Experience big cat conservation in Namibia

Guest blogger Jack Plumb, of NGO Frontier, profiles a wildlife project where two African deserts collide in Namibia…

On the south west coast of Africa where the Namib and Kalahari deserts collide sits Namibia. As one of the newest and most sparsely populated countries in Africa, Namibia is a wildlife lover’s dream. Endless desert skies, sweeping sand dunes and densely wooded bushveld set a pristine backdrop to nature’s finest displays.

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Despite its apparent harsh climate, Namibia is home to two of the world’s most expansive national parks: Etosha National Park and Namib-Naukluft Park. Living amongst its endless beauty is a rich melting pot of cultures and traditions.

Frontier operates the Namibia Carnivore Conservation project which gives you the chance to work alongside biologists tracking and monitoring cheetahs and other big cats in the wild. Track and capture the world’s fastest land mammal in a truly wild and breathtakingly beautiful country.

Life as a volunteer on the project

You will spend the majority of your time assisting biologists and conservation workers in tracking and monitoring cheetahs and leopards. When based at the main reserve your tasks may include: game counts, box trap checking, carnivore capture and immobilization, camp maintenance and data analysis. When spending time at the remote field site your tasks may include: GPS tracking, night observations, birds of prey monitoring and data entry. Additionally you will occasionally be caring for animals at the rescue and release centre, giving you hands on experience of wildlife and animal rehabilitation.

When you’re not assisting in essential conservation work, Namibia is a stunning country to explore. For any budding photography or wildlife lover, you’re in for a treat!

Accommodation

You will be staying in a large volunteer house with shared bedrooms in the wilds of Namibia, close to Windhoek. There may be limited running water, and during storms there is the possibility of power outages. Phone signal and internet access is limited, but available in certain areas of the camp.

Food

Three basic meals are provided from the camp stores, comprising meats, vegetables and staples such as rice and pasta. Dinner is typically a hot meal and occasionally a braai (barbeque), and vegetarian options can be provided.

Recommended for… Adventurous conservation inclined travellers interested in contributing to important scientific research. This project would be especially enjoyable for anyone looking for a truly wild and natural experience of Africa and a desert climate.

Be aware that… The placement lasts for three weeks with the option to extend by one week, and departures take place monthly from March to October.

About the author: Jack Plumb is an Online Journalism Intern at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Check out Frontier’s blog Into the Wild for more gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information about travel and volunteering opportunities available please visit www.frontier.ac.uk.

Namibia: Volunteering in the world’s largest conservation area

Guest blogger Kat Ogilvie, of NGO Biosphere Expeditions, profiles one of their award-winning trips

Namibia is a leading example in the field of nature and wildlife conservation and the protection of animals and the ecosystem, not only in Africa, but in the world. Almost half of Namibia is under some sort of protection, whether it’s through national parks, communal conservancies or private game reserves. All of the work undertaken by Biosphere Expeditions contributes to the rich biodiversity of Namibia.

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The work – safeguarding big cats, elephants and other species of the African savannah

This expedition will take you to the beautiful Khomas Hochland (highlands) in central Namibia to conduct a survey of elephants and African cats, mainly leopard, but also cheetah and carcal, and their interrelationship with humans and prey animals such as giraffe, eland, kudu and zebras. As part of a small team you will learn some bush skills and then follow elephants and cats on foot or in the expedition vehicles to record information about the animal’s behaviour patterns. You will also set camera and live traps, conduct game counts and you may assist with the cat capturing and collaring, All this in effort to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and create a sustainable future for all.

Accommodation – comfortable bush camp style

The base consists of stone chalets with beds, linen, mosquito netting and furniture. There are hot showers, toilets, a communal lounge, rest areas with hammocks, and a kitchen.

Biosphere Expeditions has amassed several awards and this trip in particular has been honoured by National Geographic Traveller magazine’s Tours of a Lifetime list. It has also been honoured in the Wall Street Journal’s Best Volunteer Travel list and the Business Insider’s Best Volunteer Vacations list. Biosphere carefully select long-term projects always run by local scientists that make a significant conservation impact.  They don’t just go there once; they keep going back until the work is done, even if it takes years. By contributing, the work you put in is the reason why the research can be carried out.

Recommended for… Anyone looking to take part in award-winning conservation projects that make a difference. You don’t have to have any experience or qualifications and there are also no age limits so anyone can get involved.

Be aware that… Most of the work will be done from vehicles; however, you also need to be able to walk for at least 5km, even when it is hot and in broken, mountainous terrain for some of the activities.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • One of the expedition’s scientists was made a laureate of the environmental prize Trophée de Femmes of the Yves Rocher Foundation for work on this project.
  • Data collected by expeditions in Namibia has helped local and international partners make arguments that have led to the declaration of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA TFCA.
  • The KAZA TFCA is the world’s largest conservation area spanning five southern African countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, centred around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area.
  • As a result of this on-going project, fewer lions, leopards and cheetahs have been killed in farmer-predator conflict due to the extensive data collection.

 

For more details, prices and booking visit www.biosphere-expeditions.org 

About the author: Kat Ogilvie writes on behalf of Biosphere Expeditions, an NGO dedicated to genuine achievements in conservation and real transparency through expedition reports and scientific publications. Find out more about Biosphere Expeditions’ wildlife volunteer projects.