Welcome to DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage!
DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage is an NGO founded in 2006 with the goal of enabling local children to have a better quality of life. DAKTARI works to educate and inspire children to value their environment and stimulate community projects.
Located in the South African bush near Kruger National Park, DAKTARI provides the perfect environment for children to learn about their natural heritage. The children visit DAKTARI for 5 days to complete the environmental education program and work with the animals in our wildlife orphanage. The children get taught about important topics like the environment, rubbish, anti-poaching and job opportunities. Furthermore the environmental education program also includes social talks about respect, substance abuse and safe sex. International volunteers teach the lessons and guide the children in caring for the animals.
DAKTARI also runs an outreach program to provide a greater impact to the community. One of the ways this is done is by the ECO CLUB. ECO CLUB runs during a period of 6 weeks where 30 students come together 12 times to expand their knowledge of the environment and animals. This course is free and ends with a grand ceremony to congratulate the kids for their eagerness to learn and the things they achieved during those 6 weeks.
DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
PO Box 1599
Hoedspruit 1380 – South Africa
Tel.: (27) (0) 82 656 2969
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OUR STORY: A LOVE STORY THAT BECAME DAKTARI
Ian and Michele Merrifield officially opened DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage in 2006 but it was a long road to make it happen. Ian and Michele met while Ian was working as a game ranger at Tshukudu Game Lodge and Michele was volunteering there. While hand-raising injured zebras, wildebeest, and warthogs, Ian and Michele fell in love.
Michele had long dreamed about living in Africa and taking care of the wildlife. When she met Ian, she was able to realise that dream. They left Tshukudu after getting married and opened a restaurant in Hoedspruit to start raising capital for their own wildlife orphanage. While there, Ian and Michele helped raise a local boy from the village named Thabo. He had almost no knowledge or understanding of his native wildlife and environment, so Ian and Michele began using the animals in their care to teach him. Thabo’s understanding of conservation was typical of children in Limpopo and the idea of adding a bush school was born.
So where did the name DAKTARI come from? Michele says, “When we were younger, there was a TV program called Daktari. It was about a family in Africa, who looked after and raised many different types of orphaned wild animals. As kids we loved it and we remember getting deeply emotionally attached to the different animals.” Sounds familiar right? Michele and Ian adopted the name and so DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage was born.
Since its founding 13 years ago, DAKTARI has grown .
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 CLUB at the secondary schools, outreach campaigning and community development projects.
“Through DAKTARI’s programs, we have reached more than 4,000 children in 13 years, cared for hundreds of animals, and helped dozens of youth get employed. If you want to become involved with DAKTARI’s work, consider becoming a volunteer or donating!“