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.
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.
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!
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!
1. Our baby nyala hoping to get a yummy banana peel
2. Teeny tiny bunnies taking a quick nap
The past two months have been very busy! Animal releases, new staff, community work, and work placements - our team has been very busy! From now on, we'll be updating you once per month to keep up with all of the news from DAKTARI.
Want more details about what DAKTARI has been up to? Read the newsletter below:
DAKTARI works hard to make sure the animals that come to us can have the best life possible. Sometimes, that means we need to keep them at the farm, but other times, we can release them back into the wild. See who was released in April!
The first newsletter of the year !
We had a great end to 2015, but the start to 2016 has been just as good... if not better! We have a lot of news concerning the start of the year for both the children and the animals! New additions, great experiences and a lot more to share with you, so let's get to it!
Most of the animals we welcome at DAKTARI come either due to injury or because they were injured and will not likely survive in the wild. Out of the animals which we welcomed these past few months, Carlito the Bushbaby, two of the jackals and the three mongoose were all found alone as babies!
|I had just retired and decided to travel to South Africa to begin my new life of "giving back." When my husband and I (both in our early sixties) arrived at Daktari our first activity was after dinner -- the baby dassies needed their evening bottles. I fed the furry little creature, then she crawled onto my neck and went to sleep. Believe me -- it was more relaxing than any spa treatment I have ever experienced. So began our wonderful 2 week adventure at Daktari. We feed and cuddled the dassies every morning and evening, met the cheetah, held brand new baby mice, petted the jackal and laughed with Eeyore the donkey. We also worked hard stabling and feeding the animals. That was the animal orphanage part of Daktari. The Bush School part was just as rewarding. Who knew my husband could command such attention in the classroom - the kids really listened to him. We had the opportunity to talk about politeness, respect, the environment and the economic and humanitarian importance of protecting the animals in South Africa. I loved every minute. Everything was wonderful -- from my first email inquiry until the day we left. We plan to go back. Animals and kids in the African bush. What could be better than that?|
Say hello to the new member of our Office Team!
In January we welcomed Patience to DAKTARI! She was one of the local alumni who went through our alternative teaching program for post-matric students. We are very happy to have her with us and look forward to all the great things which she will do with us! Below you can read a little bit more about her... from her!
My name is Patience Ananda Moripa and I'm twenty years old. I currently work as an Environmental Monitor (EM) at DAKTARI.
I first came here as a student with other young adults who were invited to DAKTARI because we had finished high school and passed Matric, and were going to follow a career guidance program (alternative teaching program). At DAKTARI we were told that there was a position as Environmental Monitor (EM) open, and that we should write a convincing letter of motivation to apply for the job. With luck, I was the one who was chosen! As an EM I teach children with the help of the international volunteers and I also assist the Animal and Outreach Managers and the outreach manager with anything they may need. This experience has taught me to be patient and confident in myself and to able to work with people from all over the world.
This is an great opportunity to gain experience as I wish to build my future and study become and business woman in the future.
So far it has been such a great experience and I love being able to share it with all the volunteers who come from around the world.
Maybe see you soon!
The last Newsletter of 2015... and what a year it has been!
The end of 2015 brought new animals, work in the village and a lot of educational fun for the children! From visits to the village, to the establishment of the new Eco-Club program the local creches, planting trees as well as taking the kids on game drives and to Moholoholo, this final months of the year have been super packed with an incredible time! Thank you for being a part of it through your support and your interest in what we do! We are looking forward to 2016 and to share it with you!
Read the last newsletter of the year below! And share it to spread the word about DAKTARI!What an end to 2015! - DAKTARI Newsletter
A couple of years ago, I watched a documentary on the French television about DAKTARI Bush School.
I had been thinking for a while to do something different during my holidays, and this year was the year!
I have had the chance to spend 3 weeks at DAKTARI and take part in the Alternative Teaching Program, as we welcomed older students from the nearby community.
