At Christmas time you made a very generous donation to one of our animals, either on behalf of a loved one, or personally from you. Here is a little update about the difference your festive gift has made...
Gasper and Tiki were hand raised as pets but when they started to bite, their owners no longer wanted them and in 2010 DAKTARI became their home. Your Christmas donations allowed us to enhance and enrich the boy’s enclosure, something we haven’t been able to do for a while. Their home is now much more interesting and stimulating– their favourite addition being a new hammock (pictured above) which they sunbath in together everyday!
Bandit (pictured below) and Munchkin were both hand raised at DAKTARI after separately being found abandoned in the wild, they are now best of friends! Your Christmas donations allowed us to enhance their enclosure with new underground tunnels, a rockery cave, hanging toys and swinging hammock, which they absolutely love playing with together!
Banchee was also hand raised as a pet and when he started to bite, he was no longer wanted and in 2013 DAKTARI became his home. Your Christmas donations allowed us to improve banchee’s enclosure with new jumping and climbing apparatus, making it much more interesting for him on his night time adventures! He also got one of his favourite biscuits (pictured below) which he is treated to every so often.
Shangaan came to DAKTARI in 2011 after being hand raised as a pet and then becoming hard to manage. Your Christmas donations are allowing us to make Shangaan’s home much more interesting, we already had plans to extend his camp, which are underway right now and with your added support we can really enrich the inside and make it exciting. He also enjoyed a large chicken on Christmas Day.
Once again, I would like to say a huge thank you on behalf of the DAKTARI animals for your support and belief at Christmas. We were all astounded by the overwhelming response this project received and only wish that you could see the impact every day like myself and the rest of the team do. I hope that this report gives you atleast an idea and that you enjoyed reading it - however, if you would like to see for yourself you can come and visit us! For more information on volunteering at DAKTARI simply click here.
From Gasper, Tiki, Bandit, Munchkin, Banchee, Molopo, Tugela, Shangaan and me, we hope you are enjoying the New Year and wish you all the very best for 2014.
Amy Hulme - DAKTARI Marketing Manager
All we can say is WOW! Over a period of 6 weeks, with your help, we managed to raise an incredible $4349.25 to fund the first 24 children of 2014 to visit DAKTARI. We cannot thank you enough for your contribution towards this Christmas campaign!!
It was our hope to welcome children to DAKTARI from January 13th, as soon as the holidays were over, but our local schools would prefer all the children to return for a regular week of education at the beginning of the school year. We have to agree that this is probably best for the children, many of whom will be starting the school year in a higher grade. So, this means that the first 8 children will arrive for environmental education on January 20th and we are very excited to begin the teaching program again.
DAKTARI has created an education program that gives under-privileged youths the opportunity to become passionate about wildlife and conservation. It also allows them to receive the one-on-one support and attention that they so deperately need.
The Limpopo Province, where we operate, is known as one of the poorest, least educated areas in South Africa, with an estimated 78.9% of the population living below the national poverty line. In our local schools, there are often more than 50 students per class, allowing little opportunity for individual support. This means that many children get 'left behind' in the school system. In 2010, only 48% of school leavers passed their Matriculation exam (graduated), so it comes as no surprise that the unemployment rate in 2011 was estimated at 39.5%.* Of course, poverty plays a huge role in the destruction of the environment here in Limpopo, with locals looking to poaching and chopping trees as a means to support their families.
DAKTARI's mission is to educate and inspire our local underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage. We want to encourage these youths to develop compassion for animals and to understand the economic benefits of conservation. Ultimately, we want to help these children to secure good employment within game lodges/reserves or in other eco-tourism roles. This is what you have contributed towards!
So what does a week of environmental education at DAKTARI look like? Each Monday we welcome 8 children for a 5-day visit. During their stay, the children experience daily hands-on interaction with the animals in our care, including feeding, cleaning, enrichment and dog walks. They also receive structured lessons on conservation topics, such as The Environment, Plastics, Animal Knowledge, Hunting & Poaching and Water Testing. They are taken on a bush walk with a trained field guide to discover animal tracks and trees and to learn more about the environment. They are also taken on a tour of a nearby game lodge to learn about the different job opportunities available to them in eco-tourism and to experience the thrill of a game drive. We have included some additional discussions on a variety of topics, like Politeness, Respect, Alcohol & Substance Abuse and Safe Sex, as these are important issues for teenagers in our locality and can have a profound effect on their employability and health in the future. Maths and English are also supported through fun and games. All of this is what you are making possible with your donation!!
