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, 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.
To all you donors who have given selflessly of yourselves and resources to provide the food and care for Shiloweni, we salute you. This is the end of the story of this leopard, but the Bush School & Wildlife he called home for so many years continues. We ask that you continue to support DAKTARI for it purpose of saving animals like Shiloweni.
Dear GlobalGiving Donors,
Some of you know us personally but others have not had the opportunity to meet us yet.
We, Ian and I (Michele), are the co-founders on site of DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage.
Yesterday, 31st of December, I went again through the list of our donors to check that we did not forget to thank anyone.
The list was long and I realised how many people you are, helping and trusting us. Being touched about it, I had to take time and think about each of you all!
I want you to understand that behind the description of the project on GlobalGiving, there are also two people with passion for the environment and love for our community. We, and our team, are the ones doing the work and making the impact on your behalf. We deeply thank you for choosing DAKTARI as a beneficiary.
Your donation (s) have been very important to us in 2014 and this is why I finished the year thinking about each and every one of you.
When I woke up this morning, believe it or not, I was thinking of you again. Although I wanted to stay in bed, I needed to share my feelings with you and write my gratitude. It is important to explain in simple words how meaningful you are to us. Basically, you kicked me out of bed!!!!
Thank you for being who you are. Your generous support makes it possible for our organisation to exist and to make the community a great place to live.
Remember that to us your donation is much more than a click, and we are looking forward to your support in 2015.
All the best to you, very dear donors.