Volunteer Blog 15th July – 26th July 2013

Mandy Bright, July 2013(UK)

Finished wall

Completed wall

Rocks, cement, wheelbarrows, baby wipes, camp fires, new friends, good food, more baby wipes, star-gazing, bed rolls, tetris-style car packing, probably more baby wipes – all of these memories and more will stay with you but none as much as the first sighting of an elephant after patient tracking – a joyous privilege that brought tears to my eyes! If you are thinking about booking, don’t hesitate – this trip has exceeded my expectations and I am already planning my return!

Elephants

Elephants

Susan Spillane, July 2013 (Ireland)

From start of the trip to finish, we laughed and learned. Thanks to my fellow volunteers for being such a great group of people and so much fun. Thanks to Chris, Mattias and everyone working behind the scenes to ensure that the 2 weeks run so smoothly. Chris’s knowledge and enthusiasm is amazing, EHRA is lucky to have him. Build week was a chance to switch off from every day life and concentrate on rocks and cement, so satisfying to leave behind something that will benefit the local community. Final thanks goes to the elephants for being so patient with us and posing for so many “photos”. This has been an amazing experience and I am leaving with so many happy memories.

Calf

Calf

Christine Winter, July 2013(Germany)

It’s so addictive that I had to come back, even if it was only for patrol week J Thank you for the spontaneous possibility to join EHRA for another amazing week! This place is magical.

Mattias

Mattias

Teresa Renken, July 2013 (United States)

I was blessed to have spent the month of July, in its entirety, volunteering for EHRA with people  from all over the world, sharing one common goal, conservation of Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants. But, there is so much more. The guides, Hendrick, Mattias and Chris are extremely knowledgeable about everything from elephants to plants to stars! I feel compelled to do this again for the campfires, the friendships, the elephants, my guides and this beautiful country. Endless stars, endless desert, endless wildlife (did I mention we saw/ tracked a black rhino!?), infinite love for EHRA.

Hannah Carey, July 2013 (United States)

Thanks EHRA for an amazing 2 weeks. It was a fantastic experience, better than I could have ever imagined.

Alan Perillo, July 2013 (USA)

I am so glad I decided to participate in EHRA’s program. I felt that it was well organized, and I always felt that I was in safe hands. From the very beginning everybody in my group bonded with one another and worked as a team. The experience provided by EHRA is unique, eye opening, and adventurous. I would not trade it for anything.

Volunteer blog 17th June – 28th June

My time with EHRA has shown me beauty of the wild that I have never experienced before. At times beauty was shown to me by landscapes – colorful and vibrant sunsets, wide immense sky, sparkling stars and warm sand that sustain desert life.

 

The beauty is also contained in the animals of the wild. I feel privileged that I was allowed to, however brief of a time, be part of their world. The elephants, who no doubt have had experiences with human brutality, still chose peacefully to let us observe and enter their habitat during patrol week.

 

The beauty of this experience was also portrayed by the people that I met during my time with EHRA. EHRA is doing great things for conservation and I was able to begin to understand the complex relationship between humans and their environment during my 2 weeks. After talking to local villagers where we built the wall, it was apparent that great progress is being made – both in the physical (the wall) and the abstract (thinking). Younger villagers frequently voiced that they were no longer as fearful of elephants and understood them better, which no doubt could be credited to EHRA’s work. None of this understanding would have been made possible if it weren’t for Chris’s great passion and knowledge. He is a great teacher. Mattias instinct and insight also added great value to my experience. The camaraderie of other volunteers, fireside laughs and hard work definitely brought people together and made my trip more meaningful.

 

One-eyed Willy, the base camp’s dog, also taught me about the beauty of Africa. This is a dog that was adopted from the desert. He is missing an eye, has scabs all over his body and smells, but he is loving, loyal and hopeful. Just like Africa – there are things which may seem ugly, I was at times shocked, disturbed by some peoples relationship with their environment, but progress is being made and there is hope in the deep and immense beauty that the land and people here hold.

