Elephant conservation project in Namibia

One week construction, one week elephant patrol. This award-winning volunteer project places you amongst the elephant and human communities of Namibia, in a quest for harmony.
A week of community projects, including: building water enclosures and visits to local schools Elephant patrol duties include: herd tracking a data collection Daily opportunities to observe elephants from close proximity
£945To£4395 excluding flights
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11 Days
Small group
Group size
Up to 14 people
More info
You can volunteer on this fascinating project for 11-81 nights!
Make enquiry

Description of Elephant conservation project in Namibia

Become part of an elephant conservation project in the deserts and wilderness regions of Namibia. There are countless conservation tasks to help out with, not least of all the camp cooking. Joining a team of dedicated researchers and conservationists will allow you to understand more about not only the elephants but also the local Namibians who are learning how to live harmoniously with one of the largest animals on earth.

Human conflict with elephants, through poaching and farming, has greatly impacted on herd numbers. Although desert elephants in Namibia have become protected, thereís still lots to be done in order to keep populations increasing as well as ensuring their relationship with humans is harmonious.

Local Damara and Herero people often donít know what to do when encountering an elephant. After all, these gigantic beasts can damage precious water facilities and cause further threats to livestock and farmland.

Your participation in this project will not only place you in close proximity to Namibiaís elephants but youíll also become part of a team attempting to untangle tension between humans and animals.

Helping to build protective walls around water facilities, patrolling areas against poachers, and undertaking school building projects, are just some of the ways that you can help to diffuse elephant issues. Make sure you find out more about which voluntary donations to schools are needed most.

Youíll also be asked to collect data, record behaviour and track herd movements. This is usually completed on week two, after a week of construction and building projects. Getting out in the field is an amazing experience and much more interactive and informative than any safari.

By improving the lives of local Namibians youíll also help the elephant populations. Elephants are one of the cornerstones of the regionís natural ecosystem. They dig the earth with their big tusks, assist with pollination through seeds in their dung, and maintain Namibiaís biodiversity without humans having to lift a finger. However, elephants need you to help them in their sustainable quest for a happy, harmonious and healthy environment.

Price information

£945To£4395 excluding flights
Convert currency:
You can volunteer on this fascinating project for 11-81 nights!
Make enquiry

Check dates

2023: 1 Jan, 15 Jan, 29 Jan, 12 Feb, 26 Feb, 12 Mar, 26 Mar, 9 Apr, 23 Apr, 7 May, 21 May, 4 Jun, 18 Jun, 2 Jul, 16 Jul, 30 Jul, 13 Aug, 27 Aug, 10 Sep, 24 Sep, 8 Oct, 22 Oct, 5 Nov, 19 Nov, 3 Dec

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1 Reviews of Elephant conservation project in Namibia

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing the elephants up close and personal nearly every day.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to work hard.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The project is a good one -- building enclosures for water tanks to provide water for livestock. Otherwise the elephants drink the livestock water and the locals shoot the elephants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Yesterday, we completed an evaluation form from the organisation in which I provided detailed information about the administrative problems in the way this project is run. This is a summary. EHRA, apparently, was founded by a person named Johannes. We didn't know that he even existed until we passed his truck on the road and someone mentioned who he was. He or his wife, Rachel, should have done the initial briefing, using that time to inform, engage and excite us about the project. Instead the very inexperienced Build Week guide was in charge and the briefing was useless. Johannes is missing opportunities for increasing the number of volunteers and for adding financially to EHRA's budget. He has no idea about the financial abilities of those on the project -- if we thought it was run well, we might have made a substantial financial contribution to the work.
In addition, the food was dreadful! Here are 14 people doing hard, physical labor and the food is both insufficient in quantity and bad! We had porridge all but 3 mornings for breakfast. I survived on Wheatabins with a little cinnamon and sugar, because I can't stand porridge, finally reverting to my own stash of Snickers bars when I couldn't stand it any more. (Eating chocolate before noon is sort of like drinking alcohol before 4:00) One of the evening meals was good, two were decent, but the others were not good. We've had more than 6 weeks of camping experience in Africa over the last 18 years and have had fabulous food cooked over campfires (which was the case on our latest adventure), so we know it's possible. EHRA needs to hire a cook to plan and cook attractive, nutritious, and delicious meals, even if it means charging people more money. I have no problem with "duty teams" (participants doing the cooking and clean up), but during Build Week (where the guide was checked out most of the time), the duty teams were basically left to their own devices to follow various recipes, most of which should tossed into the nearest trash bin. Volunteers have paid money and are giving of their time. They should be fed properly.

All of this said, the guide during Patrol Week was excellent. He engaged with everyone, made sure the cooking was done promptly and correctly (which didn't help some of the recipes!). There is a notebook with photos of individual elephants and information about them and their families. Frankly, I expected it to be more comprehensive and more up to date. I thought that was part of what we'd be doing during Patrol Week. Patrol Week basically was like a regular safari except that we were only looking for elephants.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your review and the points you have raised. I have spoken with Rachel and have been told the following:

Regarding the briefing Rachel had very bad flu at the time and so was unable to meet everyone and do the briefing as she does normally like to do. The build week guide is a FGASA guide who has worked with them for 3 months and they believe him to be very hardworking and capable.

She will take your points regarding food on board and look to improve this. They do spend a lot of money on the food the reason is that if people have spent all day working really hard, there is nothing better than looking forward to dinner and having a great meal. The way that the duty system works is good and it is meant to foster that feeling of being a community. Looking after other people and taking care over cooking everyone a lovely meal is a nice thing to do for each other and it helps to create a caring environment. During your time there, there were mixed reviews of the food with some enjoying it and others saying simpler recipes and more variety would be better, so this will now be looked at.

Thank you again for your review and the points raised and we hope you enjoyed your time on the project.

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


Tracking and monitoring the desert elephant in the southern Kunene Region of Namibia is vital in the efforts to restore healthy human Ė elephant relations. The data that is collected helps project staff to ascertain the positions and behaviours of the desert elephants and as a consequence, they are able to monitor them and help prevent any situation that may cause conflict with local communities.

As the desert-dwelling elephants of Namibia are still adapting to the end of poaching and over-hunting with vast areas of land now open to them, their movements and habits are still transient and largely unknown. The accurate data collected by the project is essential in changing this situation so the project can understand how best to preserve the species. This is currently the only organisation providing accurate data to the Namibian government on the movements of desert elephants.


The Namibian Desert Elephant Project works directly with local communities to protect vulnerable water-source structures from damage. This work, which volunteers are a vital part of, not only reduces human-elephant conflict but also benefits the communities living in in the elephantís roaming areas.

The Desert Elephant project works on the belief that education is also an important tool in safeguarding the future and conservation of the countryís desert elephants. Volunteers also help with this effort, providing the local communities with information about the importance of conserving this magnificent species, and teaching strategies for living peacefully alongside them.

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