Volunteer With Children AND Animals in South Africa
99% Rating
(14 Reviews)

Volunteer With Children AND Animals in South Africa

100% of your payment goes to this charity

The mission is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development

This educational project, which combines the education of underprivileged children and a wildlife orphanage, is a registered non-profit organisation located at the heart of the Limpopo Province of South Africa! This exceptional experience provides volunteers with the unique opportunity of not only caring for some of South Africa’s most iconic species, but also of using these animals as a tool to inspire a generation of underprivileged schoolchildren to become passionate about wildlife conservation.

You, alongside the other volunteers, will be in charge of leading the lessons as well as the activities, which the children are involved in. These include a lot more than just teaching the children, as the program is diverse and dynamic. Be it doing bush walks, learning about the negative aspects of poaching, or discussing the importance of respect, you will always be busy! Members of the project’s team will guide you and help you whenever needed, so you will never be alone!

You will spend your days experiencing the bush, helping the animals in need while educating the children of Africa. You will spend your nights playing games, getting involved with social talks and sitting around the bonfire enjoying the company of volunteers from all over the world!!

Is this unique experience for you???

So - what are you waiting for? COME JOIN US & HELP CHANGE OUR WORLD **100% of your payment goes to the charity connected with the school children.**
Highlights
  • • Take an active part in educating underprivileged children about the environment to make a real impact in their community!
  • • Help care for injured and orphaned animals as part of the educational program.
  • • Meet the community through our outreach program in the local schools and creche, and help further our impact in the village!
  • • Experience Africa by immersing yourself in the community, or visiting some of the iconic sights and areas surrounding the project’s location!!
Locations
Africa » South Africa
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
Language
English
Timeframe
Year Round
Housing
Hostel
Rondavel
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
Rates for 2017:
//
Period __ GBP __ EURO
1 week __ 460 __ 550
2 weeks __ 660 __ 790
3 weeks __ 960 __ 1,190
4 weeks __ 1,190 __ 1,390
6 weeks __ 1,690 __ 2,090
8 weeks __ 2,290 __ 2,690
12 weeks __ 3,390 __ 3,990
//
Your fees include:
- Transfers on Saturdays for arrival/departure
- Three meals per day, tea, coffee, juice
- Accommodation including bedding and towels
- Laundry
- One trip to town per week
- Working in the community
//
Your fees exclude:
- Flights, internal/international
- Travel insurance
- Personal toiletries such as shampoo, sun block, mosquito cream
- Internet and telephone charges
- Sodas, cokes, alcohol
Other Locations
Hoedspruit

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    98%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    90%
  • Value
    99%
  • Safety
    96%

Program Reviews (14)

Default avatar
Delphine
Female
45 years old
France

Exciting and meaningful experience at Daktari

10/10

I stayed at Daktari during 3 weeks from end October to mid November 2016. This was not my first holiday volunteering but Daktari provided me with a unique opportunity to both bring some of my experience to children and to be surrounded by nature and animals.

Each Monday 8 children aged 12-13 year old came from local villages to spend the week with us. Our days were organised around giving lessons to the children (mostly linked to the environment) and taking care of the animals (meerkats, mongoose, eagles, wild dogs etc.). The programme of lessons is very well prepared and detailed but Daktari is always keen for volunteers to bring their own experience and personality, and improve it if necessary. Depending on the number of volunteers present, we usually led with another volunteer a couple of lessons a day (which we chose the day before) and attended the other lessons in order to bring one on one support to the children. We also had more relaxed talks with the children on topics such as respect, substance abuse and safe sex and played board games. Overall the days were quite busy but you have some breaks to relax. There was no obligation to attend all the activities but most volunteers wanted to help and spend as much time as possible with the children. A volunteer coordinator attended most of the lessons and helped with the organisation and translation in case the children struggle to understand in English.

Daktari is situated in the middle of a game reserve which makes it a unique location too. You are surrounded by the bush and the sound of animals. This is a place where you feel very quickly at home and relaxed. The accommodation (chalets) was comfortable and to my surprise, we had hot water everyday! The food was very good too (and I'm French) and you don't have to drop bad habits like smoking (there is a nice quiet area for smokers) and drinking (for a cheap price too). There was a really nice atmosphere among the volunteers who came from everywhere.