In the next report, you will be able to read about the children who have directly benefited from your support. We can't wait to share their stories and happy faces with you!!
Until then, we wish you a very Happy New Year. Thanks again for making a difference!
*Statistics from statssa.gov.za and education.gov.za
A year ago, we began fundraising for our bushpig, Herbie. Through kind donations, we raised an incredible $3000 to build a special home for him. As you were a contributor to this project, I wanted to give you an update on Herbie and all that has happened since.
As you may remember, Herbie was entrusted into our care by Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. At this time, he was only about 4 months old, very cute and very playful. Being a hybrid of bushpig and domestic pig, we really didn’t know what to expect as he grew older – how big would he get, what would his temperament be like?
Herbie moved into his new pad in March 2013 and it is fair to say that he loved his new enclosure, making full use of all the extra space, the toys, the mud baths and his ‘bedroom’. For a long time, he continued to go on walks with the DAKTARI dogs and swim in the dam, but as he matured he became reluctant to go too far from his food bowl! However, he was still taken on daily walks around the camp for enrichment and exercise, something that he looked forward to very much.
It seems that the bushpig genes were dominant in Herbie and with the onset of maturity came hormones and aggression. In April 2013, our local wildlife vet, Peter Rogers, performed an operation to castrate Herbie. The purpose of this was to reduce his aggression, but also to prevent any breeding if he should ever be released. The operation was a great success, with the children at DAKTARI able to watch and ask questions, allowing them to understand the problems that can occur when two different species are bred together. Herbie’s behaviour improved significantly after this and it was our hope that he would live out his days happily at DAKTARI.
But the truth is that wild animals can be very unpredictable, even when they are only ‘half’ wild and have been hand-raised. There have a few instances this year where Herbie has taken his frustration out on our volunteers and staff, both inside and outside of his enclosure. It was decided that, apart from the one or two volunteers who regularly took him for walks, it was not safe to be in contact with him anymore. Of course, as a sociable creature, this was very sad for Herbie. Despite his aggressive tendencies, he really does love company and human interaction. It also meant that his daily walks were limited to shorter periods of time, because it was not safe for the volunteers and children to be around when Herbie was out of his enclosure.
With reluctance, we had to accept that perhaps DAKTARI could no longer offer Herbie the life that he so badly needed, one that allowed him to roam and forage to his heart’s content. We knew of a cattle farm not too far from DAKTARI where we had previously released some young warthogs. The farm is absolutely massive, with no dangerous predators and little risk of human contact. It was decided that this was the best option for Herbie and, with a sad heart, we set about making a plan to transport him.
To his credit, Herbie was no trouble at all when the time came. He got into his cage with no fuss, continued eating his breakfast while we lifted him onto the pick-up (4 strong men and a couple of ladies helped with this!) and then he settled down for the journey. I sat in the back with him the whole way, talking to him for comfort. Apart from a brief moment of car sickness, he handled the 45 minute trip very well.
At the farm, we drove to a particularly muddy-looking water hole for Herbie’s release. He came out of his cage with a minimum of fuss, not at all phased by his new surroundings. I shared a banana with him and we explored the edge of the mud hole. Before leaving, I scattered some of his favourite dog food around to keep him occupied. As we drove away, he didn’t even look up - he was too busy foraging! All in all, I think it was much harder for me than it was for him.
Herbie has had several ‘mothers’ since coming to DAKTARI, mainly Risette, Katrien and finally myself, but I know that there were many others who loved him and helped with his care. For us, it is difficult to accept that our baby has grown up and needs to find his own way in the wild, but this was the right thing to do.
Of course, Herbie’s enclosure (and your contribution to it!) will not be wasted. We have already cleaned the enclosure out, ready for the admission of the next ‘hog in need’.
Thank you again for your support and interest in Herbie. He has had many happy months in his special enclosure. We hope that he will have many happy years roaming about in the bush, like a proper bushpig should!