CONSERVATIONIST CREATES UNIQUE CATO RIDGE WILDLIFE HAVEN
WORDS: OLIVIA JONES COMMUNICATIONS
EDITS: SHIRLEY LE GUERN
IMAGES: KIRSTY AND DINGO DINKELMAN
Surviving the deadly bite of a black mamba… escaping the crushing jaws of a Nile crocodile…hunting for killer lions in the African bush…and now raising a staggering R750 000 in 42 days for conservation – there’s really no challenge that conservationist Dingo Dinkelman is afraid to take on!
After a 15-year search, Dingo – a South African conservationist and YouTube favourite who is known for his daring wildlife encounters – eventually found the perfect tract of land in 2019 for his wildlife haven. This pristine 20-hectare farm, based in KwaZulu-Natal’s Cato Ridge, will act as a base from which Dingo’s team can operate, providing them with space to care for some of the globe’s most endangered animals.
Named ‘Dingo’s Animal Kingdom’, this safe haven will set the benchmark on the African continent for how animals can be cared for, creating a unique platform for people and animals to connect.
Dingo’s Animal Kingdom will be a multi-functional facility where animals are able to roam free in their natural environment. Collaborating with other conservation institutions, this safe haven will be the base for informative demonstrations and schools shows, as well as providing up-to-date training in conservation and offering invaluable research into protected species.
Working with local and international experts, Dingo’s Animal Kingdom will also initiate vital breeding programmes as a way to provide insurance colonies for endangered species. This way, species that are at risk of extinction can actually be reintroduced into the wild.
The team will also continue its highly-effective fundraising projects that have made a huge impact on wild rhino, pangolin, lion, brown hyena and various reptile species’ populations to date.
“The R750 000 donation is a huge milestone for the park, and we anticipate breaking ground in about a year or so, with Dingo’s Animal Kingdom set to open in about two years,” Dino said.
THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
While he waits for the required Environmental Impact Assessment to be finalised, Dingo has been hard at work removing alien vegetation, fencing the land, creating firebreaks and has now embarked on an ambitious goal of planting over 1 000 indigenous trees over the course of the next few months.
“With any great venture, there is always going to be financial pressure and our next few stages of development are particularly expensive. We’re so fortunate in that we have worldwide support from people who care about genuine conservation work. So, with this in mind, I decided that I would offer the opportunity for our supporters to be part of this incredible initiative and I set a challenge for us to raise R750 000 or $50 000, in just 50 days.”
As a testament to the belief Dingo’s supporters have in the quality of work he does in protecting the natural world, the dollars, pounds, euros, rands – and every other currency – started rolling in, and the $50 000 target was reached in just 42 days. On top of this, an international investor committed a further $200 000 on the basis that this 50/50 goal was achieved. Every sponsor who contributed $1 000 or more will get a plaque installed at Dingo’s Animal Kingdom as an eternal reminder of their commitment to conservation.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The overwhelming financial response was backed up by messages of support from around the world. Laura Wilcox from Virginia, USA said: “The first time I saw Dingo on YouTube I couldn’t help but get swept up by his enthusiasm and passion for wildlife conservation. I am very fortunate to be able to help with the establishment of this park and I can’t wait to see all the great projects that Dingo has planned in the future.”
Fellow US resident, Krystal Santiago from Colorado commented: “I have been a big supporter of Dingo and his various wildlife conservation projects and even though, I may never leave the US, or even Colorado, I feel deeply privileged to be able to contribute to wildlife conservation all the way across in South Africa.”
Over in Surrey, England, Christopher Reed stated: “Though Dingo is 6,000 miles away from me, his passion for conservation is contagious and I feel honoured that I am able to play my part in this conservation project in South Africa. I hope to visit in person one day and enjoy your beautiful country and see the project for myself.”
While home in South Africa, Johannesburg’s Byron Forsberg, said: “There are very few people who are as passionate about wildlife conservation as Dingo and his family. It is a privilege to be able to donate to a project where I know that every cent will go straight towards helping animals and conserving natural habitats. This initiative was particularly attractive to me because it is in a part of South Africa that I love and visit regularly.”
In addition to the donations made towards the 50/50 challenge, Dingo’s Animal Kingdom has received immense support from local organisations, RB Timber Group, Toyota South Africa, PMB Power Products and The North Face, all of whom have been instrumental in establishing the foundation for this haven.
“This was really a show of incredible support from people around the world. From the US, the UK, and even residents from South Africa, people were willing to donate their hard-earned cash during a period which has been proven to be one of the toughest economic times in recent years,” said Dingo. “Reaching this goal was a huge celebratory moment for us, and we will honour these donations by creating a 5-star animal haven dedicated to the natural world.”
Any companies that would like to get involved can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Dingo’s adventures on Dingo Dinkelman’s YouTube Channel, or follow him on Facebook at @dingodinkelman, on Instagram at Dingo Dinkelman, or visit www.dingowild.com.