Allison Pratt

Camp fire

Camp fire

 

 As I did that project now for the 2nd time I kind of knew what to expect, but the great thing was that it turned out to be so different to my first trip, but in the best way possible. Its amazing to see how people, different in gender, age, nationality and attitude end up being the perfect mix and team, full of fun and trust.

 

I found it very nice to see locals helping us building the wall and learning more and more about the changing situation, especially the change EHRA did to the people, even if it is small steps.

 

On patrol we’ve seen elephants everyday, often so near,that we could have touched if we wanted to. That was a very special and absolute magical moment I was happy to share. To see those beautiful animals just wandering around you creates so many happy faces. Over and over again its one of the most beautiful things to see. Mattias and Chris are two of the most inspiring people I met. The way Mattias tracks the elephants, and in the end really finds them….It’s amazing!

 

The time with EHRA brings out the best in me. Makes one let go of things that bothered you and makes one calm down, only watch and feel the beauty of nature. It felt like coming home. Thank you, again for something so special.


Loading sand

Loading sand

 

 My experience with EHRA has been truly life changing. Your time will be filled with people, animals and environments that will make you change the way you view your own life.

 

Build week makes you not only appreciate a shower, but also see the change you can make to an environment and community.

 

Patrol week showed me the true beauty of Africa. The animals and landscapes will always stay with me. None so than watching the sunrise on my last day.

 

The work being done by EHRA is full of passion. That passion will rub off on you and hopefully make you see things differently.

 

I have met people from all walks of life during my four weeks here and made some friends for life. I am sad to be leaving, but I have a strong feeling that this will not be the last time I’ll see Africa.

 

I would like to say thank you to EHRA and everyone I’ve met for a truly amazing experience!

Emily Lawrence – England

 

Cement mixers

Cement mixers


Whilst I was a little apprehensive before my arrival, these fears were quickly dispelled by the friendliness of my fellow team members and EHRA personnel.

 

During the 2 weeks I have met many different nationalities and individuals and as a team I think we bonded to not only build a great wall, but to have loads of fun and laughter.

 

Namibia is a place of vast open spaces, breath-taking scenery as far as the eye can see. Whether it is the sunrise, sunset or the stars at night, the vista is truly amazing! As regards the camp-everything was organized so well, food was excellent and everyone so friendly. This was the same for both build and patrol weeks.

 

Chris, as a project leader, has clearly a passion for the elephant’s conservation and Namibia and this is transmitted with such enthusiasm. This has been a truly memorable experience and when I was viewing the elephants, I realized how privileged I had been to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.

 

Thank you EHRAxxxxxx

Rebecca Hughes – uk

Lunch break

Lunch break

 This trip has probably been one of the hardest I have ever participated in, and I have done a significant amount of travelling. I didn’t anticipate exactly just how tough build week was going to be for me. However, the group synergy and Chris’s energy and great sense of humor really pushed me through. Always the beauty of Namibia haunted me, everywhere I looked I saw stunning Vista’s. Camping close to the earth and the ease with which were living made me realize a few things about my own life. I will go back to England wanting to live a more simplistic lifestyle.

 

I am so happy that this trip has strengthened me and built my character. I think Chris has outstanding knowledge about Namibia and especially the gorgeous elephants.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the structure of the trip and I am very grateful and appreciative to Chris and Mattias for making things as comfortable as possible for the group. I was so impressed with all the delicious dinners that were cooked for us.

 

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone as I feel it is run professionally with sincere dedicated staff members. There is a strong balance of a hardworking ethnic, fun and play too though I was mesmerized by the elephants!

 

I will never forget their majestic beauty. I feel a tinge of sadness at the fact that some of the people cannot live in harmony with these magnificent creatures, but I am very happy to see EHRA doing such a fine job at conserving and protecting the elephants. These creatures to me come across as peaceful beings who walk only hunt in define. They live in balance with the earth.and live simply loving their kin unconditionally which is more than I can say about humanity!

 

Thank you EHRA and Chris for your devotion and dedication, May you be blessed with all the help you need in order to continue your work.