Every Saturday we had the opportunity to go to the nearest town for shopping. I also spent an amazing week end in the Kruger Park with Greg, our guide, and 3 other volunteers. Visiting the park in a small group and accompanied by somebody like Greg who has a great deal of knowledge and passion about the animals is something you'll experience nowhere else. Greg also offers other types of day or week end excursions for Daktari.

In short, I had an unique and amazing experience at Daktari and guess what... I'm already planning to go back there for a longer period...

Sophie
Female
24 years old
Thornbury, Gloucestershire

Such a fantastic experience!

10/10

A few friends had travelled abroad and it looked like a lot of fun, and I was always incredibly jealous seeing their pictures when they got back! As it was my first time travelling solo, I decided that a volunteering project would be the best way to get out there, whilst not being completely alone. I think the thing that makes Daktari unique is the combination of working with children and animals. I was drawn to this project as very few others give this opportunity. As a volunteer, you have a real impact on the children by teaching them about job opportunities, tourism, their environment, how to look after the animals and social issues such as substance abuse. After a long week of teaching, you then have the chance to cuddle up to the meerkats at the camp, go on a Big 5 safari in the nearby Kruger park or go bungee jumping off of Blyde river canyon. It was just such a fantastic project!
At the start of both weeks, the children were so shy and quiet, but it was fantastic to see them growing in confidence and knowledge as the week progressed. By the time Thursday rolled around, we were all toasting marshmallows on the bonfire, with the children teaching us different songs, chants and dances.
The teaching programme at Daktari covered so many areas in such a short space of time, but it managed to do it in a way that kept the children engaged and motivated. As volunteers, we were encouraged to improve the lessons, so we worked on the existing knowledge hunt lesson to create a challenging scavenger hunt. The children got incredibly competitive running around the camp looking for the clues, and it was great to see them helping the other children in their team.
I was also given the opportunity to visit a local crèche as part of Daktari’s outreach programme and teach a lesson to the 3-4 year olds. It was a real eye opener, and such a contrast from my school back in England.
All in all, I have had such a fantastic experience at Daktari, and my only regret was that it didn’t last longer! It’s incredible what Ian and Michele have achieved at Daktari in 10 years, and it’s clear the impact it has on the children, animals, local communities, and the volunteers who visit. I cannot recommend it enough, and I hope very much to visit again in the not too distant future!

How can this program be improved?

The programme from a volunteer's perspective is absolutely fantastic, and I can't think of any improvements I would make (only put a big banner on your website telling volunteers to make sure they stay for at least three weeks, two was not enough!)

Default avatar
John
Male
20 years old
columbia

DAKTARI Summer Experience

9/10

My summer at DAKTARI primarily consisted of teaching local children and working with orphaned African wildlife. Working with local children proved to be the largest interaction while working at DAKTARI as students would come for five days a week and we would work with them from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. each day. We would teach the students different subjects related to the environment and eco-tourism with some lessons touching on making South Africa a better place, safe sex, respect, and substance abuse. The schedule for working with the children was very similar to that of an educational summer camp, and also involved the children and volunteers with the care taking of animals kept within enclosures around DAKTARI's camp. Taking care of the animals consisted of cleaning their enclosures and feeding and watering them every day. At times, volunteers created projects to enhance the animal enclosures and would work on those projects when students were not at DAKTARI. There were also opportunities for volunteers to go on excursions during the weekends, where every Saturday volunteers could go into town or go on other excursions such as hot air balloon tours, trips to Kruger National Park and to different wildlife centers around Hoedspruit. I had a wonderful time and would recommend looking into DAKTARI as a possible volunteering opportunity. Be prepared to work, as it can be a demanding and tiring job at times. While I worked at DAKTARI some issues arose between volunteers and managerial staff where views did not align at times, and jokes could be off-color, but the long term volunteers were great to discuss these issues with. DAKTARI gave me a wonderful, life changing experience and really opened my eyes to the world outside of the United States. I could have never predicted what the experience was like and the African bush was truly breath-taking. I greatly enjoyed working with the local children, they were very fun to teach and to play games around the camp with. I enjoyed working with all of the other volunteers and I am so glad that I met all of the long term volunteers, all of which are wonderful people and great company around a dinner table. I hope DAKTARI continues to touch the lives of the locals and to make a difference in how the environment is perceived in Africa.

