THE WILDLIFE ORPHANAGE
The goal of DAKTARI’s Wildlife Orphanage is to have a safe place to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals. It has always been part of the vision of DAKTARI and has grown into an integral part of the education of the local children.
Why is the Wildlife Orphanage important for the education of children?
Most of the children that come to DAKTARI have never seen any of the Big 5 or any of the local wildlife. Indeed, due to poaching, the wildlife has been relocated to private and national reserves for their protection. Entrance into these reserves is too expensive for most of the local communities.
This is where DAKTARI comes in. First of all, we teach the children that they should not fear or hate their local wildlife. Then, we teach them that animals should be protected and respected. We also make them aware that the local wildlife creates jobs through tourism and animal care.
What do we want to achieve through our Wildlife Orphanage?
Our vision is to have a local community that is passionate about and protects the animals around them. And this is only possible with the wildlife orphanage. Indeed, without seeing the animals, touching them and caring for them, the children would not find their passion for animals and the environment. This is why the animals at our orphanage act as animal ambassador to protect the many other members of their species.
DAKTARI is home to dozens of animals that have no chance of being released into the wild. Indeed, some of them have been permanently injured, like our raptor birds that cannot fly. Others were hand-raised and are too tame to survive in the wild. Local people find them and bring them to us, or our partners Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, and local game reserves give them to us. They will live out their days at DAKTARI as animal ambassadors.
Although not a full rehabilitation centre, DAKTARI is often home to several animals that can be released. Most often, these animals come to us as abandoned babies. Therefore, we raise them and then release them on our farm or on a nearby reserve. For example, DAKTARI has successfully released three nyala, two porcupines, a buffalo, a waterbuck, a genet and many other incredible animals!
ANIMALS AS AMBASSADORS
Just seeing some of the animals in person and watching them is enough to spark interest and excitement for many of the children. However, there is so much more to do!
The animals in the orphanage are fully part of the environmental education program. For instance, there are lessons about poaching, animal facts and learning how to identify animals by their tracks.
Hands-on activities with the animals.
Twice a day, the children help volunteers and staff in cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals. Most importantly, the children also get the chance to interact with our most friendly residents during their free time.
Actively taking part in the animal care and learning about animals inspire the children to protect the wildlife. To sum up, it would be impossible to achieve our mission without the animals in our care.
UNUSUAL ANIMAL FRIENDSHIPS
From time to time some of our animals become friends. And those friendships aren’t always ones you’d expect. We recently discovered Inside Edition made an article about the unusual friendship between a Nyala we fostered and other animals at the camp. Watch the video below or read the whole article here if you want!