In 2012, The Expedition Project’s foundation expedition conducted research on 192 towns and over 100 projects around South Africa. Our findings were that education was by far the most prevalent project category and yet still the most needed. DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage are one of those organisations doing things right.
DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage is a local NGO located in the South African bush near Kruger National Park. Founded in 2006, DAKTARI works to educate and inspire children to value their environment and stimulate community development.
DAKTARI provides the perfect environment for local children to learn about their natural heritage. The children come to DAKTARI for five days and complete lessons in our Environmental Education Program. In addition, the children help care for some of our animals in captivity who cannot be rehabilitated or released back into the wild. This program instils a sense of care, respect, and empathy towards animals and wildlife in their communities. Volunteers come from around the world to teach lessons and guide the children in caring for the animals at DAKTARI.
DAKTARI also runs an Outreach Program to extend our reach and create a more significant impact on the local communities. The weekly Eco Club and Wildlife Crime Campaigns help inspire children and ignite positive attitudes towards their valuable environmental heritage.
Each week, DAKTARI welcomes 8 Grade 8 students to come and stay at our camp. During their week of environmental education, the children get to see our animals, interact with volunteers and learn about their environment and how to protect it. Daktari aims to provide an engaging learning experience that motivates students to care for their environment.
Each lesson is taught by international volunteers who are part of the program as teachers and animal care providers. The volunteers receive the teaching program, a comprehensive manual with instructions for teaching each lesson.
To further inspire the children, they get to interact with the animals at DAKTARI’s wildlife orphanage. The animals live in enclosures throughout the camp or live free in the bush surrounding the camp. Whether it is a hungry squirrel or a curious dassie, each child is able to see an animal up close!
Each day has a mix of lessons, activities, and animal interactions. Compared to the normal classes in secondary school, at DAKTARI we keep class sizes small. Therefore, we can provide individual attention to each child. The children also take part in social talks to address some serious issues that they may face at home. DAKTARI’s friendly environment gives the children the confidence to speak openly about their concerns and needs.
The goal of DAKTARI Wildlife Orphanage is to provide a safe place to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals. This is a key part of DAKTARI’s vision which has grown into an integral part of the education of the local children.
Most of the children that come to DAKTARI have never seen any of the Big 5 or any of the local wildlife. Indeed, due to poaching, the wildlife has been relocated to private and national reserves for their protection. Entrance into these reserves is too expensive for most of the local communities.
This is where DAKTARI comes in. First of all, they teach the children that they should not fear or hate their local wildlife. Then, we teach them that animals should be protected and respected. They also make them aware that the local wildlife creates jobs through tourism and animal care.
DAKTARI’s community program aims at extending our impact to a wider population and actively engage with the surrounding local communities. Their goal is to empower the children to become role models in their village and make sure we keep on building their environmental awareness. This is achieved through our two main programs which are the Outreach Campaigns and the Eco Club.
With the help of the children in the Eco Club, DAKTARI has initiated and sponsored several community projects such as community clean-up projects, reusing rubbish to build a dustbin and planting trees at the crêche and school. The team aims to not only improve the aesthetics of the community but to instil a sense of pride and responsibility for their community into the children.