A crucial part of this project is to help keep the relationship between local farmers and the regional wildlife harmonious: where in the past farmers have taken lethal action to prevent the encroachment of wild animals on their land, the project has worked to provide the farmers with useful information which, in turn, has reduced the threat of certain species being killed on-sight. Farm outreach efforts in the past have resulted in Neuras’ cheetah and leopard populations increasing due to a reduced risk of conflict, and it is hoped that further intervention will help to protect other species, such as black-backed jackals and Hartmann’s mountain zebras from such lethal measures.
Tracking and Identification
During your time at Neuras, you will explore the region’s diverse landscapes. A minimum of two hikes are conducted each week, with each 5-10km walk leading you through deep canyons, across riverbeds, and over rocky mountains. While you will be sure to take in some incredible sights along the way, the true purpose of each hike is to learn tracking skills as you set out in search of animal footprints (otherwise known as ‘spoor’). The project coordinators will teach you how to identify these footprints (as well as animal dung, or ‘scat’), enabling you to gather information on which animals are living in the area.
As well as learning how to identify animals, time spent on each hike will also allow you to discover locations of interest which may be suitable for the placement of camera traps. These motion-sensitive cameras run constantly and are triggered by the presence of wild animals, meaning that otherwise-elusive or nocturnal animals can be captured on camera, which in turn provides the project team with valuable data (such as location and behavioural information). Additionally, you may be asked to help refresh the camera batteries, to obtain memory cards, and to help categorise the captured images.
The health of any ecosystem depends on a balance of the species within it, which is why it is important that the animals native to the Neuras region are monitored for any changes. You will therefore, participate in regular game counts to check the populations of animals such as zebras, oryxes, springboks, warthogs and ostriches, taking note of their numbers, age, sex and group compositions and any significant changes.
Neuras is home to a number of cheetahs that were rescued after being orphaned as a result of human-animal conflict. Each of the cheetahs was raised from a young age by the team at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, and by 2015 they had been relocated to Neuras to enjoy a greater sense of freedom. You will help to care for these big cats by assisting in enclosure cleans, food preparation and, if you’re lucky, even taking part in feeding the animals yourself!
Helping With Wine Making
Neuras is home to a large vineyard - sometimes referred to as the ‘driest vineyard in the world’ – and the production of wine here helps to financially support conservation efforts in the region. Depending on the season, you may be invited to assist in the winemaking process, from picking the grapes to bottling up. This activity takes place between January and March and is not a guaranteed part of your time on the project, but should you happen to get involved, you will be lucky enough to sample some of the wines yourself!
Visit to Sossusvlei
For an additional cost, you may wish to embark on a day trip to one of Namibia’s most iconic desert regions: Sossusvlei. Here, you can climb one of the world’s highest dunes (‘Big Daddy’), taking in an incredible panoramic view of this exceptional landscape. Please note that a minimum of three volunteers must take part for this activity to go ahead.
Please note, itineraries are subject to change and the below is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving into Windhoek Airport, you will be transferred to your accommodation for the night. Upon arrival, you will spend your afternoon settling into your temporary surroundings at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary and meeting your fellow volunteers and the project coordinators.
Day 2 - Transfer To The Research Site:
Your second day in Namibia will see you transfer from the wildlife sanctuary to the research site at Neuras. This drive takes around 4.5 hours, and en-route you will get to see the ever-changing stunning Namibian landscapes. When you arrive, you will enjoy dinner with your group before settling in for the night.
Day 3-15 - Project Days At Neuras:
Over the next couple of weeks, you will take part in a range of activities designed to aid the conservation of the animals local to Neuras. With a large focus on farmer outreach, you will also take part in hiking, tracking and identification activities, to name but a few, as you support the fantastic work carried out by the project team.
Day 16 - Return Transfer:
After having breakfast with your group, you will embark on your journey back to the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will spend the remainder of your time relaxing with your fellow volunteers.
Day 17 - Final Day:
On your final day, you will be transferred back to Windhoek Airport in time for your flight or, if you are staying on in Namibia, you may be able to be dropped off at an alternate address in Windhoek (please speak to a member of our travel team in this instance).
