At first I want to say thank you to the people who made it possible for me to come to DAKTARI.
When I arrived in DAKTARI I was afraid about everything but with the time I realized that I found a little piece of heaven. I met so many interesting, different, and wonderful people from all over the world and I learnt a lot about animals.
DAKTARI changed my view on the world. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. In the beginning all the lessons and the stabling were too much for me and I wasn't used to this hot climate. So I struggled. But with the time I grew on the exercises. And in the end I was ready to hold all the lessons by myself.
It was great to see the kids growing. In the beginning they were so shy and didn't know so much about their world but after one week they were open to us and they learnt a lot. I think this project isn't just good for children, it is also good for the volunteers. They can see that different cultures can easily work together for the greater good. And as we saw it on the survey they learn a lot about their environment in this one week. The work with the kids and the animals helps the kids to not only learn about the animals but also, loose their fear of them.
So for me the time was running too quickly and it was a very great time. Overall, it was perfect.
Thank you Michele, Ian, Erika, Ernest, Manu, Toine, Marta, Natalie and Will.
And now I don't want to leave...
We are making an appeal for your support in helping us provide the best aid and care to all the beautiful animals that we have at DAKTARI. To continue making stories like this possible, help us by making a donation on the project linked to on the button below! To increase your impact exponentially, make a monthly donation! It is a gesture that makes a huge difference for us, but especially for the animals!
We have had a very busy winter (summer up north) and here is the Newsletter to tell you all about it! Read about the newest additions to our family as well as the expansion of our Outreach Program and the work that has come with it. From visits to the village, to the start of a new Eco-Club in more local schools, we think that we are moving in the right direction!
We are very excited to share it with you!
We changed the format slightly from what it used to be like, so please let us know what you think!
Check it out below!
It is finally here...
Measuring our Impact in the Village of the Oaks!
Only a few months to go and it will be DAKTARI’s tenth anniversary. 10 years of helping, supporting and inspiring local, underprivileged children. 10 years of taking care of injured and orphaned animals. 10 years of impact in the local communities. Over the past few weeks we worked hard on a questionnaire which will enable us to measure the actual impact we have made and are making in the lives of the people around us.
But let's be honest; impact is a bit of vague term that reflects a very important aspect of the work we do!
Besides measuring impact by asking questions like ‘do you know DAKTARI?’, ‘what does DAKTARI do?’ and ‘do you consider DAKTARI important for your village?’ we would like to seize the opportunity to also educate the local communities about relevant topics such as poaching, rubbish management and tourism. No sooner said than done and this resulted in a 46 question educative questionnaire, ready to be conducted in the village. We have decided to conduct the survey at the village of The Oaks, as DAKTARI carries out a weekly Eco Club. We are already very involved with the community after having done a number of 'big cleans' and establishing a 'Home-Stay' program with two local families for our volunteers to experience life in the village. Moreover, DAKTARI is an active member of the community as we take part in the town assembly, in addition to regular meetings with the village chief and his councillors.
We have wasted no time in starting to carry out these surveys and over the past two days we have been actively working in the village, going door-to-door to speak and listen to the people of The Oaks! It is only a first step in gathering as much data as we can, but it has already been a great experience, and we have already received encouraging feedback. We will be meeting more and more members of our community in the next few weeks and we are very excited to share the outcome of the survey with you!!
In August we welcomed a group of volunteers a little different from what we usually get. The Maurel Family came to visit DAKTARI and over the week they were with us they were nothing short of amazing! Even if the names of the children turned out impossible to say for the children (hence the nicknames in brackets!)! Below you can read the original testimonials from all the members of the family!
Fabrice and Cécile (Dad and Mum)
We lived an unforgettable experience at DAKTARI Bush School ! Our amazing hosts, Ian and Michele, and great volunteers were so kind with us ! Our entire family has been wonderfully well received (welcomed). Parents as children were immediately involved in all activities. To help with the education of great children and to take care for wild animals was an amazing and rewarding experience. We will never forget our hosts, all other volunteers, children and animals of DAKTARI Bush School. Thanks to all of you!
Marianne (Bobo), 14 years old
I spent only one week at DAKTARI, but it was so wonderful that I left in tears. Everything was perfect. We met very nice people who I will never forget. DAKTARI is just like South Africa: a beautiful place, unique in the world. That is why I want to thank all who were there and made this adventure amazing, especially Michele, Ian, Marta, Nathalie, Erica, Ernest, Manu, Toine, and also all the volunteers, Wellington, Thijs, Amy, Jodie, Julie, even Mirabelle and Nikita !
You can be sure that I will come back!
Baptiste (Baba), 12 years old
I had a brilliant time at DAKTARI : to take care of animals, meet other young people, walk in the bush, play cards and participate in daily tasks !
I feared not being authorised to participate in activities. But instead, I was busy all day with some great people and great animals. Thank you all !
