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May 13, 2009

Building a camp for a retired cheetah

Disinfection of a duiker camp
Disinfection of a duiker camp

We started Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage because we found out that most of our local underprivileged children didn’t have access to wildlife although it’s a part of their heritage. Most of the local children and their family can’t afford unfortunately to visit national parks or private game reserves because of their high cost. It is very easy to blame a population of not taking care of their environment but what do we do to help them to understand the benefit of it? What do we do to make sure that all of us will still be able to come on holidays in South Africa in 20 years for the pleasure of seeing an elephant or a lion? This is what we do at Daktari. We educate underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage, by inviting them for a stay of 5 days with us in the bush.

During their stay the children are shown many wild animal orphans. Children learn how to clean animal cages and camps, disinfect them against diseases, and to give proper animal care. They learn about animals and how to find out more about them using books from the library. Children also go on bush walks and learn about animal tracks, trees, and many other things about nature. They always show a great interest in the small animal we have but they are missing out on their favourite animal which is the Cheetah. We have already made an impact on the local population as twice leopard and cheetah cubs have been saved from cruel hunt. Twice children who have been at Daktari have given pressure to their parents to call the services of Nature Conservation to remove the predators from their cattle farm instead of butchering them. We still need to reinforce this position. Kindly De Wildt Cheetah project has offered to give us a retired cheetah so the children can learn about them and the beauty and importance of wildlife. To ensure an adequate enclosure for the captivity of the animal we have to build a very big enclosure and need your involvement

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Feeding a young bushbuck
Feeding a young bushbuck
Mar 16, 2009

Update Daktari

Children having fun in the bush
Children having fun in the bush

We thought it was time to let you know how you have made a difference to Daktari with your donation through GlobalGiving. We have now received 11 171 US $ from 187 donors. The total project is 12 848 US $ and we only have to reach another 1 677 US $ to complete the project.

To date we have already invited 75 children for a week of education about wildlife and environment and all of them are already spreading the word with their friends and family.

The two wildlife clubs are showing a very enthusiastic interest and our volunteer team is actually at the moment having a meeting with the two clubs, in their village, to give them support with their new passion. We anticipate this will help them to be more familiar with nature and develop awareness about its protection.

We thank you all, friends, family and anonymous for your fantastic support.

Ian and Michele Merrifield

Children discovering pleasure of swimming
Children discovering pleasure of swimming
Feb 23, 2009

Who says you can't learn anything from TV? And Hazards of Bush Living


Please welcome Ian and Michele Merrifield. They are new project leaders here at GlobalGiving and over the past few weeks we have had the opportunity to get to know them and the great work they do for their organization Daktari Wildlife Orphanage & Bush School.

Periodically over the next two months we will be sending you snapshots about Ian and Michele’s life and work. We encourage your feedback about this new form of progress update so that we can provide you with the most interesting and relevant information possible about the projects and causes you support.

We thank you for your contributions and ask you to consider donating again to Ian and Michele and Daktari Wildlife Orphanage & Bush School. Feel free to tell your friends about this incredible project!

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Who says you can't learn anything from TV?

Ian and Michele Merrifield’s primary inspiration for their 1500 acre animal reserve and environmental school was the CBS TV program Daktari (Swahili for “doctor”), a show that aired briefly in the late 1960s about a fictional animal care center in East Africa. From their respective homes in France and South Africa, Michele and Ian remember “getting deeply emotionally attached to the different animals” on the show and aspired to one day open their own animal refuge centers.

Years later, Michele met Ian on a game reserve in Africa, and bonded over their love of bottle-feeding baby zebras injured by lions and aiding orphaned giraffes, elephants, lions, wildebeests, and warthogs. In 2002, they founded Daktari Bush School and Animal Orphanage.

Hazards of Bush Living

Ian and Michele Merrifield now operate a 1500 acre environmental education facility and animal refuge center in South Africa called Daktari. Their menagerie includes leopard, hyena, giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, bushbuck, and wildebeest, with the occasional visit from their larger neighbors, the elephant and lion.

There are some animals, however, of which the Merrifields are not so fond. Mosquitoes, snakes, spiders, and scorpions are some of their bush “friends” who co-exist in the habitat, but are not exactly the kind of visitors Daktari hopes to attract. “It is fun but everyone must be vigilant,” says Michele.

Being out in the bush also means being distant from supplies crucial to the function the Merrifield’s program, whose facilities require constant maintenance and upgrading. Ian and Michele hope to expand the program to more children and improve the infrastructure of their center. Although currently without electricity, Ian and Michele say they hope to “reduce our carbon footprint by having better power sources, such as solar power for the office and refrigeration.”

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