Dates, Availability & Price
Updates & Outcomes
Historically, the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project has played a crucial role in helping to reduce the human-animal conflict in Namibia. Since the project’s inception in 2006, staff and volunteers have combined their efforts to successfully rescue and release over 80 cheetahs, 30 leopards and 15 brown hyenas whilst also engaging in discussion with local farmers in the hopes of improving their relationship with these carnivores. While a focus on leopard and cheetah research took precedence in earlier years, this work has largely been completed and since 2019, the project’s focus has taken a shift towards the conservation of other species; namely, Hartmann’s mountain zebras and black-backed jackals.
As was the case with the region’s big cats, the project aims to improve a general understanding of both the zebras and jackals: while the former species is seen as a common source of meat (and a competitor when it comes to grazing, creating conflict for local farmer’s livestock), the latter can fall victim to lethal methods if they are found encroaching on the farmers’ land. Since the project has had success in the protection of Neuras’ carnivores, it is hoped that continued efforts will encourage the local farmers to forge a harmonious environment for humans and for all of Namibia’s wildlife species.
Ever considered volunteering with animals? An increasingly popular trend, volunteering with animals has the potential to transform your mind, body and soul. Check out just what you could gain should you choose to volunteer with animals in Namibia!
Human-wildlife conflict has significantly increased over the years in many parts of the world, whether this is due to battles over land, food or water, or the ever increasing illegal wildlife trade, there are sadly many reasons why wildlife and humans clash with each other daily. Namibia is one example of a country that has been heavily affected by such conflict, but what does this mean for the future of its resident wildlife?
- posted on 21/07/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
Thinking of volunteering in Namibia? See what our competition winner, Laura, had to say about her time on not one but THREE of our projects! If you leave feeling inspired, don't forget to check out all of our Namibia projects - you could be our next volunteer!
Is this trip for you?
Whilst at the research site, you will stay in a twin-share tent (on a raised platform) on a same-sex basis. While linens are provided, you may wish to bring your own sleeping bag to keep you warm during colder months (June - August). There are three outdoor bathrooms which are shared by volunteers, and showers which are heated by solar geysers. Electricity is also available in the main building so you can charge any electrical items such as phones and cameras.
At Neuras, there is the option to upgrade your accommodation (depending on availability) to one of the on-site stone chalets. These chalets come with either twin-share or double beds, an en-suite bathroom, and are all shaded by acacia and ebony trees. The rate for this is $19 per person per night for a double/twin room and $27 per person per night for a single room.
Three balanced meals per day are provided for all volunteers, with breakfast typically consisting of cereal, bread, spreads and fruit and lunch varying between wraps, burgers, pasta and a variety of salads. Dinner will be a meat or fish dish with pasta, rice or potatoes and vegetables, and with an on-site pizza oven, one night a week you will have the chance to make and enjoy your very own pizza!
A vegetarian option is also always available, and if you have any dietary requirements, please ensure you let us know.
A good level of fitness is required for this project, as it does involve hiking across a range of terrains. We advise that all participants are fit enough to walk between 10 - 15 kilometres per day, on rough ground and in high temperatures. No specific skills are required for this project, though we do ask that all volunteers arrive with a willingness to work hard and as part of a team.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
When is the best time to volunteer?
While there is no ‘best’ time of year to volunteer regarding wildlife, your decision may be impacted by the weather. Little rainfall is to be expected throughout the year, though the climate does vary depending on the season:
Summer (October to April): Throughout these months, temperatures can reach 40°C, and as a result, volunteer working times may be moved to later in the day to avoid the sun at its peak.
Winter (May to September): Daytime temperatures can reach a pleasant 20°C to 25°C, though at night they can fall to below zero. Therefore, if you are joining during these months, be sure to take a sleeping bag with you and some warmer clothes for night-time activities.
The nearest airport to your first and final stop on this project (the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary) is Windhoek International Airport. You will need to arrive between the hours of 7am and 5pm on your project start date and a return transfer to and from the wildlife sanctuary is included, as is a transfer between the sanctuary and the research site at Neuras.
Citizens of most countries, including the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, do not need to obtain a visa to enter Namibia and are granted entry for up to 90 days upon arrival. You will, however, need at least 2 blank pages in your passport for the immigration officials to use and your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.
If you are unsure of your individual visa requirements, we recommend speaking to your local Namibian embassy at least 2 months prior to travel.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Transfers to and from the research site at Neuras
- All accommodation
- 3 meals per day, tea and coffee
- A conservation donation
- Full orientation and support from an English-speaking coordinator
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance (including cover for repatriation)
- Soft and alcoholic beverages