretive shows the way that DAKTARI understands how there is no 'right way' for something to be done. Although a running establishment for more than 11 years, this humility continues to be felt the minute Ian greets you at the airport. 


I was very impressed in the ways which DAKTARI implemented little, seemingly casual lessons with nature to instill impactful environmental considerations with the kids. Even the 20-minute morning dog walks managed to teach the kids important lessons about countering wild snakes and how to walk a dog with a combination of firmness and gentleness. These little lessons, as well as countless others are the ones I had assumed that the kids already knew. They hadn't and this highlights the way in which DAKTARI's great relationships with the nearby communities allow a valuable understanding of what to include in their curriculum. This understanding is also seen in the environmental lessons, in which DAKTARI's understanding of the local rubbish practices allow them to turn a broad lesson about the environment into one that the kids can relate to. 


One of my favorite parts about DAKTARI was how remote its location is. Coming from a big city, I expected to take a while to get used to the isolation and wild animals. This turned out to be the farthest thing from true- now back home, I realize how easily I took these things for granted. Small encounters, like Eeyore the donkey hanging out next to your chalet, or the squirrel coming up to you for a cuddle in the lapa are thing that I would give anything to experience one more time. And don't get me started on how much I miss cuddling with my meerkats. 


A little review cannot do justice to explain the amazing four weeks I had at DAKTARI. Even explaining DAKTARI to my friends and family back at home proves futile. This is because the experience at DAKTARI cannot be justified in the curriculum or the types of animals that they have there. Instead, my time at DAKTARI is made up of countless moments with the kids, animals, and other volunteers that I will take with me for the rest of my life. It's made up of the moments in which Ian and Michele truly felt like my surrogate parents. It's made up of the way I weirdly enjoyed picking up spotted owl poop. All these little moments are why I definitely know that I will be back one day. 

Thursday, 03 August 2017 03:07

Molly the Baby Bush Pig


Recently DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage acquired a new member of the family - a six month old baby bush pig called Molly. Molly was found abandoned, wandering around alone behind a shop in Hoedspruit, our nearest town. 


Since arriving at DAKTARI in May, Molly's confidence has grown everyday. She has quite the personality and loves walking around the camp, meeting all the other animals. She even tried to make friends with our cheetah Martin but I think he was more interested in eating her for dinner! As she's such a social animal we now take her on daily walks and give her a chance to stretch her legs and play around the camp! 


Molly loves to play with our volunteers and tries her best to give everyone muddy kisses! Some of her favourite things to do include playing football and taking mud baths! Click here to see a video of Molly playing football!


Saturday, 22 July 2017 01:49

Mandela Day: 67 bags for 67 years!

This Nelson Mandela Day, DAKTARI joined forces with one of our nearby villages, the Oaks, to take part in a big clean. Nelson Mandela Day celebrates Mandela's life and encourages everyone to take positive action in a way that will bring about sustainable change. There is no rubbish collection service in the area so waste management is a sizeable problem. Over the last few months, DAKTARI has been supporting the Oaks in formulating a waste management plan. The first step in this process was a village litter clean-up! 


Over fifty volunteers participated in the big clean including members of the Community Works Program and residents of the Oaks Village. The volunteers worked hard all morning collecting trash around the market place and along the side of the main road. By the end of the day, an impressive sixty-seven trash bags had been filled, commemorating Mandela's sixty-seven years of public service!


Plans are already underway to install bins in the village as the Oaks strives to be a positive example to other villages in the area!



Friday, 14 July 2017 10:13

Game Drive to Greater Kruger!


Every Friday, before the children leave, a 'winner of the week' is chosen based on how helpful, kind and polite they have been during their stay at DAKTARI. They are given a tree to plant and are rewarded with a game drive. 


Last weekend, the winners from the previous ten weeks went on their game drive to Balule Nature Reserve in Greater Kruger and were generously shown around by Tsakane Safari Co. On the game drive, they got to see numerous animals including a herd of nearly forty elephants! This was the first time they had ever seen these animals in the wild and were fascinated by the sheer size of them. They also saw giraffe, impala, kudu and zebra. 


As they drove through the reserve, the field ranger explained how he tracks animals using the sights and sounds of the bush and why it is important to conserve wildlife. This built upon the knowledge they gained during their stay at DAKTARI. 

At the end of the drive, the children were shown around a tented camp and got to talk to one of the game rangers about what it's like to live amongst lions and elephants! Thank you Tsakane for showing the children the magic of the bush and providing them with an unforgettable educational experience. 

