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Over 220 South African youth educated about nature

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature
Over 220 South African youth educated about nature

I had an opportunity to spend a day and night at Daktari, visiting with Michelle Merrifield and her husband and counterpart Ian.  This was truly an eye-opening experience for me, because I did not grow up with animals in my house.  The closest thing I had to a pet was a goldfish in a tank that my brother, sister, and I foolishly tried to clean one night by refilling it in our bathtub, only to wake up the next morning to see that we had broken the seal of the tank and all 10 gallons had leaked onto the floor.  Being surrounded by wild animals of all kinds, ostriches, warthogs, a leopard, a donkey, a porcupine, etc. was an entirely new experience for me.

That said, I am so grateful to have had the chance to spend time at Daktari and to learn so much about the good they are doing in their surrounding communities.  Michelle and Ian use animals to educate children about life, caring for those that cannot help themselves (a lot of the animals came to the orphanage because they were injured in some way and left to be killed or experimented with), and social etiquette like politeness and being considerate of others.  Every week Ian drives to a school that is more than an hour away to pick up a group of eight to ten 8th grade students.  The students spend a week “camping” out at Daktari, where they learn about wildlife, participate in classes about basic math and reading, and also discuss life issues like how to reject drugs and alcohol and practicing safe sex.  Their days are packed with activity from a dog walk that starts at 7 a.m. to dinner that is complete by 8 p.m. 

Volunteers help maintain the camp and also serve as coaches and mentors for the kids.  Michelle and Ian also live on the bush school grounds, and they have visitors there 90% of the year.  In 2010, kids were visiting 49 out of 52 weeks.  Michelle and Ian exude passion and enthusiasm for the children they serve and the animals they care for that is contagious.  It is clear that the kids and animals love them just as much.  Michelle and Ian have literally given up all personal freedom and luxuries to fulfill their vision.  Michelle, for example, moved from a big city in France to the wild, with no electricity, and the closest airport more than five hours away.  What they have been able to build and maintain is really special and unique, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with them.

Group picture
Group picture

Dear sponsors,

Last week, Daktari was pleased to welcome Wilright, our local volunteer, for the next 4 weeks. He is working as a mediator between the volunteers and the students. He was one of the first children who came to Daktari five years ago when Daktari could only afford to invite local children for a weekend. Wilright has been really helpful during the lessons as some of the kids have difficulties to understand English.

During their week of environmental education, we also include social talks. One of them is about HIV/AID and, even with our local volunteer, Wilright, it was not that easy! During this talk, our international volunteers and Wilright contradicted each other. One of our students asked if it is dangerous for his health to have a relationship with a pregnant girl. Wilright answered that this kind of relation can ensue with disease for the man, above all if the girl is not his girlfriend. Although this is scientifically false, after long and interesting discussions with Wilright and the staff, this is a belief in their traditional culture. However, we had to tell the truth to the children. We tried to explain that sometimes cultural beliefs and science are contradictory. We understand and respect their culture however we need to explain to the children what is scientifically correct.

In all cultures, we can find beliefs that are not in accordance with science…

As a result, we figured out the volunteers really have to harmonize their speech and do not put the students in an awkward situation. It has definitely been an interesting experience that will be fruitful for the future, and making us realize that our local children need a lot of support in education in general.

Again, we thank you for your support and being a part of our project. Without your help we would not be able to achieve as much as we do.

Best regards.

Learning how to use a condom
Learning how to use a condom

Links:

Children celebrating Christmas in the swimming poo
Children celebrating Christmas in the swimming poo

Dear Supporter of Daktari,

The year 2010 is nearly finished and we welcomed, this week, our last group of Children.

To celebrate Christmas, we invited Children who have been with us in the past, and have created a wildlife club in their village. Along the year they have encouraged their friends, family and community to protect the environment. The message is passing through and all we have to do is to spread it to more and more children, which we will carry on to do from January 2011.

