Having grown up exploring nature reserves during holidays and rehabilitating wildlife in his home, Pietermaritzburg-born Dingo Dinkelman established a close connection with the natural world that would impact his career path. Influenced by his father who worked for the (then) Natal Parks Board, Dingo has managed to drive conservation efforts by finding an innovative way to connect people to wildlife and fundraise – through the Dingo Dinkelman YouTube channel.
“For me, the important thing is connecting people, especially those without a prior connection, to animals,” said the award-winning Discovery Channel wildlife presenter. “We don’t want people living their lives never interacting with animals. I live a privileged life in that I get to see rhinos up close when we’re de-horning or relocating them. I get to see what happens when you push the pad of a lion’s paw or look into the face of a black mamba when it’s gaping in front of you. I’ve got to feel the strength of a crocodile, and hear the sound of a whale popping up right next to you. I want to take people into that world. I want to bring these animals into people’s living room through the camera, so they can have these experiences and their hearts can be changed.”
YouTube videos that #BreakTheNet
Having worked as an investment broker for years, Dingo maintained his connection to nature through short wildlife documentaries. But it was 2017 that became a turning point for Dingo and the world of conservation. Encouraged by friends, Dingo and his filming team entered the Cell C and Blink Pictures #BreakTheNet (#BTN) competition for which they shot a one-minute promo featuring Dingo catching a crocodile. Five videos and six weeks later, he won the competition which provided Dingo with the platform to launch his YouTube series which has racked up hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of views worldwide.
From safely removing puff adders, pythons and black mambas, to assisting in the dehorning of rhinos, relocating of hyenas and re-homing of trafficked pangolins – Dingo’s YouTube channel has come to both astound and engage audiences of all ages across the globe, bringing them that much closer to the inhabitants of the natural world.
With his dedicated film crew, editing team and his wife, Kirsty – who also takes on the vital role of self-appointed safety officer for Dingo – this has become one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels in the country. Dingo provides direction on the content, with the team coming together to create a variety of engaging series such as ‘Venom vs Flesh’ which looks at the impact of snake venom on flesh; as well as the popular ‘In Search of…’ series that uncovers some of the country’s most infamous animals.
With no shortage of content in the African bush, the team is able to launch around three videos weekly, with series episodes featuring on Mondays and Fridays, and the live streaming experience on Wednesdays. The popularity of the show has seen it garner more than 350 000 subscribers with views growing steadily, averaging 3 million views monthly and an incredible 40 million views a year.
“The black mamba and king cobra videos tend to attract a lot of attention,” said Dingo. “The comparison between king cobras and black mambas is our most popular video to date, with more than 5 million views. However, we create a lot of videos focused on conservation, because that’s at the heart of what we do. We want to make to make this a show that is entertaining for people, something that they want to watch, and this allows us to get the message of conservation through.”
Changing the fundraising model
Dingo’s team takes it a step further by innovatively fundraising for conservation causes while giving donors the opportunity to experience the impact their contribution is making through the YouTube channel: “Whether it’s raising money for the collaring of a lion, the relocating of hyena to prevent conflict with local famers, or dehorning rhino at the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, when people donate towards these causes, it’s not just a general concept. With our videos, they get to actually witness the animal that they’re helping through their donation. It’s another way for people to truly connect.”
Through Dingo Dinkelman’s YouTube channel, conservation efforts are being rewarded, and mindsets towards wildlife being changed: “One of the most common responses we’ve received through our videos is people saying: ‘I was scared of animals, until I started watching these videos, and now I respect them’. They might not want to have these animals – such as snakes – in their homes or as their pets, but they respect them and their importance in the natural world. So now, rather than be indifferent or actively killing them, people will call someone to rescue them. This is a massive achievement for us.”
Don’t miss out on any of Dingo Dinkelman’s adventures with the next excursion ‘In Search of the Killer Lions of Mkhuze’. Follow him on Facebook at @dingodinkelman, on Instagram at Dingo Dinkelman, catch his videos on YouTube at Dingo Dinkelman, or visit www.dingowild.com for more information.
Check out some recent videos here:
Pangolin relocation: https://youtu.be/Vwaw4WckBaE
Orphan rhino: https://youtu.be/X6zIZRytdbo
Black mamba: https://youtu.be/IFLXNJjB9kI