Hard at work

Hard at work

 

With love Pratima – London – UK

 

To experience life with EHRA you will face on arid land, with dust and dirt in your hair,skin,eyes and ears. You will also wake at dawn, feel dehydrated and have sand in your porridge

 

But this is the small price you pay compared to the rich reward you receive from giving a little of your time and effort in helping build the wall for the community, and building relations between them and the elephants. For this you get to sleep under the stars and moonlight sky, you connect with the natural world and you work together as a team. Of most significance you get a unique and special chance to encounter the majestic elephants in their home, and are invited onto their world. To Chirs, Mattias, and the rest of EHRA‘s committed members, thank you for your energy and spirit.

Snita and Liam – UK to N.Z

mixing cement

mixing cement

Chris – Thank you for sharing a snapshot of your life with me after the last 2 weeks. These days I will never forget. They have been a really calming grounding experience- based on new friendships, good food, laughter, working together, common goals, new information, amazing stars, sunrises and sunsets. Sharing your last knowledge on the local animals, plants, people, and solar systems. Chris made that trip that much more meaningful for us all. He was so patient in answering all our questions and dishing out and taking our jokes.

 

Amongst many highlights on this trip these following are the ones I will cherish he most. Waking up in the middle of our 1st night at base camp to witness a solitary bull silently walking past the tree house and off into the distance whilst I could no longer make him out against the dark of night – I have never felt such ecstasy and this feeling will stay with me forever. Stark scenery of the Ugab region with it’s sandy soil, acacias, rocky outcrops feeling of openness and closeness to nature truly felt after climbing up a number of koppies – particularly above base camp and the koppie on the last day. It has certainly given me a great appreciation of Namibia’s vastness, small population and that it’s a tough environment to eek out an existence.

 

Elephant patrol sitting on top of the vehicle sometimes holding on for our dear life with Mattias driving. Watching the amazing tracking ability of Mattias through sometimes difficult landscapes ..and flat tyres! and we so often found the elephant herds. It was so special being able to listen to their low rumbles witness their strength and knocking over trees cheekiness in getting close to the vehicles and immense love and protection of their young in terms of building a shield of bodies around sleeping young and using their huge ears to cool and bath themselves and the young. It was truly awe inspiring to see these guests in their natural habitat.

 

I came onto the EHRA program hoping to make a little bit of a difference to the lives of others, but I know I have certainly been the winner taking away a lifetime of memories much more than I have given. I do hope the wall we’ve helped build will be a great contribution to the lives of the locals, providing them with fresh drinking water. The build week was great for us to practice team-building. Learning lot of new skills which will be useful in the future (especially my certificate in cement mixing!!) The week was as physically demanding as you wanted it to be  but with the willingness to participate in all the task gave me a great sense of accomplishment to see our work at the end of the week. It was heartening to have some contribution from the locals as well as government workers which affirmed the keenness to see the wall being completed. They certainly demonstrated to us the speed and skills in cement mixing lugging huge scoops of cement. Around and racing the wheelbarrow around the wall then the rock layers.

 

Chris – thanks for your insights into African culture and in understanding of elephant behavior and value of these amazing animals for their culture and country. Build week was much more meaningful in understanding about your struggles with the government and locals. I truly hope your educational programs change those attitudes for the better.

 

Chris your hard work and caring nature did not go unnoticed – for I’m truly appreciative for you are a great person, inspiring calm and couragous and just the right leader to facilitate better relations between people and the elephants. Keep up the stellar work!

Suzzanne McLoughlin- Australia

Sitting around fire

Sitting around fire

 

Work week was hot, hard but the food was good on Friday to see what we completed was rewarding! He Sunday between weeks the res camp, Wi-Fi, pool and restaurant was just what everyone needed. The elephant tracking week we saw elephants on all 4 days. I had several up close experiments with the desert elephants. Were all an excellent volunteer encounters. 

