Environmental Education for over 300 Children

by DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
Amy and I, spreading Christmas cheer in Hoedspruit
Amy and I, spreading Christmas cheer in Hoedspruit

Greetings from all of us here at DAKTARI. We hope that you are all well and getting excited about the approaching festive season!

As always, I want to say a huge THANK YOU for your continued support and interest in DAKTARI.

Before I get started on the latest news from camp, I want to let you know about a very special opportunity coming up on GlobalGiving on TUESDAY 3RD DECEMBER!! Two of our projects - our Christmas 'Sponsor a Child' campaign and our Outreach Programme's 'Eco Clubs' project - have been selected for YouthSpark, sponsored by Microsoft, which means that they can receive 100% MATCHED DONATIONS. Matching will begin at 12pm EST. That's 17:00 in the UK, 18:00 for most of Europe and 19:00 in South Africa. Donors in other countries can check the time here. So, if you're thinking about making a Christmas donation to DAKTARI and you want the opportunity to DOUBLE YOUR CONTRIBUTION, here's your chance.*

Since the last report at the beginning of September, you guys have donated over $850 through GlobalGiving. This is absolutely amazing, enough to cover the cost of environmental education for 5 children!! What is even more special is that almost all of these have been recurring donations, meaning that most of you are supporting DAKTARI on a monthly basis – we cannot thank you enough!!

We have been especially busy over the past couple of months, first of all with a French film crew coming to make a documentary about DAKTARI. Although not without it’s challenges, this was such a great opportunity for us to showcase the vital work that we do here. Seeing DAKTARI through the eyes of the film crew also reminded us of how truly special this project is and how proud we all are of what we are achieving. The documentary is due to be aired soon on French TV channel TF1 – keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more details.

Another exciting event has been Shiloweni’s annual check-up with wildlife vet, Peter Rogers. As well as monitoring the overall health of our leopard, this gives the children and volunteers an opportunity to get up close and personal with this magnificent animal. For the children, especially, this is a once-in-a-life-time experience, one that they couldn’t wait to tell their friends and family about. For the full report on Shiloweni’s check-up, please click here.

Another creature who has been teaching the children more about his kind is Hedwig, our baby Spotted Eagle Owl. Hedwig fell from the nest at a very young age and would have died without human intervention. Now safe at DAKTARI, this odd-looking ball of feathers is helping to change the perception of the kids, many of whom are afraid of owls due to local superstitions.

Of course, it’s not just the animals that are doing a great job of educating the children. We recently welcomed back 2 students from our Outreach Programme to help out at DAKTARI as volunteers. Having continued their environmental studies at Eco Club over the past few years, Ashandy and Tiras were able to share their knowledge and assist the international volunteers with the teaching programme. Not only was this valuable for DAKTARI, but it was also a great experience for Ashandy and Tiras, allowing them to develop their confidence and abilities as young adults and giving them some work experience to add to their CVs.

Marketing volunteer, Amy, and I will be outside PicknPay in Hoedspruit with Eco Club member, Jeremiah, over the Christmas period talking to the local community about DAKTARI and selling some lovely Christmas gifts to raise funds and spread awareness. If you are in the area on December 21st, please come and say hello – we would love to meet you!

So, until the next report, from everyone here at DAKTARI, we wish you a very merry holiday season and a happy new year!!

*Matched funding will begin at 12pm EST on Tuesday 3rd December. Check the time in your country here.

There is $250,000 available in matched funding and matching will continue for 24 hours or until these funds run out.

Only the following DAKTARI projects have been selected for YouthSpark: Christmas Gift – Sponsor a Child and Environmental Clubs for Kids in South Africa.

Matching will be applied up to $1000 per unique donor.

Ian and Michele with the French fim crew
Ian and Michele with the French fim crew
Michele and the children meet Shiloweni
Michele and the children meet Shiloweni
Tiras and Kobe feed baby owl, Hedwig
Tiras and Kobe feed baby owl, Hedwig
Eco Club member, Ashandy, teaches the kids
Eco Club member, Ashandy, teaches the kids
Jeremiah, from Eco Club, speaks to the community
Jeremiah, from Eco Club, speaks to the community


The A Team - Aby, Amy, Claire and Louise
The A Team - Aby, Amy, Claire and Louise

Spring is in the air and Daktari has a spring in it’s step with a brand new team of long-term volunteers. Michele and Ian are being kept busy and entertained by Aby, Amy, Louise and Claire who are in charge of volunteers, marketing, fundraising and the outreach programme respectively.

In July, along with the help of our maintenance volunteer, Sebastien, we held a street party to raise funds for Daktari. All the local projects were invited to join us and we raised over R5000. A great time was had by all and Michele even got involved in the cooking of the sausages!

As well as human additions, we also have some exciting new animals here at Daktari.