Very fast I was asked to lead a class and, although I did not have a teaching experience, the fact that I am in my mid-forties (with a bit more work and life experience than the other volunteers) was an advantage as I could share my own experiences.
Throughout the week, we helped the students writing a CV, creating a cover letter, practicing job interviews. We talked about the job opportunities in the tourism industry as, surprisingly, they actually don’t know much about them, as most of the students are not in contact with the tourists visiting South Africa. The visit to the nearby Big Five reserve was one of the highlights of my stay. Not only did we have the chance to see a leopard on our way, the students had the opportunity to talk to some of the managers of the reserve who explained their daily tasks and how they got there. It was very motivating! We visited the workshop, the kitchen, housekeeping and we also talked to the camp manager.
Back at DAKTARI, we worked with the students on their presentation and debating skills. We had a lot of fun during the debate on ‘Girls are better students than boys’, where the boys had to defend the statement and the girls had to disagree! The other debate we had fun with was on ‘Marriage to more than one person should be legal’. During the practice, the students came with strong opinions to express their agreement or disagreement.
The rest of the week, we stuck to the normal teaching program. We talked about Plastics and the environment, and I even learned a few things! This is why I love being part of a community with volunteers coming from all horizons, having different backgrounds and coming from all over the world. You learn so much!
We tried to illustrate as much as possible the class, using for example the video of the Harley Davidson that was washed away by the tsunami in Japan and found more than a year later on a beach in Canada, to explain how far plastic or rubbish can travel in the ocean.
Also we made drawings to explain the different cycles (breathing, water, life) and the consequences if something went wrong. If the local community doesn’t take care of the animals and the environment, tourists will no longer go to South Africa, reducing job opportunities in their area but it might also impact my job in Belgium as I work in the airline industry. We live in a world where everything is connected.
I must confess, it has not always been easy. First, at the beginning of the week, the students were shy but after playing a game at the end of the first evening or playing football in the early morning, they opened up. Also taking care of the animals brought us together.
Secondly, some of the problems the community is facing are tough. During the social talks, we talked about difficult topics related to respect, culture and traditions (like forced marriage, rape and poaching).
I thought it was important to show the video of Lady Gaga ‘Til it happens to you’. This song is directed to victims of rape - but when you hear the lyrics, it can be addressed to anybody who has been emotionally or physically abused or has suffered any kind of pain whether it is harassment, bullying, depression, drugs, alcohol, losing someone, failing at something, being humiliated, being betrayed... We debated amongst the volunteers about whether we should show or not the video as the content is pretty violent and we decided to show it. To be honest, I was actually unsettled (and not the only one) by the reaction of some of the students who thought the video was ‘cool’. It was not the reaction we had expected on such a difficult topic. Obviously the message Until it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels’ didn’t get through. Rape is a scourge that is minimized and victims are not recognized as such. There is still a lot to do in this area to make them realize how much damage such an event can have in someone’s life.
Anyway, at the end of a very busy week, it was heart-breaking to see the students go. They had become our friends and I want to know what they will become in the future. Hopefully we will stay in touch.
I only made a small contribution but I hope that for some of the students I made the difference. One of them told me I was ‘inspiring’, another one said I was ‘motivating’. Now I want them to become ambassadors, to teach their community what they have learned at DAKTARI because I believe in education. I also found out, through the comments of the other volunteers that I was good at teaching and they were impressed about all the stuff I knew. I like to keep myself informed because knowledge, just like education, is power.
To finish, I was really happy when DAKTARI gave Patience and Thato a job. They were both very shy at the beginning of the week but they have really grown during the week and increased their self-confidence.
The students just need a little push and that is what DAKTARI and the volunteers are striving to achieve. We want to educate them and create awareness of animal welfare to make sure they act responsible and think long term. Their future is now in their hands!
It was definitely an incredible and unforgettable experience!
Keep on the good work!
The challenge we are facing?
