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
Family Volunteering Project Dates for 2017: 31st July - 9th August
There are still a few spaces left, make sure you get a spot for your family for the above date.
You can also download a pdf with the full itinerary here.
Our family volunteering projects have been such a success every year since 2013, and we look forward to the next one, coming up very soon.
One of our first child volunteers, Billy, visited us when he was 13, and he wrote a Blog about his trip, which you can read here.
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 building project will also be tailored to suit the whole family and the ethos of ‘community’ remains, it will be based at our partner school, A.Gariseb Primary in Anixab village and the project work will be tailored to suit the whole family.
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.
Families also take 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.
EHRA will help you organise airport transfers and accommodation bookings. Most families have chosen to go on a self drive tour around Namibia whilst they are here and we can also help you to make these arrangements. Namibia is a beautiful, safe and friendly country which is easy to navigate and well worth exploring.
Transfer to EHRA Base Camp +- 4 hours.
Transfer to our camp(+-4 hours) on the on the banks of the Ugab River, a short walk away from A.Gariseb Primary School, where the group will be working for the next few days. We will arrive in camp around 4pm, unpack and get settled in. In the evening 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 will get to school to participate in the morning’s assembly and meet the teachers and pupils of A.Gariseb School. The group will be assisting the school by repainting dormitory or classrooms. Throughout the time at the school there will be a chance to participate in lessons and interact with the pupils after school hours with sports and crafts.
The main reason for EHRA to be involved in the school is to try and promote the elephants in a positive light. Over the past 12 years EHRA has tried to encourage the community and pupils that elephants are a benefit as they do bring development to the school through the renovation work we are doing there.
EHRA has an educational project, The PEACE Project, which Hendrick leads and also focuses on schools to make sure the pupils understand how to behave when elephants are close by. EHRA plans ‘Elephant Safety Weeks’ where older pupils are trained as elephant mentors to keep the younger pupils safe if elephants are in close proximity.
EHRA focuses on the communities, to try and create situations where people are happy or at least equipped with the knowledge on how to live safely with the elephants, that they feel protected and understand the elephants so that they are accepting of living with elephants. This then helps to prevent 'problem animal' declarations.
The village and school is unique in terms of how closely they have to live with elephants and thanks to the projects at the school and the surrounding farms there is a big shift in attitudes towards the elephants.
The school is as integral a part of our anti conflict work. All the children that attend and board at the school are living on farms where elephants are roaming. This new generation need to grow up empowered with the skills and knowledge to live with elephants, something that due to poaching is lacking for their parents.
We will get organised and start the project work after assembly, then take a long lunch break during the heat of the day back at our camp. We will start work around 2pm and work until 4.30pm.
Throughout the week there will be a chance to meet local people and to really understand how 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 school project.
Dad and Son mixing cement
Today is the last day of the school project. We will then headback to base camp to relax – a job well done!
Ella and the completed garden from one of the Family Volunteer Projects
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!
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. For those who are keen bird enthusiasts, the wetlands, river system and desert are home to some beautiful birds including Hornbills, Love Birds, Egyptian Geese, Rollers, various fabulous Eagles and other birds of prey and some stunning owls such as the Pearl Spotted Owl.
Giving out footballs to pupils of the school
On Continue patrol.
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!