Find out what's going on at DAKTARI

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Wednesday, 02 November 2016 13:34

New DAKTARI record! 28 Volunteers in one week!

toerboer group photo

On October 16th, DAKTARI welcomed its largest group of volunteers ever. A South African based travel company, Toerboer, brought 28 volunteers to work at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage. The group, made up of volunteers from Canada, the U.S., and South Africa, was split in half and each group shared the responsibilities of teaching the children at DAKTARI and completing community projects.


During their 6-day stay, the volunteers successfully completed a teaching week at DAKTARI and also planted 60 trees at four different secondary schools! It was a very rewarding experience for DAKTARI and for Toerboer’s volunteers. All 28 volunteers left with tears in their eyes, hoping to return soon!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 21:50

DAKTARI in the Swiss News - Thanks Meret!

Meret in a group photo

DAKTARI volunteer, Meret Hartmann, was with us for 5 weeks in August of this year. When she got home, she got to work! Meret wrote a wonderful article in the Swiss magazine, Willisauer Bote. She shared the article and the English translation with us...


Another World at the End of the World

by Meret Hartmann

Pfaffnau / South Africa


Meret Hartmann volunteered in the South African Bush for five weeks. She talks about her work as a teacher, zookeeper, intermediator and playmate for a monkey at Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage.


It is an indescribable feeling of nervous eagerness I get when boarding a plane to a new travel adventure. This summer, my wanderlust brought me to South Africa, a country of two different faces. They are easily distinguished on the way from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit; from the vibrant city with six-lane highways to the rocky provincial streets bordering the famous Kruger National Park.


Final Destination: Bush

A small shuttle bus brought me from sleepless Johannesburg, where neither woman nor man dare to walk alone at night, into a world that belongs to wild animals. Surrounded by a vast expanse of dry trees lies Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage; my destination.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016 14:36

Power! DAKTARI's new solar power system

In September, DAKTARI used your donations to purchase a new solar power system, including new solar panels and batteries. A big thank you to our long-time partner and friends, Deltec Power and Ikhanya Mahala for being such great partners and donating your time and expertise: http://www.deltecpower.co.za/ Solar Panel Installation With the new system, DAKTARI will be less reliant on generator power during the day. This means we will be greener and have a smaller carbon footprint. Also, we have more power stored in the batteries, which is VERY good news for our volunteers. We have 24/7 power access for charging electronics in the chalets - no more early morning fights in the bar over charging space! Even better, there are now ceiling fans in three of the four chalets. The fans will make it cooler during the summer for sleeping and keep away those pesky mosquitos. We can also play movies on a big projector screen for the kids, which makes the Wednesday night Lion King showing an even bigger treat for them. Eventually, we will also be able to replace some of the older appliances we have with newer models that are cheaper overall and more effective because they run on a different type of power than our existing ones. One of the biggest benefits of the new system is that the batteries should last at least twice as long as the old batteries that we had. This saves DAKTARI money and reduces our footprint even more. Everyone at camp is very, very excited about the changes and grateful for the help from Branden, Brian, Tessa, and the rest of their amazing team! solar batteriesFan in the Chalet
Our family of 4 has returned from our volunteer time at Daktari... and we miss you and all the animals!

We still laugh about finding blind Eeyore outside of the camp, miss Thor your monkey stealing our food and Boy, the bird taking a liking to Alex (15) and attacking him nonstop from behind....

Our goal  of exposing our French-American teenage sons (17, 15) to the "real" South African bush with its children and animals, was exceeded on all levels: it allowed a complete disconnect with our fast-paced school and work lives. In fact, one week was too short, one month would have been even better!
The community feeling at Daktari, the insights learned from caring for wild or injured animals are powerful. The opportunity to teach local children and then accompany them to the "back stage" of a Safari Lodge (hotel)" showed us how lucky we were not to only see one side, the "touristy South Africa".  Accompanying your Outreach Manager to the local schools and exchanging with the Young Eco-Club members who proudly showed the trees they had proactively planted at their school, confirms that your concept "Education drives Environmental protection!" works. 

We all returned, vocal proponents of this type of humanitarian vacation! What we gave in terms of our time and energy to teach teenagers in English, was returned 1000 times to us with the insights we gained from the local staff, the Children, the animals and the staff.
Saturday, 17 September 2016 11:54

Sophie Butler - Volunteer in August 2016

A few friends had travelled abroad and it looked like a lot of fun, and I was always incredibly jealous seeing their pictures when they got back! As it was my first time travelling solo, I decided that a volunteering project would be the best way to get out there, whilst not being completely alone.

 

I had looked at a lot of programs on many different websites. In the end, I chose the project at Daktari Bush School in South Africa as it involved teaching local children whilst also looking after animals - I was sure it would keep me busy! As a primary school teacher, I love working with children and thought that this would be a brilliant opportunity to not only make a difference for these children, but improve my own teaching in a situation completely different to the one I am used to in England.

Sophie with Boy the Bird

I was a little nervous when I first arrived as this was my first time travelling solo, but I soon realised I had no reason to be! Ian was there at the airport to greet myself and another volunteer, and he immediately made us feel welcome. He even stopped the car a few times on the way back to show us the giraffes and other animals! Arriving at Daktari, the warm welcome continued and it seemed like Ian and Michele had created a proper little Daktari family. After settling in, we were invited to join the other volunteers on an overnight safari, organised by Greg, which was such a fantastic experience and allowed me to bond with the other volunteers before the children arrived, and get a real taste of Africa.

