A Retired Cheetah Teaches Poor South African Youth

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
The predator camp
The predator camp

Dear Supporters,

It was time to move forward with our cheetah camp project. The cost of the camp to the requirement of the donors of the retired cheetah was far out of our budget and we didn’t want to wait years to give the children the opportunity to admire a predator. A generous sponsor, a few private ones, and your donation gave us enough funds to build a smaller but very decent predator camp.

We went into action, bought supplies and with the man power donated by a Daktari friend the building started. The camp is almost completed and still need a few adjustments. In a few weeks we will be able to advertise the potential home for any predator in need and hopefully we will share our passion for our wildlife with our local children.

The camp is a quarter of a hectare (50m x 50m), has lots of trees, shade and a big water trough. Surely we can already picture a peaceful lion, an active leopard, a majestic cheetah or even a naughty hyena there and can’t wait for the next arrival.

We thank you for your support toward our work and hope you appreciate our move into action to achieve as much as we can for the survival or our rich wildlife protection. You can contact us to let us know how you feel about our decision on the use of your donation.

We will certainly need more camps to be built and will, in time, offer you another animal camp to sponsor through Global Giving. In the mean time you are more than welcome to support us toward our on going running project of covering the cost to welcome underprivileged children for a week of education about environment. You can follow this links below if you would like to carry on supporting our work.

We wish you a happy Christmas with your friends and family and look forward to hear from you.

Ian and Michele

The safety corridor
The safety corridor
The building material for the camp
The building material for the camp


Children with a Sable Antelope
Children with a Sable Antelope

Dear All, Children and Animal lovers.

We thank you for your donation toward the building of the enclosure for our cheetah camp. We haven’t started the building as the funds raised are still insufficient. We are safely keeping your contribution on a bank account and hope to start the building as soon as we will reach at least 70% of the total amount needed. Although the children still mention that they preferred animal is a cheetah and that 98 % of them have never seen one, we try to get their attention toward wildlife through other beautiful animals. Last month, our neighbour and our local vet invited Daktari and its children to assist in the darting of a majestic Sable antelope (This was just for veterinary care purpose). What an experience for the children!!! They kept talking about it for the rest of their week at Daktari and we are sure that their parents and family can still hear the story of Precious in her role of Veterinary Assistant.

We are working hard on re-enforcing children’s compassion toward animals. Please let us know what you think about it?

We thank you for your support toward the building of a cheetah camp for the education of our children and the protection of the Cheetahs.

We look forward to hear from you,

Ian and Michele

Precious Veterinarian Assistant
Precious Veterinarian Assistant
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

Please let us know what you think of this update by providing feedback on our comments section!

Feeding a young bushbuck
Feeding a young bushbuck

A NOTE FROM GLOBAL GIVING: 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!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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.”


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​www.daktaribushschool.org
Project Leader:
Michele Merrifield
Hoedspruit, Limpopo South Africa

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.