******* was this tom

Volunteer blog, 3rd June – 14th June 2013

Kim Evans June 2013 (Wales)

I can’t believe I hesitated when it came to booking this trip. I’ve never experienced anything like this and probably never will again – apart from when I come backJ. It was really hard work, but seeing the difference it can make to people living here, the friends I’ve made and random elephant appearances at 6am makes it worthwhile. The landscapes, the people and the food have made me realize why people keep coming back to Africa.

Back  of the Land cruiser

Back of the Land cruiser

 Greg Johnstone (Australia)

I have had a brilliant time and am so glad to have experienced, through EHRA the beauty of Damaraland, its landscapes, wildlife and people. The project is so committed to this country, the elephants and people, that it is inspiring to say the least. I will never forget my time with EHRA in the desert, and will go away sharing this experience and continue to work to protect the elephants and provide and educate the community.

Collecting rocks

Collecting rocks

Jess Mowat June 2013, Australia

I have had an unforgettable experience the last 2 weeks with EHRA. It feels like I have contributed in a small way to something that is so much bigger. The history and philosophy behind EHRA is inspiring. I have learnt so much and felt so much. Seeing my first elephant, meeting the local people, watching the fiery sunsets and sleeping under the brilliant starry skies are memories I will keep for a lifetime.

Locals and volunteers

Locals and volunteers

Ian Paul (18), Scotland, Jun 2013

Completed 4 weeks I won’t forget soon. EHRA has easily beated the other volunteering I did in Africa. The fact that you are tracking some of the last wild, free-roaming elephants left on the planet combined with actively helping the communities by building walls rather than just throwing money at them, show just how legitimate EHRA is. Of course the African experience here is second to  none, but the fact that you are making visible efforts show that it is true volunteering, and this even makes hard-going tasks like building walls incredibly rewarding. I have met some fantastic people here and have great memories of it, it was the best change of scenery and routine I could have asked for. Projects like this need to continue. Chicken percent!

Ian

Mixing cement

Mixing cement

Volunteer blog – 20th May – 31st May 2013

Erika Juchli

30th July 2013

After being twice on vacation in Namibia I knew I wanted to come back, but this time not only as tourist. I wanted to come back as a volunteer and do something that is useful and makes sense to me. I found EHRA and it was a very good choice. During the 4 weeks I have been with EHRA I had a great time. It was an experience of a lifetime.

Build weeks were very hard (mixing cement, going for rock runs and sand runs) and very rewarding. During patrol weeks I saw most of the elephants in the area. I loved being on the top of the truck (after I found out it is not that scary). It is easier to search for elephants and to admire all the different landscapes. Another favorite place for spotting elephants was after climbing up the rocks.

Base camp and the tree house is a beautiful place to be. On the whole trip you must stay alert. I was enjoying a shower for 5 minutes and 30 elephants walked past my bed at base camp.

A big thank you to EHRA and all the people who helped. I had an awesome time in Namibia that I will never forget.

EHRA Volunteers

EHRA Volunteers

Rebecca Henderson

30/05/2013 Ireland

This was my first time to Africa and it surpassed my expectations. Build week was fun but hard work, but was more enjoyable than I ever could have anticipated. Rock runs where you lifted the rock and then realized how far the trailer was and the sand run where I seemed to wear as much as I put in the trailer. Even the challenges of trying to get around “rocks the boulder” with a pickaxe as we dug our toilet. Best bit of course was the last day when the wall was completed and we got to walk away knowing we had helped, a water tank was now protected and we had completed our task. Then back to base camp where a cold shower was heavenly and the elephants walked past. The patrol week which was a fabulous “craic”(Aka Irish atmosphere). We had got to know each other so there was plenty of digs going in and a lot of laugher. Then the highlight was of course the many elephants we saw of many shapes and sizes, some quiet and shy, others not at all bothered by our presence. Then there were names like Benny, Voortrekker etc. We also saw scorpions, snakes, lizards, springbok, aardwolf, and heard much more.

Amazing two weeks and the best bit for me is that I have two weeks to go, where I get to relive it all, though maybe and try eat less of the fabulous food!!!