Default avatar
Sabrina
Female
20 years old
Germany

Unforgettable time in Daktari

10/10

Staying at Daktari was such a great experience for me. I was impressed of the amazing people who made me feel welcome. I didn’t need previous knowlege to teach the chiledren and to take care about the animals I could easily handle it, because of the good introduction of the Daktari team.

Ian and Michelle are just like caring parents for the children, animals, the staff and volunteers.
I had the feeling to really make something useful for the the children and the animals.
I enjoed showing them the real world and the real south africa.

Reflecting the time in africa I really miss the beatiful landscape of Daktari, the morning Dogwalk, the colourful sunset, the run to „Leopard Rock“, singing and sitting around the ,,Bonfire’’ and last but not least the people from Daktari.

A big thank you to all the people who made my visit at Daktari unforgettable.

Best wishes

Sabrina from Germany

Default avatar
Jodie
Female
23 years old
Kilmarnock, Scotland
University of the West of Scotland

My Daktari Experience

10/10

My four weeks I spent at Daktari is, and will always be one of the best experiences I have ever had! If you love animals and kids this is the perfect volunteer programme for you! From the moment I arrived at Daktari and met everyone I was made to feel so welcome within their family atmosphere and the location of the camp is beautiful, the fact you can be sitting chatting and a Bushbuck can come wandering up to talk to you is just an incredible. The accommodation was ideal and I was surprised at how comfortable it was despite the fact you are out in the middle of the bush. My first day of teaching the children I was so nervous but the kids are so great and enthusiastic that they make it easy and it was actually really fun. We had such a great time with them, especially on Thursday evening's when we had our bonfire where we sang and danced around the fire, everyone is in such great spirits! Each group of children we had at Daktari were great, along with those we got to meet in the local schools, we all had so many great laughs together. For me that loves animals, being surrounded by some of the most beautiful creatures, as well as looking after them, was literally a dream come true. I also had the opportunity to do a home stay at the local village with a great family where I was made so welcome, and to experience their culture and their daily lives is fantastic, I would highly recommend it! I have so many brilliant memories from my time in South Africa, and I met some of the most amazing people! I couldn't recommend Daktari enough it is one of the greatest places I have been lucky enough to have been to, which I would go back to in a heartbeat!

Default avatar
Brigitte
Female
46 years old
BELGIUM

An incredible and unforgettable experience @ Daktari!

10/10

A couple of years ago, I watched a documentary on the French television about Daktari.
I had been thinking for a while to do something different during my holidays, and this year was the year!

I have had the chance to spend 3 weeks at Daktari and take part in the Alternative Teaching Program, as we welcomed older students from the nearby community.
Very fast I was asked to lead a class and, although I did not have a teaching experience, the fact that I am in my mid-forties (with a bit more work and life experience than the other volunteers) was an advantage as I could share my own experiences.

Throughout the week, we helped the students writing a CV, creating a cover letter, practicing job interviews. We talked about the job opportunities in the tourism industry as, surprisingly, they actually don’t know much about them, as most of the students are not in contact with the tourists visiting South Africa. The visit to the nearby Big Five reserve was one of the highlights of my stay. Not only did we have the chance to see a leopard on our way, the students had the opportunity to talk to some of the managers of the reserve who explained their daily tasks and how they got there. It was very motivating! We visited the workshop, the kitchen, housekeeping and talked to the camp manager.

Back at Daktari, we also worked with the students on their presentation and debating skills. We had a lot of fun during the debate on ‘Girls are better students than boys’, where the boys had to defend the statement and the girls had to disagree! The other debate we had fun with was on ‘Marriage to more than one person should be legal’. During the exercise, the students came with strong opinions to express their agreement or disagreement.

The rest of the week, we stuck to the normal teaching program. We talked about Plastic and the environment, and I even learned a few things! This is why I love being part of a community with volunteers coming from all horizons, having different backgrounds and coming from all over the world. You learn so much!

