In the Field


In the Field: DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

Why DAKTARI offers a unique opportunity to inspire and teach the next generation about the importance of the natural world

Erica Spykerman
Office Manager

Hoedspruit, South Africa

What conservation challenges does the project seek to address?

The Mission of DAKTARI is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development.

Through the combination of the bush school and the wildlife orphanage, DAKTARI has developed an immersive educational experience for local children to learn about the wildlife around them, the environment, anti-poaching, and a wide variety of other issues, right in the middle of the bush. Our work extends into their communities through Eco Clubs at the secondary schools, job hunting for the youth, and community development projects.

How long have you been running and what are your greatest achievements?

We have been going for more than 13 years now, and have a very structured set-up, making sure our volunteers are safe and looked after from the moment they arrive in South Africa to the moment they leave!

Even our volunteers miss their connecting flight, we have friends and contacts that can look after them.

Some of our achievements over the past few years:

What are the challenges presented by the location / environment / wildlife on the project?

We face many challenges in our area, such as poaching, poor education and pollution.

South Africa’s large underprivileged population results in overcrowding of schools, where individual classes sometimes exceed 60 children per class. This results in many children not even being able to understand the basics of education.

Most children throughout the world live in villages, towns, or cities where the indigenous wildlife has for many years been eliminated. Although the wildlife is their heritage, many do not ever have the means or opportunity to even see a giraffe.

Human encroachment has drastically reduced the amount of suitable habitat for wild animals. Many baby animals are hand-raised by caring people, but when the animals reach maturity they usually come to a bad end. These animals either become dangerous, having lost their natural fear of humans, or get killed by coming too close to unfriendly humans.

There are very few safe habitats left for these animals. DAKTARI puts these two things together and uses these orphaned animals to educate children about their environment.

DAKTARI is an NGO and it’s always a challenge to find the right funds or materials in order to do different projects at camp.

How do we survive?

What should a conservationist expect of daily project life?

As a volunteer, you will be working 5 days a week from 7am in the morning until dinnertime or till the children go to bed.

In your spare time, there are a number of activities such as the swimming pool, walks, games, reading or just relaxing within the stunning surroundings. You will have time off on Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday and will be able to take this opportunity to visit the surroundings. A trip to town is organised every Saturday and you will enjoy meeting up with the local community.

What experience or skills do you offer conservationists that they won’t get elsewhere?

  1. Because you'll be working with both children and animals, you'll get a unique opportunity to inspire and teach the next generation about the importance of the natural world.
  2. You will learn how to build and strengthen local communities, whose success is essential to the long-term survival of the wildlife in the region.

Do you have any exciting plans for the next 12 months?

Yes we do! Here are some of the plans we have for this year

What are you looking forward to about working with Conservation Guide?

We are definitely looking forward to welcoming more English speaking volunteers to the site.

We also love the look of the website and all the features that are available.

Conservation Guide has the potential to grow quickly and reach more people, and we look forward to walking the same path!

One final piece of advice for a conservationist considering your project:

This is South Africa and we work on what most people call “African time”, please be open minded and patient when choosing a project.

DAKTARI's project is now available to book on Conservation Guide.

Check it out and book on DAKTARI's project page.

Follow Daktari on social media:

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