Carnivore Conservation and Research

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Assist the team in collecting data and take part in research activities with an aim to help reduce human-animal conflict in the stunning Namibian desert.

At the foot of the imposing Naukluft Mountain range lies an expanse of desert paradise. As well as boasting natural freshwater springs and savannah grasslands, the land here – known as Neuras – is home to an array of amazing animal species, ranging from leopards and cheetahs to jackals, zebras and more.

Owing to the fertility of the land at Neuras, many farmers have chosen this region as an ideal place to raise livestock, however, the presence of wild animals has resulted in conflict between the humans and animals that share this land. Tackling this issue has always been one of the project’s main focuses, and by continuing to work towards improving the farmers’ understanding of, and relationship with the local wildlife, it is hoped that Namibia’s iconic species can continue to thrive alongside the farmers’ livelihoods.

In previous years, this project has worked to relocate animals which may otherwise be deemed ‘problem’ species: rather than the farmers shooting leopards, hyenas and other carnivores on sight in an attempt to preserve their livestock, the project has introduced methods such as collaring and tracking in order to provide data to farmers and showing them that the carnivores are not as much of a threat as they may seem. In recent times, the project has adjusted its focus towards the protection of black-backed jackals and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra, employing similar methods (such as monitoring via camera traps) to understand more about each species and their relationship to the farmers, their livestock, and the surrounding region as a whole. Specifically in relation to the Hartmann’s zebra, the project is keen to gain an understanding of the species’ numbers and whether the human-animal conflict could, if not monitored correctly, result in their populations dwindling.

During your time as a volunteer, you will help to support the project’s team of conservationists in their efforts to learn more about Neuras’ wildlife, and this work will be carried out across a range of activities. From hiking across diverse landscapes in search of animal footprints to engaging with local farmers in the hopes of improving their relationship with the regional wildlife, this project offers an excellent opportunity to explore the world of conservation whilst contributing to the protection of Namibia’s wonderful wildlife.

At the foot of the imposing Naukluft Mountain range lies an expanse of desert paradise. As well as boasting natural freshwater springs and savannah grasslands, the land here – known as Neuras – is home to an array of amazing animal species, ranging from leopards and cheetahs to jackals, zebras and more.

Owing to the fertility of the land at Neuras, many farmers have chosen this region as an ideal place to raise livestock, however, the presence of wild animals has resulted in conflict between the humans and animals that share this land. Tackling this issue has always been one of the project’s main focuses, and by continuing to work towards improving the farmers’ understanding of, and relationship with the local wildlife, it is hoped that Namibia’s iconic species can continue to thrive alongside the farmers’ livelihoods.

In previous years, this project has worked to relocate animals which may otherwise be deemed ‘problem’ species: rather than the farmers shooting leopards, hyenas and other carnivores on sight in an attempt to preserve their livestock, the project has introduced methods such as collaring and tracking in order to provide data to farmers and showing them that the carnivores are not as much of a threat as they may seem. In recent times, the project has adjusted its focus towards the protection of black-backed jackals and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra, employing similar methods (such as monitoring via camera traps) to understand more about each species and their relationship to the farmers, their livestock, and the surrounding region as a whole. Specifically in relation to the Hartmann’s zebra, the project is keen to gain an understanding of the species’ numbers and whether the human-animal conflict could, if not monitored correctly, result in their populations dwindling.

During your time as a volunteer, you will help to support the project’s team of conservationists in their efforts to learn more about Neuras’ wildlife, and this work will be carried out across a range of activities. From hiking across diverse landscapes in search of animal footprints to engaging with local farmers in the hopes of improving their relationship with the regional wildlife, this project offers an excellent opportunity to explore the world of conservation whilst contributing to the protection of Namibia’s wonderful wildlife.

Farm Outreach at the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
Farm Outreach
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 at the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
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.
Camera Trap Image from the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
Camera Traps
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.
Game Counts at the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
Game Counts
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.
Feeding the Cheetahs at the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
Cheetah Feeding
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!
Making Wine at the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project
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
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).
Unfortunately this project is not available for online booking so please give us a call or send us an enquiry if you would like to discuss it.

Nikita & team.

Accommodation

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.

Accommodation Upgrade

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 $16 per person per night for a double/twin room and $23 per person per night for a single room.

Meals & Beverages

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.

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.

Getting There

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.

Visa Requirements

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.

Fitness & Skills

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.

Vaccinations

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.

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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • Transfers to and from the research site at Neuras
  • Three meals per day, tea and coffee
  • A conservation donation

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Soft and alcoholic beverages
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

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   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987