Assist the team with data collection of Big Cats to help with research on cheetah and leopard conservation in the stunning Namibian desert.
About the Project
With over one-third of the world's cheetah population, Namibia is at the centre of the species' struggle for survival. It is estimated that 95% of cheetah numbers in Namibia live outside of protected areas of conservation, meaning that they are readily killed by farmers who view them as a threat to livestock. Because of this, cheetah numbers are falling, resulting in their endangerment.
The Carnivore Conservation and Research Project focuses on observing and monitoring carnivores and other wildlife in their natural habitat, adding invaluable knowledge to research that is used to help sustain these often-threatened species for future generations. This project locates carnivores that local farmers think may be a problem to their livestock and collars and tracks them to record data on their movements and kills. This data can then be supplied to local farmers to show that they are not a threat to their livestock. This way the animals can stay in a more natural environment rather than having to relocate them to an animal sanctuary. Volunteer in Namibia and you will play a vital role in this process, working up-close with these incredible cats, and thus actively contributing to their protection and conservation.
The programme includes both conservation work at the Neuras Research Site and the Nambia Wildlife Sanctuary, working on research and data collection regarding the area's cheetahs and carnivores, site maintenance and helping out with the carnivores, baboons, caracals, and other animals at the Namibia wildlife sanctuary. This project provides you with the unique opportunity of experiencing the power and majesty of the continent's most magnificent big cats first hand, and to actively work towards the conservation of the species.
Prior to Arrival
To join the Carnivore Conservation and Research project you will need to apply for a work visa before travel. We will provide further information and documents for this upon booking.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving into Windhoek Airport you will be met at arrivals and transferred to the wildlife sanctuary which takes approximately 45 minutes. Upon arrival you will spend the afternoon and evening settling in and meeting your fellow volunteers as well as the facilitators.
Day 2-5 - Get involved at the Sanctuary:
For these days you will get stuck into the project work at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. This is chance to work hands on with the animals and get involved in several activities such including:
Animal Feeding - Wildlife Sanctuary
When at the wildlife sanctuary you are able to experience regular carnivore-feeds with lions, leopards, semi-tame and wild cheetahs and even with rare African wild dogs. This is a great opportunity to see these amazing animals up close. As a whole, volunteers are responsible for preparing the food for and feeding all of the animals each day.
Animal Time - Wildlife Sanctuary
A true volunteer favourite, animal time gives you the chance to spend a part of each day playing with and looking after some of the animals at the sanctuary. These interactions include one on one time with the semi-tame cheetahs and meeting the resident pack of African Wild Dogs and many other animals.
Project Work - Wildlife Sanctuary
The growing Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary needs constant repair and building work. You may be required to help with these tasks which include: Constructing new enclosures as animals arrive, Border fence patrols and de-bushing to remove invasive alien plant species. These are a real necessity to ensure the sanctuary can continue to operate and take in more animals.
Baboon Care - Wildlife Sanctuary
You will also be encouraged to help look after the resident baby baboons. This will almost definitely include taking a walk across the beautiful veldt with the baby and junior baboons, a true once in a life time opportunity.
Day 6 - Transfer to the Research Site:
After your time at the sanctuary, today you will transfer to the carnivore research site at Neuras. This transfer is about 4.5 hour’s drive from the sanctuary and as you arrive you will see the breath-taking environment in which Neuras is located before having dinner and getting some rest before your time here really begins.
Day 7-12 - Project Days at Neuras:
For the next 6 days you will be based at Neuras and will be getting involved in some of the pivotal conservation work going on here.
Carnivore Monitoring – Research Site
Go out in search of collared cheetahs and other carnivores. Based on the movements of the carnivores, the specific monitoring needs and prevailing weather conditions, a decision will be made as to which carnivores will be tracked during the day. This is important as the data collected here contributes to that given to the local farmers in the hope of reducing human-animal conflict.
Game Counts – Research Site
As a volunteer you will regularly take part in game counts along different transect routes in the study areas, numbers, age, sex and group compositions of local mammals are recorded. The information gathered from this data will help the research team to understand on which prey base and in which capacity the large carnivores subsist.
Camera Traps – Research Site
One activity which involves some incredible walks is to help set camera-traps which record 24/7. These are set and checked to record the activities of the area’s carnivores and also certain species which may have been overlooked. This helps the research team determine which species are present in the area and are especially useful to monitor animals that are more active at night.
Day 13 - Return Transfer:
Today is your last day at Neuras so after breakfast you will be transferred back to the sanctuary where you will spend the evening with all of the other volunteers and share stories.
Day 14 - Final Day at the Sanctuary:
This will be your last full day on the project where you will have the opportunity to once again get involved with the different activities at the sanctuary.
Day 15 - Transfer to the airport:
After an activity filled time on the project today you will transfer back to Windhoek airport for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans.
There is the option to enjoy a lot of hiking and exploring in the area. This offers you the opportunity to learn more about the native flora and fauna from the experts: the facilitators.
The nearest airport to the project site is Windhoek International where you need to arrive between 7am - 5pm on the project start date. A transfer from the airport to the site is included in the price, and will take about 45 minutes by car. Neuras is a further 4.5 hours from the sanctuary and a transfer is included in the price of the project.
At the research site, you will stay in luxury tents with bedding provided. However, we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag, especially during the winter. Showers are communal with hot water, and electricity is available at a nearby lodge for charging phones and cameras.
At the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary there are two accommodation options: volunteer rooms for up to two people (same gender), or large tents with a living and bedroom area to be shared by two volunteers.
Accommodation Upgrade at the Sanctuary
The adjacent Lodge at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary contains six luxurious chalets and a tranquil dining area with stunning views, a bar and a swimming pool. You can choose to upgrade your accommodation and stay at the lodge over the weekend or at the end of your stay if you wish. Lots of volunteers also take the opportunity to visit the lodge for a delicious buffet lunch on a Sunday.
Accommodation Upgrade at the Research Site
Whilst at the research site there is an opportunity to upgrade your accommodation. The upgraded accommodation is in stone built en-suite chalets, shaded by acacia and ebony trees with linen and towels provided.
The rate for this upgrade is £55 per person per week for a double room and £70 per person per week for a single room.
Three meals a day are provided. Breakfast includes toast and cereal, lunch includes pasta, wraps, burgers or stir-frys, and dinners include meat, fish, vegetables, rice, potatoes and pasta. There is also a pizza oven on site, and one night a week volunteers have the chance to make and enjoy their own culinary creations! On weekends there is often a braai (barbeque), which is a great chance to socialise and speak to people you may not yet have had the chance to. Tea and coffee are freely available throughout the day and other drinks and snacks can be purchased at the Sanctuary.
Please advise any special dietary requirements on arrival at the project. A vegetarian option is available.
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