We tried to illustrate as much as possible the class, using for example the video of the Harley Davidson that was washed away by the tsunami in Japan and found more than a year later on a beach in Canada, to explain how far plastic or rubbish can travel in the ocean.
Also we made drawings to explain the different cycles (breathing, water, life) and the consequences if something went wrong. If the local community doesn’t take care of the animals and the environment, tourists will no longer go to South Africa, reducing job opportunities in their area but it might also impact my job in Belgium as I work in the airline industry. We live in a world where everything is connected.

I must confess, it has not always been easy. First, at the beginning of the week, the students were shy but after playing a game at the end of the first evening or playing football in the early morning, they opened up. Also taking care of the animals brought us together.
Secondly, some of the problems the community is facing are tough. During the social talks, we talked about difficult topics related to respect, culture and traditions (like forced marriage, rape and poaching). The students were asking for some advice and it is so difficult when you don’t have an answer to give them and when you have to tell them that sometimes they will have to choose between bad or worse, to be silent or to stand up and in this case to be ready to cut ties with some people (as they might not believe or understand you or minimize the problem). Reporting a crime is not that easy, especially if it concerns somebody you are close to or if you expect retaliation…
I thought it was important to show the video of Lady Gaga ‘Til it happens to you’.
This song is directed to victims of rape - but when you hear the lyrics, it can be addressed to anybody who has been emotionally or physically abused or has suffered any kind of pain whether it is harassment, bullying, depression, drugs, alcohol, losing someone, failing at something, being humiliated, being betrayed...
We debated amongst the volunteers about whether we should show or not the video as the content is pretty violent and we decided to show it. To be honest, I was actually unsettled (and not the only one) by the reaction of some of the students who thought the video was ‘cool’. It was not the reaction we had expected on such a difficult topic. Obviously the message ‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels’ didn’t get through. Rape is a scourge that is minimised and victims are not recognised as such. There is still a lot to do in this area to make them realize how much damage such an event can have in someone’s life.

Anyway, at the end of a very busy week, it was heart-breaking to see the students go. They had become our friends and I want to know what they will become in the future. Hopefully we will stay in touch.

I only made a small contribution but I hope that for some of the students I made the difference. One of them told me I was ‘inspiring’, another one said I was ‘motivating’. I wanted them to become ambassadors, to teach their community what they have learned at Daktari because I believe in education.
I also found out, through the comments of the other volunteers that I was good at teaching and they were impressed about all the stuff I knew. I like to keep myself informed because knowledge, just like education, is power.

To finish, I was really happy when Daktari gave Patience and Thato a job. They were both very shy at the beginning of the week but they have really grown during the week and increased their self-confidence.

The students just need a little push and that is what Daktari and the volunteers are striving. We want to educate and make sure the students act responsible and think long term and create awareness of animal welfare. Their future is now in their hands!

It was definitely an incredible and unforgettable experience!
Keep on the good work!

Default avatar
Mara
Female
19 years old
Switzerland

An awesome and unforgettable experience!!

10/10

I could only spend a few weeks at Daktari because I had to go back to school, but I really enjoyed the time there. It's no problem if you don't have any experience teaching or taking care of animals. You'll get used to everything very quickly! You'll never get bored, there is always work to do! The lessons are interesting as they aren't just the usual subjects you normally have at school. You teach the kids about things that are more important for life than math or history. The accommodation was good and the pancakes on sundays were awesome! I especially loved the animals! The marmosets and squirels jumping around everywhere, the porcupines that visit the Lapa every evening and all the other animals that walk around freely, but also the meerkats, the mongooses and all the others that are in the enclosures.

You meet a lot of people from all over the world a
nd even though I was sad when they left you always meet new volunteers with whom you have fun and it's like one big family.

The work with the kids was inspiring. It was great to see how some of them changed in only five days. At first they were shy and with some of them it wasn't easy in the first few days, but when they opened up, talked to you and asked you for help instead of hiding and refusing to communicate in any way it's very rewarding.