Perrine (Bibi), 15 years old
I only spent one week at DAKTARI but if I could had made this experience last longer, I would have gladly done it ! We had a lot of fun with the other volunteers and children. The animals were just as amazing as the people. I really do hope I will come back one day !
Thank you to all of the members of the Maurel Family for being so amazing and sharing their experience with us! Hopefully we will see you again soon!!
A second chance at life!
Chancy came to DAKTARI after being found in a nearby farm from our local community. It is not unusual for baby antelopes to be left hidden in the bush by their mothers for extended periods of time. In order to prevent Chancy getting taken away from his mother, he was monitored for a few days to make sure whether the mother was around and would come back or not. After it became clear that the mother would not return, Chancy was picked up and brought to DAKTARI, as, without a source for nutrition at such a young age, he would have most likely not survived.
After three weeks with us, Chancy is growing bigger and stronger without any complications. He is being fed about every three hours and is even playing and building a friendship with the dogs! In particular with Nikita, who, after growing up with Piggy the Warthog, is used to inter-species friendships! They are playing as often as they can and Chancy has even wondered out from the protection of the antelope enclosure to explore the garden!
Chancy will stay with us at DAKTARI until he is old and strong enough to be released into the wild!
Chancy’s story reflects very well the impact that DAKTARI is aiming to make. On one hand, we want to change the mindset in the community towards valuing and taking care of the animals that they may come across. We do this by raising awareness and providing a safe place to bring abandoned or injured animals if they are found in the bush. Furthermore, these gestures by the community link in with our efforts to grant these animals with a second chance at life. Without this combined effort, we would not be able to give Chancy and many other animals throughout the years another opportunity at growing up or surviving injuries.
You can see how playful and healthy he is in the video below!
If you would like to contribute to the care of Chancy as well as that of all the other animals at DAKTARI, join our fundraising campaign on GlobalGiving and make a difference today!
We are happy to welcome Martin, an adult cheetah, to DAKTARI!
We are very excited to share with you the arrival of the newest member of our animal family!
Martin’s story is one that we are unfortunately too familiar with. He was rescued as a youngster alongside his brother after being kept in very bad conditions where they both heavily suffered. They were saved by the SPCA, yet Martin’s brother was not able to overcome his injuries and did not survive. After a short stay at the SPCA, the young cheetah was moved to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) where he recovered from his injuries.
Lente Roode, owner and founder of HESC, releasing Martin in his new home!
In addition to his recovery, Martin's life at the HESC has seen him actively take part in a number of their projects. He contributed to the cheetah population by playing an important role in their breeding program and successfully fathering three litters. This is not only an significant step towards maintaining and increasing the dwindling population of cheetahs in Africa (only 10,000 left!), but it has also been key in diversifying the gene pool at the HESC Cheetah Project.
As Martin is now old, losing his teeth and will never be able to be released back into the wild. The HESC accepted to donate Martin to DAKTARI where he will now be looked after by Ian and Michèle.
Martin will continue making a difference by providing an essential tool towards our mission of educating young underprivileged children about the environment. Being able to see one of Africa’s big cats in such close proximity provides another unique experience to appreciate the beauty of the local wildlife, be it big or small! Martin has a very spacious enclosure and we are making sure his privacy is respected.
As with many other animals which have come through DAKTARI, Martin is getting a second chance in life in a place where he will be cared for for the rest of his life.
"Martin, we are very honoured to have you at home and will make sure you have a majestic life."
If you would like to contribute to the care of Martin as well as that of all the other animals at DAKTARI, join our fundraising campaign on GlobalGiving!
GlobalGiving Photo Contest 2015
Why is this important for us?
Simply put, it is a great opportunity to win a substantial amount of money towards our project! Moreover, we believe that our community is strong enough to help us achieve it!
What will the money go towards?
The photo selected by GlobalGiving comes from our fundraiser to provide food and care for all the animals at the camp. $1,000 will make a huge difference in allowing us to provide the best food for the animals as well as for continuing with the general maintenance of the animal’s enclosures. We work our hardest to provide the animals at the DAKTARI camp with a second chance at life!
Putting the financial aspect aside, being able to care for these beautiful creatures is a key service for our educational program. The subject of the photo, Nikita and Piggy, are a prime example of how we try to incorporate wildlife into the daily lives of the children who come to visit us at DAKTARI. This constant exposure to animals which they would otherwise not have seen is an important step in ensuring that we make as much of an impact as possible to ensure that the way in which animals are viewed is altered throughout their stay.
Piggy alone has proven to be a success story, as she grew large and strong enough to successfully go back into the wild. The size of our farm was not large enough to release her here, so she was moved to a larger farm with less people where she has now transitioned from her life in captivity to going into the wild!
These two reasons show the impact that we are trying to make. On one hand, Piggy served her purpose by acting as an educational tool for hundreds of children who were able to get a new perspective on wildlife through interacting with her. On the other hand, through nurture and care from a very young age, Piggy was given a second chance at life due to coming to DAKTARI.
