SOUTH AFRICA’S MINI WILDLIFE WARRIORS HEAD TO THE STATES
IMAGES: KIRSTY DINKELMAN
Within the last decade, Dingo Dinkelman – aka South Africa’s ‘Steve Irwin’ – has become a globally renowned conservation crusader, leveraging social media to further his causes. He has racked up more than 400 000 subscribers on his Dingo Dinkelman YouTube channel – one of the fastest growing channels in the country – averaging 3 million monthly viewers and more than 40 million views a year. And his three children Taylor (13), Maddy (11), and Rex Dinkelman (8) are following in his footsteps!
This dynamic trio of mini-wildlife warriors has been asked to join dad and speak at one of the world’s biggest and most impactful animal influencer events, Animal Con USA, which is taking place in Orlando, Florida from 15 to 17 September. Here the Dinkelman kids will join a panel discussion on Conservation in Africa with a focus on using social media to promote conservation initiatives.
“My kids are fortunate to live life in the African bush, enjoying experiences that very few others have experienced, particularly from such a young age, and they’ve always wanted to share this with other kids,” explained Dingo. “Our conservation efforts, everything we’re doing to save the natural environment, really means nothing if the next generation doesn’t get involved. I can take it so far with my wildlife videos, but for kids to hear and see it being done by people their own age, I feel it can make an even bigger impact.”
Growing up on a farm in the Hillcrest area of KwaZulu-Natal, the kids spend their days collecting eggs, feeding lambs, and training parrots – as might be typical of traditional farm life. But, for the Dinkelmans, it goes a lot further than that. An avid reptile lover, young Rex tends to some 200 snakes a day, while the three of them often accompany their dad on conservation missions, which include dehorning orphaned rhinos, relocating wild lions, endangered brown hyenas and pangolins, as well as releasing indigenous snakes into the wild.
The children are also involved in preparations for Dingo’s Animal Kingdom, a planned sanctuary for animals and a base to connect people with nature while generating funds for conservation. Dingo has purchased a 20-ha farm in KZN with his children on hand to help with fencing, clearing vegetation and planting indigenous trees for the animal kingdom.
WHO’S WHO IN THE DINKELMAN CONSERVATION WORLD?
TJ is the oldest of the Dingo Kids and, with her outgoing personality, she’s definitely a mini-Dingo! Her love for the natural world is evident, but TJ has a special place in her heart for the feathered critters. She loves the swans and macaws on the farm and spends a lot of her time working with the macaws and training them.
Gentle Maddy is the next one up and her compassionate nature sees all the farmyard animals flocking for some motherly love. Maddy cares for all the fluffy, furry friends – but that doesn’t mean she shies away from the more dangerous creatures! She’s often found with a snake wrapped around her neck or playing with Girlie, the American alligator.
Fearless Rex is drawn to animals of a more slithering and scaly variety. Crocodiles are his absolute favourite and he inspects and chats with them all every morning. This is followed by a walk through the snake room where he checks which enclosures need cleaning and how everyone is feeling.
THE DINKLEMAN TRIO ON SOCIAL MEDIA
A key aspect of Dingo’s extensive reach has been leveraging social media platforms to reach a new audience. His drive has been to ‘convert the unconverted’ by exposing people who might have had no connection with nature to the realities of the wild, igniting a passion for something that might’ve frightened them previously. This is a trend that’s been picked up by his kids, who originally launched the Dingo Kids YouTube channel, as well as launching their own Instagram accounts; Taylor Dinkelman, Maddy Dinkelman, and Rex Dinkelman. Taylor – or TJ as she’s known – has also been running the impactful Instagram and Facebook accounts for Dingo.
“We are super excited to be attending this year’s Animal Con USA, we just cannot wait to be there,” commented TJ on the upcoming trip. “This is the biggest animal influencer event in the world and we’re looking forward to meeting some of our idols while sharing what we’re doing in South Africa. Hopefully, we can get more followers, reach more people, and make a difference.”
This is the second Animal Con USA and is set to welcome the top animal content creators from YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and TV. Speakers will take to the main stage as well as panel discussions with the audience able to meet and greet favourite personalities. To find out more about who’s involved in this global event, visit www.animalconusa.com.
Don’t miss out on any of the Dinkelman’s adventures by checking out www.dingowild.com. Follow Taylor, Maddy, and Rex on Instagram or Dingo Dinkelman on Instagram, Facebook, Rumble, Patreon, and ‘Dingo Dinkelman Reloaded’ on YouTube.