You are also very close to Kruger Park and spend your weekend there on safari. We even managed to see the Big Five and a baby hyena!
It's a unique experience and you learn a lot. I wish I could have stayed longer! I miss living in the bush surrounded by all kinds of animals, playing cards in the evening, riding in the back of the Bakkie to Leopard Rock and spending time there at sunset. The dog walks just aren't the same in Switzerland. You'll never see any giraffes here and you don't expect to see any leopards. I'll never forget it! The weeks I spent at Daktari were probably the best of my life.

Default avatar
Marloes
Female
24 years old
Nederland
Other

A life changing experience!

10/10

Daktari is a place filled with love. Love for the animals, love for nature, love for the children... It's impossible to describe what the people and the place can do with you, everyone makes you feel more than welcome! It feels surreal to be surrounded by the beautiful African nature and the extraordinary sounds that come with it (have you ever heard the sound of hyena?!)

Teaching the children is an experience that also teaches you; the African way of life is quite different from what we're used to. The children from the little towns in the neighbourhood will show you what their customs are, most of the time amongst a little naughtiness like you see more often with kids their age. The result is a very interesting interaction in which you'll have to try your very best to convince the children that some of the things you're saying can actually help them in their further life!
The fact that you get to work with not only children, but the animals as well makes a perfect combination for a life changing experience. It's so cool to be close to and take care of those beautiful African creatures!

I was at Daktari for just two weeks (warning: this is too short!) and I still feel the impact that the experience has on my everyday life. Daktari; the place but also the volunteers from all over the world, the children and animals help you to see and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you everyday.

Go for it!

Default avatar
Babette
Female
24 years old
Ghent, Belgium
Other

Daktari's impact will last a lifetime

10/10

I've been to Daktari in June, 2014. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I can't even write about it without smiling.

When I arrived at Daktari I immediatly felt home. The staff is super friendly and the other volunteers became friends. I really look up to Ian and Michelle, you absolutely will love them. Ian is like a living jokemachine, give him a word, he'll give you a joke. I've never slept so well in my life. You fall asleep, listening to the wonderful sounds of the wild.

As a volunteer your job is to take care of the animals and teach the children. By volunteering you can really make a difference in the life of the kids. Don't be nervous about the teaching part or your english, it will be fine, I promise!

I'll never forget our trip to Makalali Private Game Lodge. We go there to teach the children about job opportunities. As we were driving through the reserve, the children were excited to spot wild animals. They mostly never get to see that side of beautiful South Africa, their heritage. Happiness was written al over their faces when they saw a zebra or a giraffe or...
Another moment I really loved was going to Leopard Rock. We went there with the volunteers to spot the first star. The view on top of the rock is amazing.

If you love animals and want to make a change in the children's life, and the life of your own, don't doubt and just go!
The memories will last a lifetime. I now I have to go back someday.

Hope to see you there,

Babette Verheecke,
Belgian volunteer.

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Andreas
Male
24 years old
Ghent, Belgium
Other

HIGHLY recommended

10/10

I was at DAKTARI twice over the last few years and can only recommend it!
The staff is always friendly, the kids are eager to learn and there's just no other place you can interact with some of the rarest animals of South Africa! I absolutely loved it all the way thru!
My first stay I was a long-term volunteer, and I've never felt so at home! You truly become a part of a big, very big, family and have the chance to raise amazing animals!
As a regular volunteer (my second stay) you'll be teaching children for the most part of you time. This includes, teaching about conservation, HIV, drugs, job opportunities... everything these kids DESPERATELY need. As well as working with the children to care for the orphaned/injured animals and seeing there faces light up when they first see a caracal/meerkat/......

I still miss this place every single day, go for it, you won't regret it!!!

All the best from Belgium,
Andreas Boussery

Default avatar
Laura
Female
24 years old
France
Other

A unique experience!

10/10

I have spent 5 weeks in Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage, an amazing program that allows volunteers to work with local children as much as with wild animals. Yhe perfect mix! Not only you teach the children about saving environment, animals and other matters, but you also learn about them and their way of life which is quite different from ours. It's very enriching and I would say that you learn from them as much as they learn from you. You also work and live among the animals, and the arrival of a new one is always very exciting!
Volunteers also have the possibility to meet local people from the near village, by spending a night within a family. A unique experience I highly recommend...
Daktari is a family size program, on the day you arrive you immediately meet all the people that work here, including the foundators, and you quickly feel like at home. The relationship with other volunteers is great because everybody is very willing, and you can meet people of every ages and from every places of the world.
Finally, when volunteering at Daktari, I would say that you feel very useful and it is an experience you will never forget.