At the start of both weeks, the children were so shy and quiet, but it was fantastic to see them growing in confidence and knowledge as the week progressed. By the time Thursday rolled around, we were all toasting marshmallows on the bonfire, with the children teaching us different songs, chants and dances.
Sophie with DAKTARI kids
Sophie teaching a class
The teaching programme at Daktari covered so many areas in such a short space of time, but it managed to do it in a way that kept the children engaged and motivated. As volunteers, we were encouraged to improve the lessons, so we worked on the existing knowledge hunt lesson to create a challenging scavenger hunt. The children got incredibly competitive running around the camp looking for the clues, and it was great to see them helping the other children in their team.

I was also given the opportunity to visit a local crèche as part of Daktari’s outreach programme and teach a lesson to the 3-4 year olds. It was a real eye opener, and such a contrast from my school back in England.

I think the thing that makes Daktari unique is the combination of working with children and animals. I was drawn to this project as very few others give this opportunity. As a volunteer, you have a real impact on the children by teaching them about job opportunities, tourism, their environment, how to look after the animals and social issues such as substance abuse. After a long week of teaching, you then have the chance to cuddle up to the meerkats at the camp, go on a Big 5 safari in the nearby Kruger park or go bungee jumping off of Blyde river canyon. It was just such a fantastic project!

All in all, I have had such a fantastic experience at Daktari, and my only regret was that it didn’t last longer! It’s incredible what Ian and Michele have achieved at Daktari in 10 years, and it’s clear the impact it has on the children, animals, local communities, and the volunteers who visit. I cannot recommend it enough, and I hope very much to visit again in the not too distant future!

 

Saturday, 17 September 2016 03:34

John Stanton - Volunteer in May-June 2016

My summer at DAKTARI primarily consisted of teaching local children and working with orphaned African wildlife. Working with local children proved to be the largest interaction while working at DAKTARI as students would come for five days a week and we would work with them from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. each day. We would teach the students different subjects related to the environment and eco-tourism with some lessons touching on making South Africa a better place, safe sex, respect, and substance abuse.

 

The schedule for working with the children was very similar to that of an educational summer camp, and also involved the children and volunteers with the care taking of  animals kept within enclosures around DAKTARI's camp. Taking care of the animals consisted of cleaning their enclosures and feeding and watering them every day. 

 

John with the kids

At times, volunteers created projects to enhance the animal enclosures and would work on those projects when students were not at DAKTARI. 

 

There were also opportunities for volunteers to go on excursions during the weekends, where every Saturday volunteers could go into town or go on other excursions such as hot air balloon tours, trips to Kruger National Park and to different wildlife centers around Hoedspruit.

 

I had a wonderful time and would recommend looking into DAKTARI as a possible volunteering opportunity. Be prepared to work, as it can be a demanding and tiring job at times. While I worked at DAKTARI some issues arose between volunteers and managerial staff where views did not align at times, and jokes could be off-color, but the long term volunteers were great to discuss these issues with. DAKTARI gave me a wonderful, life changing experience and really opened my eyes to the world outside of the United States. I could have never predicted what the experience was like and the African bush was truly breath-taking.

 

I greatly enjoyed working with the local children, they were very fun to teach and to play games around the camp with. I enjoyed working with all of the other volunteers and I am so glad that I met all of the long term volunteers, all of which are wonderful people and great company around a dinner table. I hope DAKTARI continues to touch the lives of the locals and to make a difference in how the environment is perceived in Africa.  

 

 

Black Mambas and Bushbabies at DAKTARI

It's not what you might be thinking...

Thankfully, the Black Mambas that visited DAKTARI last week are not snakes, but anti-poachers and the "Bushbabies" are kids in their conservation education program.

The Black Mambas are a group of anti-poachers that have been trained in Hoedspruit. All of them come from a disadvantaged community. Since 2013, they have destroyed more than 10 poacher camps and 3 bushmeat kitchens. Snaring and poisoning has been reduced by 76% in the areas they patrol. Amazing work! The Bushbaby program is fairly similar to DAKTARI's program. It works well with the existing curriculum that the children receive at school and it provides extra teaching in environmental topics. As an added bonus, it's always a lot of fun for the kids who get to go on field trips and interact with animals!

It was great being able to welcome both groups for a tour of DAKTARI and answer their great questions about our wildlife orphanage. We hope to have another inspiring group come to visit us again soon!

Thursday, 23 June 2016 01:26

THANK YOU for an amazing Bonus Day!

Bonus Day Thank you banner

DAKTARI is so thankful for all of the support we received during the June 15, 2016 Bonus Day on GlobalGiving UK. We received more than £15,000 in donations, matching, and prizes thanks to our amazing donors!


We were so thrilled to also be awarded the top prize for the most funds raised on that day on GlobalGiving UK and for having the most donors on that day as well – prizes totaling £1,300.


These funds will be used towards DAKTARI’s teaching program. The children coming to stay with us will have delicious meals, new school supplies, and warm beds to fall into after an exciting day at DAKTARI.


DAKTARI would not be here without your continued support throughout the past 10 years. THANK YOU!

Want to volunteer at DAKTARI and see these babies up close? Take a look!

1. Our baby nyala hoping to get a yummy banana peel

Baby Nyala


2. Teeny tiny bunnies taking a quick nap

Cute baby rabbits