Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia

“Two magical weeks in the Namibian desert, working on important elephant conservation work in the wild. Camping in the wild. And having an all round wild and wonderful experience. ”

Highlights

Swakopmund | Wild elephant conservation work | Namib Desert | Work with Namibian farming communities | Tracking and monitoring elephants

Description of Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia

Help to track, monitor and conserve wild desert elephants in Namibia - one of the last places in the world that these elephants can be found. They are under threat, and this project works with local people to understand and protect them.

Life is tough for both humans and wildlife that live in this area of the world. The annual rainfall only brings short respite to the limited natural water sources for farmers' animals and wildlife alike. With humans and elephants competing for the same water, conflict has developed over the past few decades, resulting in the wild elephant population decreasing. This decline is nothing short of tragic, as in only two places in the world can desert elephants be found.

Your time spent on the project will be two-fold:

1) The first part of the project will be spent at local farmsteads, building walls to protect the farmersí water sources and pumps from elephants.
2) The second component is to track and monitor elephants in the wild. The patrols help the authorities to best understand and protect these gentle giants, whilst also gaining an insight into where the elephants will go next, and which farms water sources will need protective walls.

Accommodation

One of the most exciting parts of this trip is to really get stuck in to desert life, unchanged for many hundreds of years. You will be camping in the desert with your group, cooking around camp fires and going to sleep under a thick blanket of stars- worlds away from modern day life.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Arrival day to Swakopmund is a Sunday. You can either fly into Walvis Bay (WVB) or Windhoek (WDH). We can arrange transfers to Swakopmund from each airport.
Day 2:Monday. Transfer up to Base Camp, the desert camp which will be your main home for your time on the project.
Day 3-7:Tuesday - Saturday. Construction projects on local farmsteads, helping to build walls around water sources.
Day 8:Sunday. This is a free day. You can head into the local town for a swim, a burger and a beer. Heaven after a week of building!
Day 9 -12:Monday - Thursday. Elephant monitoring and tracking
Day 13:Friday. Transfer back to Swakopmund. If you are staying for just 2 weeks this is your last night with a lovely meal in town with your co-volunteers. If you are staying for longer than 2 weeks, you have the weekend free in Swakopmund before heading back up to the desert on the Monday.

Travel Team

If you would like some help or advice, or just want to discuss your ideas for your next trip, do give us a call.

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
US pricing:
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia

Environment

Conserving elephants
This project has been running since 2004 and was established as a result of the conflict between communal farmers and in the north west Namibian desert and desert dwelling elephants, mainly centred around scarce water resources. The elephants all live in the wild and we encourage a zero tolerance contact policy. These elephants are wild, and will be left to live in the wild with minimal human contact. When tracking the elephants the 4x4 will not invade the elephant's territory and will remain at a respectful distance.

Waste
The base camp in the desert is used an experimental project for natural building materials, recycling, building home made energy generating systems such as wind generators, solar water heaters, composting toilet designs. All the refuse produced is removed from the desert environment and brought through to the towns where recycling schemes exist.

One of the most important issues in the desert is choosing non invasive camps during the elephant patrols, staying on established road tracks in sensitive areas and leaving nothing behind.

Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travellers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic, electricity usage and how to carbon offset flights.

For each traveller who goes away with us we plant a tree to offset the office carbon emissions, but also the traveller's emissions. We encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions too, via a carbon offset scheme run in conjunction with Tree Aid.

We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.

Community

Meeting local needs
The building element of this project directly helps the local community, as it allows farmers and elephants to share the same water sources safely. Without this initiative, the elephants tear at the water pumps in their eagerness to access the water - which often destroys the only access to water that the farmer has. Pumps are incredibly expensive, and if they are destroyed, it can take several years until they can be replaced.

The bi-monthly tracking projects ascertain where the elephants are and which farms might be at risk. Through thorough observation and monitoring, farms can be forewarned in the short term, and in the long term protective walls around the water sources can be built. Farmers and locals can also apply directly for assistance in this matter.

Impact on the local economy
As many local people as possible are employed on this project. Staff are employed from the immediate area which in turn supports many family members. A local man has his own business providing wood (from sustainable sources), a neighbouring farmer's wife has her own business washing the volunteers clothes at weekends for a fee. Food and fuel for the elephant patrol weeks are sourced from a small village called Uis where there is a supermarket and fuel station.

Cultural sensitivity
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Namibia.

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