DAKTARI is situated in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The country as a whole, and our province in particular alongside KZN and the Free State, are facing one of the worst droughts seen in the past two decades. The bush is very dry and we have reached a situation where we fear for the wellbeing of the animals that live on the DAKTARI Farm. All three provinces affected have been labeled as being disaster areas due to the severity of the situation. With the baby-season coming we want to be able to provide a little support to prevent malnutrition, dehydration, or even the death of some of these animals, as well as ensuring that the future mothers can provide for their young ones in the heat.
The drought which is currently affecting the area in which DAKTARI is has become more severe than was initially thought. Around this time, we would have experienced scattered rainfall and a progressively greener bush going into the rainy season. Unfortunately the bush is dry and there is fewer and fewer food for the wild animals on our farm. This project aims to counter the potentially devastating effects of the drought by providing a food source for the wild animals without majorly interfering.
What do we want to do?
Within the DAKTARI Farm we have a wide variety of animals. Be it giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, or a host of smaller animals, we believe in providing a little bit of help. We want to be able to provide lucerne and game pellets for the animals in the farm in specific areas where the animals will be able to gain nutrition while not being affected by our presence. This will allow us to counter the effects of the drought by providing a much needed source of food. Therefore, we have budgeted $500 to be able to purchase a sufficient amount of lucerne and game pellets to the animals of the farm. Moreover, if this drought continues and we receive no rain, we have kept in mind an 'excess' to be able to provide this help throughout the summer months of major heat.
Remember our update a few months ago that the ward councilor of The Oaks village visited DAKTARI? Well, we made an agreement with him that his Community Workers Team (CWT) will clean the public places in the village every Monday and Thursday. This has been going on for a while now and we are very happy to drive into a clean market place and unpolluted school areas every time we visit the village. The CWT also takes the full rubbish bags to the rubbish dump on a weekly basis, which is quite a big step for a village without a proper waste management plan. Okay – let’s be honest – there is still a lot of work to do before each household has its own dustbin or even recycling bin and a rubbish truck comes to collect the rubbish. However, good things come in small packages and then we didn’t even talk about our ‘building with rubbish’ project yet!
First things first. Building with rubbish you said? Yes, that’s right and it is purely a win win situation! A while ago, we asked all primary and high school learners in The Oaks to collect empty plastic bottles. They could fill these up with plastic rubbish until the top, resulting in a solid and non-squeezable so-called Ecobrick. In many Asian countries, people already apply these Ecobricks to build sustainable greenhouses and earthquake-proof houses and schools. However, what we are planning to build with these re-usable bricks is a huge dustbin, right on the marketplace of the village – THE spot where a dustbin is needed the most!
The students reacted very positively and it was in the afternoon when we introduced the project, that we already saw several youngsters putting plastic rubbish from the streets into bottles. Besides that this is amazing to see, this project has benefits on many fronts:
· The village will be cleaner as children use plastic litter to put in the bottles.
· Fewer plastics will be burnt at the houses, as also plastics from domestic rubbish are used to fill the bottles.
· The common goal is building the first public dustbin for the village. It will be something to be proud of for the children, as they took part in realizing it.
· We spread the word of the importance of taking care for the environment and that rubbish belongs in the dustbin.
Up until today, we collected 300 bottles from many different children. Some were unbelievably enthuastic: Tebatso, for example, brought 38 bottles in one go! To be able to build a big dustbin, 500 bottles are needed and the expectations are that we will reach this number soon. At that very point, we can start building the first public dustbin for The Oaks, of course in close collaboration with the community members. And the good news is: you can also take part in this project!
Would you like to support DAKTARI’s Outreach Programme and contribute towards the purchase of cement, so that we can start building this Ecobricks dustbin? Check out our GlobalGiving page to make a donation.
On behalf of the local communities and the Outreach team, a heartfelt ‘ke leboga kudu’ (means ‘thank you very much’ in the local language; Sepedi)! YOUR support makes a difference!
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...