Nathaniel with the dassie's

Eight years ago, Nathaniel came to DAKTARI as a child to take part in our environmental education program. Last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming him back as a volunteer! Nathaniel is currently in his third year of University in Johannesburg studying Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences and plans to pursue a career in conservation.  


It’s quite funny that I came here again because coming here for the second time really shows that DAKTARI is a place where most of the students, if not all, would like to come back at a later stage in their life.”


When Nathaniel first came to DAKTARI in Grade 8, it was a completely new experience for him. He’d never interacted with animals before and found it fascinating to be part of a community that respects and cares for wildlife. His week at DAKTARI made him very curious about the environment and his passion for nature and wildlife started to grow. Nathaniel decided to return to DAKTARI as a volunteer because it was here that he was first inspired to care for nature. During his two weeks working as a volunteer, he has been involved in teaching the education program as well as tending to the animals in our wildlife orphanage.


“What I have enjoyed most in my two weeks at DAKTARI is the educational program because I love to teach about the environment and I can tell the children are happy to be here”


Thank you for giving your time back to DAKTARI Nathaniel, we have loved having you here and we look forward to hearing about your progress in the future!   

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:39

Welcome Helene!

Helene and Micah Outreach managers

It is a bittersweet week here at DAKTARI. First, we need to say goodbye to Micah, our Outreach Manager since April 2016. During his time as the outreach manager, he built a truly amazing curriculum for the Eco Clubs at Maahlamele and Rakgolokwana. The new lessons are full of great information and provide lots of activities and fun for the kids. Each week, the kids come back and often they bring friends to join them! We are so excited to see how the Eco Clubs continue after his fantastic work.


We do have some good news, great news actually - we have a new Outreach Manager! Helene Colson has been here at DAKTARI for five weeks, learning all about the outreach program from Micah and teaching her first few Eco Clubs. Here is her welcome to you:


Dumelang everyone!

My name is Hélène, and I will be the new Micah (well, the new outreach manager). I am French, I am 25 and I used to work in an NGO as a legal advisor.


I’ve decided to come to South Africa because I really wanted to discover this beautiful country with amazing wildlife and landscapes.


DAKTARI is the perfect association for me, giving me the opportunity to put together environment and kids! Kids are the future of our planet and I think that it is important to stake everything on their education and on their ability to build great things.


And living in the middle of the bush is incredible! I love my morning cup of coffee watching our nyalas.


I am looking forward to achieving fun and helpful projects with the Eco-Clubs kids and the communities. And I will do my best to learn Sepedi thanks to the amazing teachers I have here in DAKTARI!


Welcome Helene!!!

Monday, 13 February 2017 17:11

Dassies, dassies everywhere!

Anyone who has been to DAKTARI or follows us regularly knows that we have a thing for dassies. With the successful release of our last dassies, Buddha and Lulu, there were no more dassies at camp!


Not to worry though, last week DAKTARI picked up seven more!

Three of the dassies were handraised in the nearby province of Mpumalanga. The caretakers were not able to keep the dassies any longer and asked if DAKTARI would take them. All of the dassies are fully grown and we are hoping to be able to release them soon. One of the dassies, however, is sick and we are busy caring for him. Will caring for sick dassie
Baby Dassie The other four dassies are small little babies that DAKTARI picked up from Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre. The mother of these dassies sadly died and now they require constant attention – something our volunteers are happy to help out with! The cute little dassies are settling in well. Again, we hope to release them when they are fully grown.

It’s never boring here at DAKTARI ☺
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 15:44

Squirrel Raising at DAKTARI

If you have ever volunteered at DAKTARI, there is a good chance you have helped us raise a baby tree squirrel. If not, you have most definitely met Compton, our tame, breakfast-stealing tree squirrel. It is become a major part of DAKTARI's program in the summer and we almost always have a squirrel in our care.

Since September 2016, DAKTARI has cared for seven different baby squirrels. Two have been released, two are still in care, and the other three sadly didn't make it. The squirrels are fragile and we always prefer to have the mother take him or her back. However, the mother will sometimes abandon the baby if she is too scared to retrieve it. This often happens when the squirrel nests are in the roofs of the chalets, dorms, or other structures at DAKTARI.
Children holding a baby squirrel
Volunteers feeding squirrel Caring for a baby squirrel involves feeding them 4-5 times per day, stimulating them so they pee and poo, ensuring that they are warm enough and have enough space in their enclosure, and changing their diet at the appropriate time so they can grow up to be released. Most times, a baby squirrel will have one main caretaker and other volunteers will help with feedings. The main caretaker has the privilege of naming the squirrel.

You too can become a squirrel mother (or father!). Join us at DAKTARI and help raise a little squirrel yourself!

Latest News