Maybe on the surface this picture just shows a cute warthog playing with a puppy, but the story behind it holds the essence of the impact which we strive to make at DAKTARI. I hope that you share this feeling too.
Please VOTE below and SHARE the picture to help us win the competition, continue spreading our message, and making a difference!
DAKTARI Outreach on the Road!
As the students of the high schools were enjoying their well-deserved holidays, that meant no Eco Club for 3 weeks. However, this is not a reason for us to sit back! That is why we decided to visit Mmakadi Crèche in The Oaks village. Accompanied by a lot of volunteers and some rabbits we had a great afternoon with the toddlers. We transformed their faces into beautiful animals, taught them how to pet rabbits and played a throw-the-rubbish-game. In the end, the children took the stage to sing their national anthem and an anti-poaching song. Yep, that’s right, not even 4 years old and they know their anthem… that is what we call dedication! In exchange for these wonderful performances, the volunteers sang our custom-made DAKTARI song using the animal names in Sepedi, the local language! ‘DAKTARI has diphôôfôlô (donkey), E-I-E-I-O…’
One of the volunteers, Gabi (USA), was kind enough to share with us a few words about her experience with these younger children! Read it below!
“I was fortunate enough to have been able to go to the crèche during my stay at DAKTARI. We went to face-paint the children and sing them a song that the outreach manager wrote that included animal names in Sepedi (the local language). It was beautiful to see how culturally enriched the children are at such a young age. They sang the South African National Anthem to us and also danced. They put on skirts made of cloth and danced around a chair while a woman sang and played the drums. The children were shy at first but then they opened up after we started face painting them. After one design on their cheek, they wanted one on the other cheek, then their hand. I drew hearts all over their arms and they loved it. They were of ages 2 and older. They were all so loving and warm. A little girl and I got into a tickle fight for 30 minutes! She and the rest of the children made my heart smile. They all made me forget the concept of time and simply enjoy the moment of being there."
Interested in donating to the Outreach Program? Visit our fundraiser here!
Fresh out the press!
Here is our newsletter for the past three months! With stories about the children and all the things that have been happening at the camp!
And some great stories from the progress we have made with some animals as well as the newest members of our wild family!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do and it gives you an insight into life here! If this does not satisfy your curiosity about what DAKTARI is all about, come visit us!
Thank you for your support and until next time!!
I know what you are thinking… how is this possible?!
Ask no more! DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage has partnered up with BookDifferent.com to make this a reality!
BookDifferent.com offers hotels all over the world at the lowest rates while actively making a difference through providing support to NGOs like ourselves as well as measuring the impact that your stay will make on the environment.
How do YOU make an impact?
BookDifferent.com donates 50% of the commission they charge to the hotels to the charity of your choice. That is how you can help DAKTARI by booking your next hotel! It comes at no extra cost to you, but this small gesture makes a huge difference to us!
To plan and book your next holiday, travel green, and ensure a donation to DAKTARI you must visit daktaribushschool.bookdifferent.com!
Check out the video below for a quick view of how it works!
"My stay at DAKTARI has been so rewarding. I particularly loved having the opportunity to teach. Not only do we educate children about the environment, we also show them how they have the ability to make a difference. The kids are wonderful and its been such a fulfilling experience to see how they improve throughout the week.
DAKTARI has such a welcoming atmosphere. It has been so great to meet other volunteers from around the world. My time here was short but full of exciting moments that I'll never forget."
Michelle just completed a degree in English and is moving on Teacher's College in Canada, where she is originally from. Thank you for your kind words Michelle, and hopefully we will see you again at DAKTARI!!
A freshly painted fruit stall building!
If you have been following DAKTARI for a while, you have probably noticed that we carry out various community projects in the local villages as part of our Outreach Programme. For example, we offered career guidance to matric students and business lessons to (potential) entrepreneurs; implemented a My Dog, My Friend campaign to create awareness for dog health care; our HomeStay project in which volunteers can stay the night in local families and currently we are busy with a rubbish management project. Besides this, we also run our Eco Clubs in two high schools as an extension of DAKTARI’s environmental education program.
A few weeks ago, EcoTraining, a local field guide training provider, approached us if we could help them finding ideas for a community project in the villages we work with. Of course we could… and so it happened! Circa twenty dedicated young volunteers transformed the initially rather boring fruit stall building into a stunning shopping place in the colors of the South African flag. Many villagers gathered around the building to see what was going on and a lot of them even helped with the painting works. This shows us again how amazing the community of The Oaks village is: warm, welcoming and really willing to make a change in and for their village.
A huge thank you to all volunteers of EcoTraining that contributed to achieve this beautiful and eye catching result! We bet one can now not resist stopping by in the village to buy some delicious fresh fruits, am I right? Above all, the community is very proud of their upgraded fruit building and cannot wait to welcome visitors to show them around in the market place and the village. That is what counts and where we do it for! Will you be the next visitor?