Help to conserve Mago National Park and some of Ethiopia's last remaining wildlife which is at risk from grazing and trophy hunting.
About the Program
Mago National Park is uncontrolled and underdeveloped, with little tourist infrastructure, but is home to a wide range of, sadly declining, wildlife, including elephants, buffalos, lions, giraffes, leopards, the list continues. But nobody knows exactly what is in there or how many - it's our job to find out.
The Park is under a lot of stress and is at a critical point – the Hamar, as well as a couple of the other local tribes, are putting the Park’s survival at risk through grazing and also poaching for hunting trophies. The Park’s management have little capacity to counter these damaging actions – they face a serious lack of resources to conduct field research or to protect the dwindling wildlife. We are welcoming explorers, researchers, wildlife lovers or people with a passion for nature and the environment that can add some serious value to this project. This is for Volunteers who love the outdoors, enjoy practical work, have an eye for detail, don't mind 'roughing it' in the depths of the African wilderness for a while.
Our preliminary research will include travelling into the national park for activities such as photographing wildlife, as well as conducting environmental education initiatives within the communities to try to change attitudes towards the natural environment. It’s likely that you’ll spend a lot more time out in the field, camping with local scouts, but you’ll get back to the relative comfort of the main camp often enough to share your stories! This is a big commitment to conservation!
The overall project goal is to assist the management of Mago National Park in developing a strong and proactive conservation strategy, whilst simultaneously supporting the Hamar pastoralists that are putting immense pressure on the survival of the National Park.
The Hamar Tribe
This is a remarkable volunteering opportunity for adventurous and pioneering individuals to join us in remote southern Ethiopia. It is home to one of the last truly authentic tribes in Africa – the Hamar - a dream for many.
Through this program you will work directly with the Hamar Tribe, helping them look past today towards a more secure future, all within their own cultural boundaries. Far from any city, within Africa’s Great Rift Valley, you will live and work amongst the Hamar – an experience that few people ever get the opportunity to do.
Our volunteer programs in Ethiopia are entirely bespoke, matched to your individual skills, abilities and interests, yet always prioritizing long-term development and conservation goals. You’ll be part of a small and super passionate local and international team. If you join us you’ll be part of something new, unexplored and groundbreaking as we’re one of very few NGOs that has ever ventured this far south in Ethiopia. You’ll be offered a great level of autonomy throughout your project. In return, we ask for self-motivation, initiative, flexibility, enthusiasm and support for our capacity-building approach.
The long-term goal of our program here is to empower the Hamar community, helping them achieve their own ambitions, within respected cultural boundaries, and to work towards conserving the last remaining wildlife in Ethiopia's Mago National Park. We work at the grassroots level, listening closely to community needs and ambitions. We don't give handouts, we want to help the Hamar to help themselves through powerful, capacity raising activities.
There are some great activities to do in your spare time, especially if you love being outdoors. You could take a walk along the dry riverbed of the local Kaskey River; go on bush walks; explore the distant mountains that are, as of yet, somewhat unexplored; take a trip to Mago National Park, or do some animal spotting a bit closer to home (countless birds and colobos monkeys are easy to spot); have a game of volleyball or badminton with the local Hamar guys; or take it easy back at camp with the magnificent views for company. You need to be more creative in the evenings for entertainment, but the vast African sky full of stars can mesmerize you for hours as you sit by the campfire.
Further afield, there are 14 other distinct tribes that you can visit. Even further than that, the rest of Ethiopia is just as unexplored as a tourist destination, but boasts great diversity - the mountainous North, the lush and tropical West and the dry and deserted, Muslim East. Not forgetting the capital, Addis Ababa, that has a great restaurant and bar scene and some fab museums. Activities are not included in the program fee but we will help make arrangements for you in advance of your trip.
You will organise your transport from Addis Ababa airport to your hotel and to the domestic airport for your internal flight. Once you get to Arba Minch, one of our friendly Big Beyond team members will pick you up from the airport and take you to a hotel in the town centre. You will spend one night in this beautiful lakeside town and then embark on the stunning 6 hour bus journey through the Omo Valley, the following ay. You'll be accompanied at all times. Get a window seat, sit back and relax.
We have two site locations - one community-owned Hamar camp where you’ll have your own en-suite room, or you’ll be sharing, depending on availability. The other location is a campsite in a Hamar village where we have our own private area. You’ll be in a furnished tent (with mattress) and Big Beyond will provide mobile facilities for these occasions including tents, bedding, shower, toilet and cooking facilities. It's simpler that you might be used to, but we promise we'll make you feel at home!
You’ll be fully catered for with three meals a day, plus water, tea and coffee. We provide a menu with a mix of international dishes (curries, scrambled eggs or pasta) and some Ethiopian food (injera and rich vegetable or meat stews). Be prepared, we are remote, many ingredients are hard to source and there’s no refrigeration, so expect a less varied diet that’s mostly vegetarian, with protein coming from eggs and pulses.