Volunteer reviews of our Elephant Conservation & Community Programme in Namibia

22 April 2019

Volunteers, Stefan, Luca and Megan, share their experiences in Namibia, working hard to conserve desert elephants and support rural farming communities.

The goal of the Desert Elephant Conservation Programme is to overcome and minimise situations whereby humans and elephants come into conflict. The desert-adapted elephant lives in areas also home to rural farming communities, and regularly cause damage to irrigation systems, water tanks and crops. Volunteers work alongside communities repairing elephant damage and putting in place strategies to reduce conflict situations.

In addition, the volunteer team are also responsible for tracking the free-roaming wild elephant population in the region, noting down movements, locations, herd size and behaviour.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Name: Stefan
Home country: Germany
Age: 41
Date of trip: 1-12 April 2019

Describe the level of work required during you during build week, compared to what you expected.

The main focus of our build week was digging in pipes, which turned out to be like digging up a rock – quite hard work. But as there is no pressure and you can put in your best effort but at the same time take a break whenever you feel like you need one, it was a good experience. And of course it is quite satisfying once you’ve finished the work.

Describe your experience of camping during Build week:

The whole camping experience has been incredible, I have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping beneath the stars and sharing stories with such a varied group of people.

How did you feel about not having a shower/bath every day?

No problem there. A couple of wet wipes before going to bed to feel human again and the lack of a shower for a couple of days is no big deal. It actually adds to the feeling of being out in the bush.

Describe your experience of being part of the volunteer team:

Wonderful experience again, such lovely people – both staff and volunteers. It feels more like being part of a family than what I have seen in any other travel experience.

Which elephants/herds did you spot? And where? Share a best moment.

We were quite spoilt seeing almost all elephants in both rivers. Highlights were seeing a proper elephant pool party – elephants and water, a love story for ages. And of course seeing two baby elephants playing and mud fighting, so full of energy.

How would you describe your time in Namibia to your family?

It has been unbelievable and life-changing. The difference between the UK and Namibia is like night and day. So I have a feeling I’ll be talking to them for days trying to explain to them all the surreal experience. 

What did you learn about human-elephant conflict in Namibia?

I’ve been eager to learn as much as possible on this subject. To me it seems as though every single thing that happens has a major knock on effect. The issue appears to be a lack of understanding from the farmers, but their livelihoods are at stake, so it’s a vicious circle.

Is there any additional feedback you would like to share?

The opportunity to experience the beautiful Namibian bush, while contributing to the community and wildlife conservation, and sharing all of these memories with lovely people is a very precious thing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Name: Luca
Home country: Germany
Age: 29
Date of trip: 1-28 April 2019

When you arrive and your family or friend says “how was your trip” what will you say?

At first I will tell them that it takes a few time to tell them about all the experience. I will tell them about the amazing sunsets and sunrises and the bright stars in the night. I will tell them about great people I met here and about the project which I really want to do again. There are too much things, I have to tell them.

Have you seen a wild elephant before? If so, where? If not, where they as you expected them to be?

No, I have never seen a wild elephant before! I think you can’t imagine how the first contact with a wild elephant is going to be. But the relationship between you and a wild elephant is definitely incredible. You can’t compare it to a contact with an elephant in a zoo or something like that. Just as this moment, there is an elephant at our basecamp!!!

Describe the best, worst and most unexpected aspects of being on kitchen duty.

Best: I had a really good duty team mate. It was most of the time fun to be on kitchen duty.

Worst: There weren’t a really bad thing about the duty. Maybe to wash the dishes after lunch and dinner.

Most unexpected: Being able to do only good food. There wasn’t a bad meal.

What were you most worried about before you came? Should you have worried about this?

I most worried about the scorpions and things like that. But after one or two nights it was no problem anymore.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Name: Megan Melson

What was your favourite experience?

I loved seeing the elephants having a “pool party” at the dam. That was the best thing we could have seen on our last full patrol week day. It was our grand finale. Perfect.

Describe your experience of camping during patrol week.

Camping was awesome. It was such a unique experience sleeping under the amazing stars every night. It was great to hear the nature sounds each night while falling asleep. Can’t beat it.

Can you share some of the best moments you shared with the other members of your group?

It was great to make new friends from all over the globe. The elephants were absolutely amazing. This was an unforgettable experience.

To join our Desert Elephant Conservation Programme, please click here or on the image below.

Related projects:

Back to articles

Stay Informed

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest news.