Working with wildlife and underprivileged children

Volunteers South Africa Hoedspruit, South Africa


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The mission of this project near the Kruger Park in South Africa is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development. 

Every Monday, eight new students come to the project camp to spend the week building their knowledge of the environment and wildlife. They attend lessons, do activities, and interact with the animals in the wildlife orphanage. The project also works at the secondary schools to further this education and undertake community development projects.

As a volunteer your main tasks will be teaching the children and working with the animals. You will give the children the opportunity to discover, learn and become passionate about wildlife and conservation, their heritage. You will also supplement their school curriculum in very basic English, maths, life skills, educational games and social issues.

Bush School

Purpose: Provide a close and engaging learning experience that motivates Grade 8 students to care for their environment, while teaching them important life skills

The Grade 8 students visiting DAKTARI are from the local secondary schools in the villages. The teaching program is a mix of environmental education, life skills training, animal interactions, and discussions on social issues. International and local volunteers teach all of the lessons. Class sizes are kept small and each child is given individual attention during the week. The children learn about anti-poaching, politeness, job opportunities in game reserves, and discuss social issues like substance abuse and safe sex.

Wildlife Orphanage

Purpose: Provide a home for unreleasable or orphaned animals that inspire passion for the environment in the children that visit DAKTARI.

The wildlife orphanage houses more than thirty species of animals. From cheetahs to crocodiles to meerkats, eighty animals call the project home. These animal ambassadors are unable to survive in their natural habitat so they live at the project and help to educate the children. The students are actively involved in animal care during their time at the project. They see many of these animals for the first time. This unique experience inspires them to protect their local wildlife and environment.

Community Work

Purpose: Increase the impact of the Teaching Program at the project through Eco Clubs and community projects

The project Outreach Program consists of three parts: Eco Clubs at the secondary schools, community development projects, and career guidance.

The Eco Clubs are an extension of the teaching program at the project. The voluntary, activity-based clubs teach students more about the environment and wildlife. The students also plan and implement projects to improve their community, such as planting trees or cleaning the village.

The project periodically welcomes local unemployed youth to the camp for career guidance. During the week, they learn the skills they need to find a job.


The children particpating in the programme are in the 8th grade, but they vary in age from 13 to 16 years old. Their English is very poor and need lots of support with general skill. Personal attention is something that they are not used to. That is why they really get the chance to blossom at the project. . They go home as different children and that is also because of the attention they receive from people like you.

As a volunteer you will be expected to accompany the children on stabling duties. These tasks include:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting animal camps and cages
  • Providing fresh food and water for the animals
  • Checking the health and condition of the animals
  • Compiling newsletter articles for individual animal sponsors
  • Research and record keeping of the animals
  • Basic first aid for animals

Many animals require extra care and sometimes this may involve working during the night.

You meet at 7.00 in the morning for coffee. From 7.30 you do a bush walk with the children and the dogs. You then feed the animals and clean their camps. At 9.00 you have breakfast. Lessons start from 9.30 till 12.00. Then you have lunch and everyone is off till 14.00 when the lessons start again and will go on until 16.30. You will feed the animals again between 16.30 and 17.00 just before discussing social issues with the children. Dinner is served at 18.30 and is followed by an educational game before the children are sent to bed. You will have a group meeting every day to discuss the tasks of everyone and the progresses of the children.

All volunteers work 5 days a week, from 7h in the morning until dinnertime with a break at lunchtime, when you will be able to enjoy the swimming pool.
You will have time off on 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.


Whether you are away from home for the first time or are an experienced volunteer, you will love the family atmosphere that is created at the project. Your help will make a huge difference in aiding conservation and animal welfare, teaching local underprivileged children and building bridges between local and international people. All in all you will be participating to a worthy cause and having a fantastic volunteer experience in one!