The Travel Channel's Ethical Hedonist's feature on EHRA Life on the EHRA project created by one of our volunteers.
People of Change - EHRA project created by Fernando Sapelli.
Watch EHRA - Elephant Conservation Volunteer videos
Family Volunteering Project
New Family Volunteering Project Dates for 2016: 15-24th of August
The first trip for 2016 is already fully-booked, make sure you get a spot for your family for the above date which is still available.
Our first family volunteering projects were such a success in 2013, 2014 and 2015 that we will be running the project again for interested families who want to volunteer together in 2016.
We have changed the itinerary a little from our normal volunteer project to make it more family friendly and included more activities on the patrol week, keeping the children and families in mind. The past two projects have built up an elephant proof vegetable garden, in 2014 we donated a water pump and plumbed irrigation into the garden to help the farmer make the most of the garden. We also added new ways of keeping elephants away, such as 'chilli bombs' (a mixture of engine oil, chillis and elephant dung hung in ladies pantihose!) packing rocks around the garden and painting these white and reinforcing the fence that was built by the first family group. We hope now this project can be self sustaining and go from strength to strength.
The building project will also be tailored to suit the whole family and the ethos of ‘community’ remains, with families taking it in turn to be on ‘kitchen duty’ cooking over the fire for other volunteers in the group.
The project will be lead by Hendrick Munembome, EHRA’s head tracker and community liaisons manager. Hendrick has been with EHRA for the last 8 years, is also a registered tour operator and has all his first aid qualifications. Hendrick has many fascinating stories to tell about his life, is a brilliant communicator and elephant expert.
Arrival in Swakopmund by Sunday at the latest, ready for the briefing at 6.30 on Sunday evening. We recommend that everyone stays at Villa Wiese which is reasonably priced, has family rooms and is nicely decorated. Ideally families should arrive a day before in Swakopmund, so you have time to acclimatise and explore this friendly and safe seaside town.
Transfer to EHRA Base Camp +- 4 hours.
We will arrive in camp around 4pm, unpack and get settled in. In the evening after dinner Hendrick will give the group a briefing about the week ahead and health and safety issues out in the bush.
EHRA base camp in the trees!
Sleeping in the trees!
Start of build project. Early in the morning we get the vehicles packed and head out for the build site. The group will be helping a farmer who lives on the Ugab River to build a wall around a well that needs protecting from the elephants and also to stop baboons falling into the well and contaminating the water. We will need to build a wall as well as prepare the ground. There are various tasks that need completing, such as digging the ground, collecting sand and rocks, mixing cement and laying the stones on the wall. There are tasks to suit all strengths! We have a long lunch break during the heat of the day when we will return to camp and then start work around 2pm and work until 4.30-5pm. We will sleep at EHRA base camp every night.
Hendrick will introduce the group to the farmer and community and there will be a chance to really understand how the local Namibian’s live, from what they eat, to how they make their houses and what their daily life entails.
Ella from the USA and Ella from the Ugab River!
Every day a family will be on kitchen duty together which involves waking up first to make the morning coffee, tea and breakfast, to the sandwiches for lunch and the big dinner in the evening. Each evening we prepare a big healthy meal over the fire, ranging from roast chickens, spaghetti bolognese, lamb tagine, BBQ to name a few! We can cater for vegetarians as well.
Continue with build project.
Dad and Son mixing cement
Today is the last day build of the build project. We will then headback to base camp to relax – a job well done!
Ella and the completed garden
Today the group have a day to relax and explore the area surrounding base camp. In the afternoon Hendrick will take those who are interested on a nature walk (+- 3kms) and will also tell the group about different survival skills and edible plants from the desert. Today’s challenge is to bake a chocolate cake on the fire!
Chocolate cake challenge!
Washing up duty is for everyone!
View from EHRA base camp
In the evening Hendrick will give the group a briefing on patrol, covering what the aim of the next few days is in terms of the elephants we need to track and specific information on safety whilst in close proximity to elephants.
Watching elephants from safe distance
On each patrol we have a different aim, from tracking elephants we have not seen for a time, to taking ID shots that need updating of various elephants or newborns and for 2015 we are continuing a genetics project to ascertain which bulls are breeding. This involves collecting dung, which may sound like a simple task but is actually quite tricky! The more people the better for this project! On each patrol we also spend a lot of time speaking to farmers and communities and chance will be given to the group to interact with local people.
Local Herero Woman at her stall
We pack the patrol vehicles and head out early on patrol. During patrol week we sleep under the stars, with out a tent which is an amazing experience for all!
Typical patrol camp
A favourite patrol camp
Ostriches in Damaraland
Mums on top of the car!
At some point during patrol we will also pay a visit to our local school, A.Gariseb Primary School in a small village on the Ugab River called Anixab. The group will be able to meet the teachers and pupils of the school and see how the school operates. EHRA has assisted the school in renovations over the last 8 years and we are very proud to have been able to help. The school has over 280 children from the local area, all farms affected by the presence of elephants, and around 80% of these children board at the school. It is a colourful and happy place and the group will definitely enjoy the visit.
Giving out footballs to pupils of the school
On each day of patrol we will include an element of walking so that children don’t get bored on the cars for the whole day! If we head down into the wetland areas of the river system we may even have a fishing competition! Hendrick will explain how he tracks the elephants and the group will have the chance to put their tracking skills to the test. We will also have a challenge for each day, based around bush and survival skills. For those who are keen bird enthusiasts, the wetlands, river system and desert are home to some beautiful birds including Hornbills, Love Birds, Egypitan Geese, Rollers, various fabulous Eagles and other birds of prey and some stunning owls such as the Pearl Spotted Owl.
Watching elephants from the car
Elephants in the Ugab Wetlands
Trying to spot the elephants!
Today is the last day of patrol! Throughout the week you can expect to see other wildlife, asides elephant, such as black rhino which is rare but there is a small population in our area which are often spotted, springbok, oryx, kudu, giraffe, zebra! Around lunch time the group will head back to EHRA base camp, for yet another fabulous shower in the rocks and last night around the fire and sleep in the tree house!
Learning about elephants with Hendrick
The 'team' relaxing around the fire
Tree house at base camp
After a leisurely breakfast we will pack up the Toyota Quantum and head back to the coast town on Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast. We will aim to be back around lunch time and we can help make bookings for various activities which are fun for everyone including sandboarding, quad biking, desert tours, dolphin cruises and kayaking to name a few!