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Tuesday, 20 January 2015 10:15

Shiloweni, the spirit of DAKTARI

Gone but never forgotten. 

leopard in a tree at DAKTARI

It started off like any other Monday at DAKTARI, the children going around on a tour, animals being fed and cleaned, optimism in the air for the new adventures of the week that lay ahead. However, what was discovered on the 19th of January 2015, at around 13:00, would rock DAKTARI to its core.

" We would often go visit Shiloweni to see what he was doing, often we would find him patrolling his territory or more recently, up in his tree, taking cover from the heat. Today we were surprised to find him lying in the sun. He would normally have his tail moving or at least move his ears if we approached closer. This time, nothing. We immediately knew that something was wrong" said the two DAKTARI volunteers, Daniel and Anne-Sophie, that found Shiloweni's stiff and lifeless body laying in the grass.

       leopard has been bitten by a snake  leopard in the vet

Our leopard was then taken to local veterinary doctor, Peter Rodgers, who has played such an important role in the leopards’ life. He confirmed what we had already suspected, it was a snake bite that had taken the life of this majestic African beast. Even the might and power of this exquisite creature was no match for the deadly venom of a slithering serpent. There was evidence of a fight around his body, with blood and scratch marks present, probably with either a Snouted Cobra or the infamous Black Mamba. Dr. Rodgers then notified us that there has been many snake bite incidents reported in the last weeks. This one, we felt the most.

After the dust had settled, it was time to lay Shiloweni to rest. His grave was dug in the African Bush, which is where he belongs. It was an honour and privilege to be there as Ian, Michele, staff, volunteers and children payed their respects to this fallen giant. It was if a close friend had passed, and that's really what Shiloweni was, someone close to our hearts, a respected member of the family whose presence and majesty was not possible to ignore. He had played such a vital role in inspiring and motivating children and volunteers alike, to stop, and to take notice of the utter preciousness that surrounds all of us. To acknowledge how fragile life can be. Stop, breath, and contemplate this for a moment.

But with every end comes new beginnings, with every heart ache comes hope. Without a doubt, from the rubble of our broken hearts, something fresh and new will emerge from this tragic story.

Shiloweni encapsulated the spirit of what DAKTARI is about, his spirit will live on forever. This evening as the red sunsets, no matter where you find yourself in the world, you can still hear his mighty roar in your hearts.

      leopard skin  leopard paw

Check out our final adventures of 2014!

Flash back from the last 3 months at DAKTARI in 2014! In this Newsletter:

  • You will fall in love with our cutest baby animals!
  • You will cry when seeing the release of some of our animals!
  • You will feel as if you were present in our community project!
  • You will completely melt for the children smiles!

In fact, this newsletter is just lots of emotion, joy, sun and new adventures! What does 2015 have in store? :)

Click on the slide below and enjoy the reading, pictures and videos! 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015 14:21


A new printer in the office!

DAKTARI would like to say a huge THANK YOU to SINDOH Africa! They sponsored us with a multifunctional printer for the needs of the office. They also sponsored the ink which allow us to print the kids lessons when necessary or other administratives papers. Thank you for equipping our office like you did!!

Sindoh is the number one Printer brand in Korea, established in 1960 and responsible for the manufacturing of many major printer brands globally.

Please visit their website: 

baby rottweiler on a sSindoh printer

Monday, 05 January 2015 10:31


Piggy Piggy!!

General: The warthog is part of the pig family and lives in the African savannahs. They are recognised by the tusks (canine teeth), used for digging and defence. They are omnivores and adapt to all diets. Most common predators are lions, leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. Warthog are a social species; females live in groups with their youngsters, but males leave the group once reached the adult age. Unfortunately warthogs are poached for their tusks, used in the ivory trade. The lifespan in the wild is of about 15 years, with the chance of doubling that in captivity.

Interesting Facts: Males are bigger in size than females, and can reach the 150 kg!! Just like elephants their tusks never stop growing. The upper pair of tusks can grow up to 25 cm. Warthogs have very poor vision, but they use their sense of smell and earing to alarm predators and danger.

     baby warthog at DAKTARI  volunteer feeding orphaned baby warthog  child feeding baby warthog

Personal Story: Piggy-Piggy arrived at DAKTARI with her two sisters on the 15th of November 2014, when she was just 2 weeks old and weighted 600 gr. The trio was found roaming alone in a private reserve for few days, so the people concerned for them decided to take them and give them food, as the mother was probably not around anymore. We took great care of them, but unfortunately two of them were weaker and didn’t make it. Piggy-Piggy had showed a cheeky and sweet character since she arrived, and she brings joy to all the staff at DAKTARI. She loves being around volunteers and staff, and she comes when called, which made us decide to keep calling her Piggy-Piggy. She is almost two months old now, and we are looking forward to release her when she will be strong enough to survive by herself.

