Nathalie, Fundraiser Manager at DAKTARI, since august 2014
Nathalie has been interviewed by Go Overseas, one of our online volunteers agency. Click here to visit our page on their website.
What position do you hold at DAKTARI and why do you like working there?
Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
What does the future hold for DAKTARI - any exciting new programs to share?
What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?
How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?
Gone but never forgotten.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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"
DAKTARI's challenge: Clean the Oaks Village!
You know it, DAKTARI's mission is to inspire and educate underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage. From Monday November 3rd to the 5th this mission was extended even further by going into the local community to educate the neighbouring village of The Oaks, in the first of many stepping-stones into becoming a clean, eco-friendly area. The Oaks is located 30 minutes from DAKTARI. We often do community projects with them, like the Home Stay or the Eco-Club, to help and develop the village.
DAKTARI volunteers came armed with bin bags, gloves and enthusiasm in their bundles! They teamed up with local residents, who volunteered their time also, in cleaning up the rubbish around the main market area and the sides of the road. Over the three days DAKTARI and the locals of The Oaks came together to pick up the rubbish and the residents were taught of the importance of keeping their village clean for future endeavors.
The founders of DAKTARI, Michele and Ian Merrifield, had meetings with the Chief of The Oaks and the Municipality prior to the event, which resulted in the Municipality organizing the rubbish collection and the promises to provide 20 new cement rubbish bins to be placed around The Oaks.
To continue the support of local businesses, DAKTARI volunteers immersed themselves even more into the DAKTARI community during their lunch break by dining at Mama’s Kitchen!
Thanks to the Oaks’ chief and the municipality for their great collaboration in making it possible!!
Are you looking for a Christmas Gift? We have the perfect present for you!
Make An Animal and/or a Child Happy and receive your Virtual Gifts!
DAKTARI needs your help to spread joy to disadvantaged animals and children! From November to January 2014, you can make a donation to an orphaned wild animal or an underprivileged child on behalf of a loved one. Do it by yourself or even better get your family together to make a contribution as a group. Indeed, our Virtual Gift concept does exactly that - rather than just asking for donations to cover the cost of an animal or a child at DAKTARI, we ask you to make a donation on behalf of someone else and we then send you a personalised gift certificate, a thank-you picture and a video to be given to this person. So, interested? (Find the details on the links below)
+ RECEIVE YOUR VIRTUAL GIFTS!
- There is a minimum donation amount of just $10
- The name of your gift recipient.
- Your name or the nickname you want to sign with.
- A personalised message?
- For the animals. Check out the video below to choose what animal you want to love and spoil for Christmas and let us know! :)
THANK YOU for supporting our lovely children and animals at DAKTARI! When these Virtual Gifts are continuously purchased, this allows us to keep the animals happy and educate South Africa's next generation to care and love their environment, their heritage, their future.
From the enclosure into the wild!
We have such a big and good announcement to let you know about!! We are so happy to inform you that we released our 11 Mongooses into the wild. Bandit, Munchkin, Nikita, Weasle, Nwana, Stoffles, Sidoney, Fernando, Mango, Groove and our little Erishka are now free again!! Another successful rehabilitation story by DAKTARI that we are very proud of.
General Facts and Flash Back on their story
General: The Banded Mongoose is a sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. The Banded Mongoose is not an endangered species, the development of agriculture in the continent has had a positive influence on their numbers as crops of the farmland serve as an extra food source.
Interesting Facts: Mongoose are highly social, living in packs of about a dozen, typically up to about 30. Packs sleep together and forage in loose groups, each mongoose obtaining its own food. Groups live in home ranges which may be territories, as meetings between groups are aggressive. Each home range contains several dens which are used in rotation for a few days at a time.
Personal Story: All the Mongooses arrived at DAKTARI one after another, with a different past. At the beginning we tried to put them all together but they fought a lot and we had to separate them in different enclosures. During a long time, we worked on a rehabilitation process, with the long term goal of releasing them into the wild. And... It was a success! After having 11 Mongooses living together and cohabiting very happily, we planned their release.
The release: 21th of October 2014. It was difficult for all the DAKTARI Team to say goodbye to all of these little Mongooses. We were used to having them and taking care of all of them for a long time! But we also know that this is the right thing to do for their hapiness. So we arrived in a neighbour reserve with the Mongooses at the back of the Bakkie and, "3, 2, 1... Open the door! Let's GO Mongooses, you are FREE!!" :)
What happened after opening the cage was a bit surprising...
Watch it in the following video!
Exploring the area... One of them even found food that he shared with the others!! This is a very good sign for the next step of their free life.
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!