During this week we have celebrated Christmas and the joy of receiving from all of you, as we know that without your precious help, Daktari wouldn't exist. The children enjoyed the hot hours of the day in the Swimming Pool. Yes, summer in South Africa isn't under the snow but around the swimming pool!!!

The children went on a bush walk with Ian who reminded them about the trees and the animal tracks. At the time of their stay, the children had also the opportunity to experience a tracking of poachers by the South African police. Unfortunately, poaching still exists and Daktari has a lot of work to do, still, to convince the whole community of the importance of saving wildlife for their future. It was a favorable time to discuss solutions to stop poaching and everybody left with the promise to spread the word in the village.

On a more positive side, the children had also the chance to celebrate the birth of Chico's baby. Chico, our bushbaby, is living free around the camp for more than a year now. We didn't know if he/she was a male/female and therefore didn't know she was pregnant. What a surprise and an existing Christmas present Chico (renamed Chica) gave us.

We thank you all for your great generosity and for keeping us in your heart and thoughts.

From the sunny South African bush, we wish you a Merry Christmas.

Chico, our beloved bushbaby
Chico, our beloved bushbaby
Directors wishing you a Merry Christmas
Directors wishing you a Merry Christmas
The Birth of Poncho, Chico
The Birth of Poncho, Chico's baby
Children at Daktari
Children at Daktari

The year has been very busy for Daktari. We started the year welcoming the grade 8 children from two local schools. There were no school holidays for Daktari Bush School and we decided to work non stop, even during the soccer world cup event and the building of our new predator camp. We are, and have been, very determined to achieve what you and us believe in : Educating as many children as possible - because the future of our environment depends on our children. The success of our teaching programme is spreading over the community and we have been asked on numerous occasions to welcome children from other schools. So we did !!! When we finished all the grade 8 from Ramatau and Lepono schools, positive contacts were made with three new schools, and we have started taking their children as well. We will have reached, by the end of the year, more than 1500 children! And this all in the past five years! We have given all of these children the experience of a lifetime, and created in them an awareness of caring for wildlife and environment. 

Animals have also been a part of this success. Recently we hand raised an orphan Nyala that was re-introduced into the wild. A baby donkey was born, a baby bushbaby is taken care of by our volunteers and older bushbaby (Chico), Shiloweni our leopard has calmed down a lot and settled nicely in his enclosure. All of us, volunteers, donors, children and staff are really making an impact on the future of our environment. 

We thank you for your tremendous support and the faith you have in our work. Without you, Daktari wouldn't exist and survive.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and look forward to hear from you.

Chico and Nina
Chico and Nina
Petunia reading a book about wildlife
Petunia reading a book about wildlife

Links:

Shiloweni arriving at Daktari
Shiloweni arriving at Daktari

End of June Daktari was asked by the Karongwe Conservancy to take care of Shiloweni, a leopard who couldn’t be rehabilitated into the wild. Shiloweni is a full grown leopard and has no fear for human. This is why he was captured initially when it has been found out that he also had a problem with his canines which had to be removed. An attempt to rehabilitation was done but unfortunately, Shiloweni was losing condition as, without his teeth, he couldn’t protect his prey and himself from other predator. He was also found roaming too close to habitation, putting the lives of people in danger. Unfortunately, Shiloweni had to be kept in an enclosure for the rest of his life and Daktari was offered to take care of him while educating the local children about wildlife. The first days were a bit stressful for Daktari, the children and the leopard. It took all of us a little while to adapt to each other but we like to think that Shiloweni is now very comfortable and the children enjoy watching his daily feeding.

We thank you all for your continued support toward education and care of wild animals. Your donation is always a great help and we appreciate to have you by our side. Do not hesitate to contact us directly if you have any question about our project, we will always be happy to be in touch with you.

Have a lovely day,

Shiloweni showing his missing canines
Shiloweni showing his missing canines
Shiloweni happy at Daktari
Shiloweni happy at Daktari

Links:

 

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Organization Information

DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Daktariafrica
Project Leader:
Michele Merrifield
Founder
Hoedspruit, South Africa

Funded Project!

Thanks to 469 donors like you, a total of $38,751 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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