Would you like to sponsor Piggy Piggy, our Warthog?

Please email us at 

Thursday, 20 November 2014 13:16


Laura Nardini, DAKTARI Volunteer 11/10/2014 - 15/11/2014

"I spent 5 weeks at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage, an amazing program that allows volunteers to work with local children as much as wild animals. The perfect mix! Not only you teach the children about saving environment, animals and other matters, but you also learn about them and their way of life which is quite different from ours. It's very enriching, and I would say that you learn from them as much as they learn from you. You also work and live among the animals, and the arrival of a new one is always very exciting!

Volunteers also have the possibility to meet local people from the neighbor village, by spending a night within a family. A unique experience I highly recommend...

DAKTARI is a family size program. The day of your arrival you immediately meet all the people that work here, including the founders, and you quickly feel like at home. The relationship with other volunteers is great because everybody is very willing to help, and you can meet people of every ages and from every places of the world.

Finally, when you are volunteer at DAKTARI, I would say that you feel very useful and it is an experience you will never forget"

Monday, 20 October 2014 09:24

Corinne Le Greves

Bonjour à tous!

Après avoir vu le documentaire TV sur DAKTARI et être tombé par hasard sur le site internet quelques mois plus tard, j’ai décidé de contacter DAKTARI et de m’inscrire pour 1 mois d’eco-volontariat!! La réponse fut positive…

J’ai 61 ans, sportive et assez garçon manqué, veuve depuis 2 ans vivant seule et... je m'ennuie a mourir! Je m'envole donc pour Johannesburg. Après 6 heures de bus pour arriver à Hoedspruit, là m’attend le rangers Ian, qui me récupère avec d'autres volontaires. Une autre heure de route et de piste pour arriver au camp, accueil chaleureux, on s'installe et le lundi, levez 6 heures, on attaque!! Je m’aperçois vite que les journées sont biens remplies, avec un planning précis décidé entre les volontaires la veille au soir. Au programme: s'occuper des animaux, nettoyer les cages, préparer et distribuer la nourriture, donner les cours en anglais aux enfants… L’anglais est leur deuxième langue donc ce n’est pas toujours évident et il faut parfois s’armer de patience pour leur expliquer la leçon. Un autre point important: Préparer les cours en avance! C’est une bonne chose à faire quand, comme pour moi, parler anglais toute la journée n’est pas facile et que cela demande beaucoup de concentration et d’énergie. Il était bon de se reposer après de telles journées! De plus je suis entourée de jeunes de 20 à 40 ans de tous les coins du monde, il y a une super ambiance et tout le monde participe!

Quoi d’autres? On mange super bien, on se lave parfois à l'eau froide, l’électricité c’est que le matin et n’oubliez pas vos lampes de poche! Un petit détail important que j'ai particulièrement apprécié, les femmes de ménage passent tous les jours dans la chambre et la salle d’eau, prennent notre linge sale et nous le repose le lendemain lavé et repassé! C' est une expérience très enrichissante, on apprend pleins de choses, on rencontre des gens du quatre coins du monde.

Aux questions que l'on me pose: "mais tu payes pour faire cela?!" "Oui je paye! On paye notre pension et on fait un don pour les enfants et les animaux, c'est comme cela que le camp arrive a tenir!” Pour moi c'est une manière de découvrir le pays et sa population, le week-end on fait des excursions on essaye de s'impliquer plutôt que de se regarder le nombril, on est tous dans le même état d'esprit, on s’entraide... Les filles venaient me voir pour me demander des conseils à la fin et en plus on se marre, vous ne pouvez pas vous imaginer. Et du coup cela m'a fait rebondir, je repars pendant un mois faire un périple dans les pays d'Afrique du Sud, Namibie, Botswana, Zambie, Zimbabwe, cela m'a donné des ailes et j'ai pu montrer de quoi je suis capable. L'année prochaine je pars au Cambodge en mission pendant 2 mois.

Merci à Michelle, à son mari Ian et à son équipe, vous êtes toujours dans mes pensées!