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Camille
Female
24 years old
Toulouse, France
Other

An amazing experience

10/10

If you want to live and amazing, adventurous, exciting and moving experience you can find all of this in Daktari.

My month there was unforgettable ; I learnt how to take care and love animals (and it was not that evident for me when I came), how to build an eagle cage or create a nice plant tube ! But most of all, I met wonderful, open-minded and kind people : children, staff and volunteers.

I have so many great moments in mind that it's difficult to choose one to tell you... But one of the best was seeing the kids getting really interested while we were giving lessons or having fun with the games.

I promise, you will love it, at least as much as me.

Camille

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Monica
Female
42 years old
London, UK
Cornell University

A Very Special Volunteer Experience

10/10

Daktari was a great experience - from getting to know the animals to learning to cook pap and helping out in the eco club at Maahlamele school. But while caring for ailing animals is good and coming up with enrichment ideas is fun, it was the educational aspect that attracted me and that left the most lasting impression.

I've done a number of volunteer placements focused on wildlife research, protection and rehabilitation, but this one was special because you could see the visible difference in the kids even after just a few days of getting attention with their maths and English, being engaged in conversations and being challenged to think through their role in the social and natural environment. It's not always easy and there are hiccups, but it's such an amazing experience to see them get up on the rock by the pool to get their completion certificate - sometimes maybe the first time their efforts have been acknowledged formally.

It's astonishing that they live an hour from Kruger Park but have never been and most don't really appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna at their doorstep or why it's important to protect it.

It's amazing what Michelle and Ian have accomplished and that Daktari keeps moving forward so there are new graduates of the eco clubs and the one week program that are moving forward in life along the path Daktari showed them. It's an inspiring blueprint for bringing together education, wildlife conservation and giving a helping hand to under-privileged children.

How can this program be improved?

Make the minimum period 2 weeks - a few days or a week is too short for volunteers to contribute and is more of a distraction. Ideally, it should be 3 weeks but that would not fit typical holiday length, so probably not practical.

Default avatar
Tim
Male
42 years old
Manchester UK

The BEST Experience EVER

10/10

I first went to Daktari for four months in 2010. The main reason for going was to satisfy my ambition for a placement working with animals, both to care for the sick and orphaned that are looked after there and also to learn more about the wild animals that surround the project, in the beautiful and unique bush environment that borders the Kruger Park.

Other than the animals, the main aim of the project is to educate the under-privileged local children that live in the nearby villages who have not had the chance to learn about their natural heritage and the respect that the environment they live in deserves. I was amazed how much helping these children had an impact on me, having never been drawn to teaching beforehand. In turn it was incredible to see the impact we had on them, after a five day program where they had the pleasure of spending time in the bush and the opportunity of working alongside international volunteers and the wonderful staff at Daktari. The smiles on their faces as they said goodbye and the hope that they held in their hearts after what they had gained from the experience, whether it be a minor thing or something more substantial, makes Daktari truly unique in its priceless quest.

Michele and Ian, who established the foundation, are absolute diamonds and are two of the most amazing, caring and hardworking committed people I have ever met, and who I can, I hope, now call friends.

I have since been back in 2011 and 2012 (and will continue to do so when finances allow), where I was pleased to see how any donations needed and gratefully received have led to many improvements, and likewise thrilled to get the same sense of soul and aspiration that I received from the project during my first experience. I am absolutely certain that Daktari will have a special place in my heart forever.

Tim Marriott

How can this program be improved?

This program can (and will) only improve with constant and ongoing support. Volunteers are a necessity and there will be no regrets in donating to this project.

About The Provider

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The mission of DAKTARI is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development

Every Monday, eight new students come to DAKTARI’s camp to spend the week building their knowledge of the environment and wildlife. They attend lessons, do activities,

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