Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary - What Does The Future Hold For Volunteers?

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary - What Does The Future Hold For Volunteers?

Posted by Connor Whelan on 27th Jan 2016

After Rudi, the co-founder of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, told us all about the origins of the sanctuary we wanted to press him, Marlice (his wife) and Dara ( who works with them at the site) to tell us more about what volunteers can expect this year and how 2015 went from their point of view. First up we asked if any big events had happened throughout 2015…

Dara: Well we got Milo. That was a big event.

It was at this point that Rudi and Marlice began laughing and we didn’t have a clue why. It became abundantly clear straight away when in his matter-of-fact Namibian voice Rudi announced without a word said before or after…

“Milo is a goat.”

Now as much as we all enjoy a good goat story, we assumed that this may not have made it onto the list of the biggest highlights of last year and we were right.

Dara: You went up to the Mangetti that would have been a big one. Another was Neauras and the first big production of our own wine. It was the year the research sites really took off. It was 2012 they started, and 2013 the year the volunteers started going, but it was the year just gone that things really started to step up. I think it’s because it’s something people have never seen, like the vastness of Kanaan is incredible.


Marlice: People are finally starting to get the full picture of the two properties and that is what conservation is really like in Namibia. You can’t compare it to South Africa and Zimbabwe. It’s not the same, but if you’re just at the sanctuary you don’t get the full picture of what it’s really about. So yeah, I think I’d say that’s the biggest highlight that we got!

Rudi: For me it was that last year we finally started getting recognition. National Geographic picked up on what we do and we had a student from Duke (University in America) who did a project on our “rapid response.” Now we’d never called it rapid response, but she took it back to her university and they in turn took it to National Geographic and they said that what we were doing was unique. We respond to human-wildlife conflict and this is how we do it. They said that we prevent human-animal conflict at the cost of $7 per hectares which had never been done before. We are now getting the recognition for this, and the government are now following this example.

Rapid Response

That incredible piece of information seemed like a good place to leave 2015 and head into the current year, so we wanted to find out about any new things volunteers might be able to get up to if you head over to Namibia in 2016!

Rudi: We are now trying to fundraise to try to get volunteers to come with us on these rapid response events. If a farmer calls you or there’s a poaching event and we need to go and help we want to be able to take volunteers with us so that they can see first-hand the problems we are facing.

Marlice: At this stage you can put about 4/5 people max in a car. You still have to put a capture cage in there too, and if we fly because it’s too far you can only take 3 max so it is difficult so this is something we want to look into.

Rudi: We are also beginning to look at courses now for more vet training. We will now have a permanent vet on site from the end of February if she passes her exam, and then we will start with the vet courses.

There will be three courses in total we will be running and they are; an animal rehabilitation course (that we are already running), school groups who will do a one-week conservation course, and then this new vet one. We have a guy at the sanctuary who is already trained in field guiding, so that may be another course we start this year.

It already sounds like there will be a lot going on at the sanctuary in 2016, but before they left we wanted to check what the grand plan for the sanctuary was and what the future hold for Rudi, Marlice and of course all of the Namibian animals!

Rudi: Well this year we are continuing to look into the human-animal conflict study. We have applied for a research permit in the south-west for Spotted Hyena, that’s Neuras and Kanaan, because we get a lot of reports of conflicts with spotted Hyenas and the last official report on them was done in 1978 so it’s about time somebody looks at it again. Spotted Hyenas are high on the priority list for us.

Baby Baboon

The other long term plan concerns the baboons. We are planning to do a research project on how we can reduce the baboon conflict, because we now sit with baboons where we sat 10 years ago with Leopards and Cheetahs. They just keep coming in because nothing is done at the interface and the outlet side of things. Where can we re-introduce them? Can we reintroduce them at all? So Marlice and our vet will be looking at that. Our other new project is our wild dog and elephant project up in the North West. The thing is we never thought we would be able to reduce the number of Cheetahs coming in until we stepped back and took a look at the bigger picture. How does it work? How do they move? Where are they? What do they eat? It is only then you will start coming up with innovative ideas about how to stem the tide of animals coming into you.

We can’t wait to see what the team in Namibia come up with to solve the issue an overwhelming number of baboons coming into the sanctuary, and as they have a history of ground-breaking conservation methods we are sure they will be able to help ease the situation. To keep updated about the sanctuary watch out for future blog posts, or if you would prefer something slightly more hands on you can find out more about the project and research sites here!

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