Wednesday, 10 September 2014 15:57

Maxime Fradin

Maxime Fradin - DAKTARI Volunteer 09/08/2014 - 29/08/2014

"Ce voyage restera à jamais gravé dans ma mémoire et mon coeur tellement l'Afrique du Sud est un pays merveilleux sur tous les points et que vous nous le faite découvrir de la plus belle des façons! Avoir des employés locaux permet aux volontaires d'être en contact avec la population et donc de découvrir leurs bons comme leurs mauvais côtés...

Ensuite les paysages, DAKTARI est placé entre montagnes, bush, et coins plus tropicaux grâce aux rivières avoisinantes. DAKTARI, crazy DAKTARI, est à la hauteur de ce que j'attendais par l'école et l'orphelinat mais aussi par vous, Ian et Michèle, qui êtes des personnes formidables. Vous n'hésitez pas à ouvrir grand vos bras afin qu'on découvre votre paradis! De votre humour à votre expérience en passant par votre générosité tout est à prendre et à s'en servir comme leçon de vie. Ne changez pas, vous rendez cette expérience sud africaine encore plus émouvante qu'elle ne l'est déjà!

Je vous souhaite une bonne continuation sur cette lancée, n'arrêtez surtout pas de rendre meilleure la vie des jeunes locaux et des animaux, mais aussi des volontaires! J'espère que ce n'était pas un adieu et qu'on aura l'occasion de se revoir par la suite.

Maxime Fradin alias Rafiki"


Thursday, 10 July 2014 16:17

Anne Klein

Anne Klein - DAKTARI Volunteer 15/02/2014 - 28/03/2014

"Dear Michele and Ian,

About 3 months have passed since Dasha and I had to leave and flicking through my huge bunch of pictures recently, I felt like I had to write you and say hello.

I am still incredibly grateful for every single moment I spent in South Africa, for every single laugh we had and every person I met (including you two insanely great people!!). While at DAKTARI I often thought "Man, I really want to remember every single bit of this" and I was afraid I wouldn't manage to. But now, looking back on everything from a distance, I feel that I actually do. I remember the smell of the bird bath after the porcupines jumped in and the sounds of the lovely ostriches. I remember Shiloweni's heavy breathing, Jacob's childishness, cheeky Cachou's bites and Mirabelles excited pre-dogwalk barking. I remember loud kids, lovely kids, annoying kids, grateful kids, "little shit" kids and kids that are enthusiastic about new things as no-one else can be. I remember waking up to water dripping on my face in the night, and monkeys running over the roof in the morning. I do remember Candy's singing, Hyenas' calling, bumpy rides in the back of the bucki, zebra rescues and a hundred other "hurry up"s. I think of the silence and beauty of a sunset on Leopard Rock, and of falling asleep to the sound of nearby lions. I remember your dirty jokes (and mind), Ian, your wonderfully infectious laugh, Michele, and I remember thinking that I probably never met people like you before, with hearts as big and minds as open as yours. All these things I remember so vividly, that looking at the pictures of the camp (including the one you find attached) I actually feel homesick. And you two are the ones to blame. Thank you for letting us participate in your life, for making us feel so at home in a place so far away from home. And thank you for everything you taught us - about ourselves, about life, about the wild (I really feel like a little ranger, when I watch Africa documentaries!!), about how to be a good person. I never had such a good time learning so much.

I do still miss you dearly (and I think Dasha does too) and am already saving up for the next trip.

See you very soon, you crazy, lovely, big-hearted, open-minded, funny, ambitious, perfect people!

Lots of love from Germany,


Friday, 09 May 2014 15:09

Dineo's Promises

And the winner is...

This week at DAKTARI: We had a great group of kids! They learnt about the importance of environment, the rubbish problem and how they can solve it, they learnt about job opportunities, life skills, social issues and they enjoyed to take care of the animals at DAKTARI. We hope that DAKTARI will allow them to eventually be able to secure good employment in nature reserves, thereby improving their future quality of life.


Every week the best kid the best kid is the winner. Today it is the lovely Dineo Maria, 15 years old, from Lepono School who deserves the price because she is the one who improved the most during these 5 days. Thus, she leaves DAKATRI with a tree, a bag with some presents and will be invited for a Game Drive offered by Tshukudu Game Lodge. Well Done Dineo!

 On her certificate, she wrote 6 promises that she will share with her family and comunity:

  1. I promise I will take care of animaIs
  2. I Promise I will recycle for the environment
  3. I promise I will not allow poachers in the environment
  4. I promise I will never be a bad or lazy student
  5. I promise I will tell people to stop crimes and rape
  6. I promise I will never try to drink alcohol or take drugs