Exciting news at DAKTARI this week as we released six of our banded mongooses into the wild: Smurfie, Mongo, Sissi and her three babies.
Banded mongooses are native to Africa and are famed on their ability to kill snakes. Unlike many mongoose species, banded mongooses are highly social and live in troops of five to thirty animals. Smurfie, Sissi and Mongo were all brought to DAKTARI individually in 2015 and 2016. As the mongooses were unfamiliar with one another, we kept them in the same enclosure for over a year so they could bond and eventually form an established troop. Early this year, Sissi had three babies which meant three soon became six, an ideal number for a mongoose troop. We waited for the babies to grow and gain strength before eventually deciding on a release date.
The pack was released in an isolated part of DAKTARI's reserve, away from the camp. It was great to see them run to freedom and we hope they will do well in the wild! In the meantime we are left with Jackson, who was unable to be released as he continued to fight with the other mongooses and Rex and Tootie, who are still babies.
Click here to see the full footage of their release!
We are very happy to welcome Valerie, our new Giant Eagle Owl, to the DAKTARI family! Valerie was hit by a car and taken to a rehabilitation centre in the Phalaborwa region.
She had quite severe injuries and unfortunately this meant she had to have her wing amputated. Luckily Valerie was under the great care of Provet Wildlife Services so the operation went well. She stayed at the vet recovering for a week before eventually being transferred to DAKTARI.
She is now settled into her new enclosure with our other Giant Eagle Owl Coco, who is very happy to have a new friend!
Although she won’t be able to be released into the wild we are sure she will have a happy life at DAKTARI acting as an important animal ambassador to the children!
Maxi is a female bushbuck who was brought to DAKTARI in 2008 after suffering severe injuries caused by a dog attack. She was hand raised here and has gone on to raise several young of her own in the wild. A few months ago, we noticed Maxi was pregnant again and low and behold she has had another baby! Unlike her previous offspring, there is something very special about this baby: it's a cross between a bushbuck and a nyala, something very rare!
The bushbuck and nyala are both antelope species found in Southern Africa. Although the bushbuck is a close relative of the nyala, they have distinctively different appearances. Bushbuck are chestnut to dark-brown antelope with faint white lines and spots on their flanks. Unlike nyala, they do not have a white band between their eyes and instead have two white patches on their throat. The appearance of nyala greatly differs between males and females. Males are much bigger and have a slate-brown coat that is marked with white vertical stripes. Females are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.
Maxi's baby, the nyabuck, is lighter in colour than her and has prominent white stripes on its body like a nyala. However, it has no white stripes between its eyes and instead has two white patches on its throat like a bushbuck. We look forward to reporting on the appearance and health of our nyabuck as it grows up!
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!
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.|
|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 ☺
|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.
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!
A heartwarming story about the relationship between Anne and her Mongoose!
We often get injured animals coming to DAKTARI. The team of volunteers as a whole coordinates to make sure the animals are looked after and cared for if they are injured or need special assistance.
When Pilou arrived in late February she was taken in by the group of volunteers and nursed into a healthy baby mongoose. We found out that she was partially blind, possibly explaining why her mother left her. Slowly but surely we introduced her into her own enclosure next to Jackson and Leon, our two male, adult mongoose.
As time went on, she grew up and developed her adult fur, giving the general impression that she was growing up healthily. We later introduced her to another young female mongoose, Sonic. Due to her gentle nature and Sonic’s more instinctive and wild character, the relationship was not easy because of the imbalance of strength between the two. We tried to ensure that Pilou still ate, yet it became difficult to monitor as they were living together. In early May, on a cold Wednesday morning, Pilou was found during stabling under a tire in her enclosure, cold and barely breathing.
We quickly reacted, taking her into care and warming her up. Due to her weak state, Michele asked the volunteers if they could stay with her all day to monitor her health. Anne, one of our dutch volunteers, jumped at the opportunity, beginning what has turned out to be beautiful relationship between Pilou and her.
Over the course of the following weeks, the pair have become inseparable. Anne has become Pilou’s surrogate mother, constantly keeping her by her side or even within her sweatshirt’s sleeves! Anne prepares all the food for her every day to ensure that she is eating properly and she is hydrated. She loves to eat scrambled eggs, sausages, cucumber and pawpaw, but Anne says that she is a very messy eater!
The two can often be found sitting together on the couch while Anne is not doing lessons. Their relationship never takes breaks, as they even sleep next to each other! Moreover, because of both of their friendly natures, the children often interact with Pilou, providing a very enriching experience and one very many children enjoy.
Unfortunately, due to her nature, it is unlikely that Pilou will ever go back into the wild, but for the time being, her close relationship with Anne will nurture her to get strong and healthy again. We strongly believe that Anne’s positive energy saved Pilou’s life!
Yesterday we released Piggy Piggy back into the wild.
Needless to say, spirits have been rather low around the camp today. Our baby warthog Piggy was set free into the wild yesterday. We have been on the edge of our seats waiting for her to try and sneak into the office, or jump on the couch to play with Nikita. We then realise that she is not around any more!
After coming to DAKTARI nearly seven months ago in a very frail state of health, Piggy grew up around the camp into a big and healthy warthog. She was sometimes naughty and liked to eat the food of the other animals, as well as occasionally going into volunteer's rooms to roam around for more food. But beyond her sometimes annoying territorial behaviour on the couch, Piggy touched us all both physically and emotionally.
She is now big enough to go back into the bush and fend for herself. Although yesterday was a very sad day because of having to let go of her, Piggy's release is something to celebrate as she is going back to where she should be!
Goodbye Piggy! We hope to see her soon with her new family of warthogs!
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