When a group of 21 Australians arrive for an authentic African bush experience, who better to show them the ropes than South Africa’s own ‘Steve Irwin’?
Award-winning conservation crusader and YouTube sensation Dingo Dinkelman hosted a group of avid environmentalists from Down Under for a 12-day African adventure in September that included rhino dehorning and collaring, close-up bush encounters, and even a game of cricket.
“It was great having the chance to host our Australian friends on South African soil so that they could really understand our conservation initiatives and the challenges we’re facing on the ground,” commented Dinkelman.
“There’s no way we can tackle the conservation issues in our country without help from international partners and this visit was an important step in creating these networks.”
A large contingent of the 21 visitors were from Australia’s Victorian Herpetological Society (VHS), a non-profit organisation dedicated to learning and sharing information related to reptiles. Earlier this year, Dingo and his family were invited by the VHS to share their knowledge about African wildlife, taking the opportunity to form valuable connections for future conservation projects.
During the 12-day visit, the Australian contingent enjoyed a first-hand experience with the many South African snakes and other reptiles that have found a home at Dingo’s Hillcrest-based wildlife sanctuary. The team also enjoyed a trip north to Zululand where they spent three nights at the beautiful Duiker Game Lodge. During their three-day safari, the visitors enjoyed unique experiences with elephants, cheetahs and other African cats. They were also fortunate enough to participate in the collaring and de-horning of rhinos in the ongoing quest to save the iconic species.
The team was also taken to the location of Dingo’s Animal Kingdom, a 20-hectare safe haven for animals which is setting the benchmark on the continent for caring for wildlife, and creating a unique platform for people and animals to connect.
Dingo bought the land in 2019, with he and the team working steadily to prepare the land for its future inhabitants through the planting of indigenous trees and erecting fencing. Dingo’s Animal Kingdom will be a multi-functional facility where animals roam free in their natural environment, as well as providing informative demonstrations and school shows, training in conservation and offering invaluable research into protected species.
The guests had only positive reviews of the South African excursion, with Adam Sapiano commenting:
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that exceeded all expectations, leaving me with memories that will last a lifetime!” while James Lyon noted: “My experience with Dingo and the crew was unbelievable, with true life-changing interactions with amazing wildlife and people that I’ll cherish forever.”
Dingo added: “It was a great experience for all of us and I think a real eye-opener for our guests. We decided to end the visit with a trip to Kingsmead where they got to watch South Africa take on Australia in a T20 … let’s just say it wasn’t a highlight for me!”