First of all, we welcomed a group of Dassies, or Rock Rabbits as they are sometimes known. At first they were a bit unsure of their new enclosure and they climbed the trees in an effort to escape! They have since settled in nicely and can be seen basking in the sun on a warm day.

We have also made room for a beautiful Pearl-spotted Owlet who will remain with us until her wing is strong enough for release. A permanent home has been offered to a yet-to-be-named Long-crested Eagle who is blind in one eye and therefore does not have the distance vision required for hunting prey.

The final addition is our Thick-tailed Bushbaby, Banchee. This little darling was hand-raised so is unable to fend for herself in the wild. She now has a safe ‘forever’ home with us here at Daktari.

Of course, the children continue to delight and challenge us each week. They learn so much and teach us a thing or two in the process!

Take 2 minutes out of your day to watch DAKTARI NEWS and let our children share a few facts about their favourite animals:

Thabiso and the Ostrich

Natasha and the Meerkats

Once again, we cannot thank you enough for your continued support. It would not be possible for us to continue our work in environmental education without the help of people like you. Thank you for making a difference!

The dassies plot their escape!
The dassies plot their escape!
Bella, the Pearl-spotted Owlet
Bella, the Pearl-spotted Owlet
Our Long-crested Eagle
Our Long-crested Eagle
Banchee, the Thick-tailed Bushbaby
Banchee, the Thick-tailed Bushbaby


Meet Jumper, a Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle who came to Daktari last week. Jumper had a broken wing and had to have most of it amputated. Although he cannot fly, he is still very quick on the ground as he jumps around his cage, hence his name!!

The children were really excited to meet him but a little bit nervous because of his size.  Jumper is about 60cm tall and has VERY big talons.  He is a brilliant edition to the orphanage as we have never had a black eagle before and the children can study his behavior at close hand.

Just a reminder that Bonus day is coming up, GlobalGiving offers YOU a 50% match on your donation on the 12th June.

Donate online the Wednesday 12th of June from 9 am to midnight Eastern Time or 3 pm to 6 am (13th of June) European Time to boost YOUR impact

Share your African Dream and encourage YOUR friends and family to support YOUR dream too.

This is the link to BOOST your donation by 50%: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/environmentaleducationforover300children/

Africa's environment is thanking you for your contribution.

Ian and Michele Merrifield
(Co-Founders of DAKTARI)


Cindy's letter

Dear Supporting Friends,

As most of you know Herbie came to live with us at Daktari about six months ago.  Herbie is a cross between a Bush pig and a Domestic pig.  A couple of weeks ago Peter Rogers our local vet came to visit Herbie as he was becoming quite aggressive and difficult to manage.  It was decided that it was best to have him neutered.  The children who were staying at Daktari at the time joined Peter in the operation.  Some of them didn’t realize there were special doctors for animals called Vets. We all found the operation very interesting but a bit messy!!

For a few days after the operation, Herbie was a little bit sore and we had to make sure he kept dry (no swimming in the dam!).  Now however he is much happier and not aggressive at all, for some reason now he even likes men…?  He’s now back walking with the dogs twice a day and he swims in the dam and wallows in the mud, which is his favorite thing to do!  Herbie is now a VERY happy, social pig and makes us laugh on a daily basis!

Here is one of the letters that a student wrote to the vet:


Dear Dr Peter Rogers


First of all I would like to greet you and your family. The thing that me write this letter is because I wanted to thank you for helping Herbie the pig, that was very kind of you for doing an operation on the pig, and you realy showed us something we had never seen before. I learned something important so that if the animals are sick I will call you. I don’t have much words to say but I just wanted to say Thank You.


Yours faithfully



Traditional Dance at Daktari with Mina
Traditional Dance at Daktari with Mina

Dear Supporter,

Years go by and I sometime forget about how important our work is for the children we welcome at Daktari for a week of environmental education.

You are a part of this success and I would like to share with you the email I received from Mina, an underprivileged child we invited at Daktari eight years ago.

At this time, we were just starting our organisation, spent all our private savings and were scared not too succeed. However, the heart, dedication and passion were there already and I find out that these ingredients might be the keys to success. We didn't have fund but you believed in us and we can't thank you enough for that. 

Enjoy the impact you have made to Mina's life, through your support.



Hi Michele,

My name is Mina, we met in 2005 while i was doing grade 9 at Rakgolokwana high school, my self and other students use to come to Daktari for educational purposes, i wanna thank you for the knowledge and experience you have assist me with concerning nature conservation, i am currently working as a data collator with the K2C based at Hoedspruits, i have graduated for my diploma in nature conservation and currently doing btech[degree]. i dont know how to thank you, because i started to acquire knowledge from Daktari, this place gave me a good background in terms of environmetal knowledge and i really appreciate your effort as well as uncle Ian. I hope to visit you one day.

Today, I feel stronger than ever !!!
Thank you for being a part of this success.

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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.

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