Thanks very much.

PS. Dry elephant shit works well to smolder and smoke and get rid of the Mopani bees!!!

Group picture

Group picture

Natalie Constable -21

May 2013 USA

The landscapes are beautiful, and seeing the stars at night was one of my favorite bits. I met some very nice friends and the food was delicious – even though I ate more peanut butter than I could have anticipated. (I can proudly say that I completed the PB challenge even though Mumi was not a witness). Getting down and dirty and seeing some elephants at the same time could not have been more fun.

Nat

Unloading rocks

Unloading rocks

May 2013

Romain Galtie (France)

Very nice base camp, very nice people. I had 2 incredible months. Thanks to all the team!

Spotted an elephant

Spotted an elephant

Volunteer bolg – 6th May – 17th May 2013

group pic

group pic

6 May 2013

I came to Namibia because it is one of the most amazing places in the world. It is such a joy to do something sp rewarding for the farmers whilst at the same time meet new friends for life. WOW! Nothing beats lying in your bed roll having a cup of tea delivered to you and watching the sunrise.

Mattias is such an amazing character who found the elephants for us and was very special! I will always remember my special time in Namibia. It is really like being at home.

Lynne Ferguson

Baby ellie

Baby ellie

 (Emma-Jane Mooney, London, UK)                                   May 6th – 17th 2013

Yes! As Everyone says, you will work hard, meet great people, marvel at the landscape, have laughs and see nature at its untamed best…..BUT – Please remember:

  1. Bumper packs of wet wipes
  2. Leave your attitude at home
  3. in
  4. ENJOY!

(And a head-net might be good, unless you want to be driven crazy by the M-bees in base camp and beyond)

Thank you to everyone I’ve met. You have no idea what these two weeks have meant to me.

EHRA, Hendrik, Matteus, Chris, – I wish you all the very best.

People – book your trip NOW. You will not regret it:)

Elephant tusk hole in water tank

Elephant tusk hole in water tank

 May 5th-18th 2013

My two weeks with EHRA wasn’t just about building walls and tracking elephants. It was much more to do with understanding the relationship between the people of Damaraland and the elephants. Being out on patrol and seeing first hand how damaged the relationship is at times was eye opening. Education is the only way forward otherwise the two will continue to clash. And the elephants will loose! Being part of the team for just a short period of time has given me a unique insight into Africa. Wall building without the mod-cons just shovels and spades is great leveler.

Patrol week is like having your own private safari. Truly amazing, the sights sounds and simplicity is priceless.

Thank you Chris you make it real!!

Mamma Afrika

Mamma Afrika

 Working with EHRA has been all that I expected and nothing that I expected. Before I came I knew that I was going to build walls and see elephants…and not shower!!! But over the past four weeks I have done so much more, from making new friends to learning to cook over an open fire, but most importantly being a part of repairing the strenuous relationship between elephants and the people who live here. I’ve seen the devastation that the elephants can bring, and the anger of the people and I realize that without EHRA these elephants would not be able to exist at all. It is a difficult and continuous battle here which won’t be easily fixed, but to know I have been part of bringing peace to the people and elephants makes having to deal with the stench of 9 other people who haven’t showered for 5 days all the more worth while.

Ida-May Jones (UK)

Mother and Calf

Mother and Calf

 April 8th – 17th

I went to Namibia with the idea to build some walls and see some elephants. But my six weeks with EHRA was so much more than that. I met great people, saw a lot of different and beautiful landscapes, saw all the elephants of Mamma Afrika herd, G6 and Ugab small several times, experienced from nearby how the locals and the government react on elephants. “saved”the burned baby and last it. Learned how to cook on a open fire, watched beautifull sunrises and sunsets and loved sleeping under the stars. It was an wonderfull and impressive experience. Thank you so much, people of EHRA! You are great!

Greetings Maartje (Grasshopper)

From Dutchland

Elephant damage to house

Elephant damage to house

 April 8th – May 17th

Yes it is the 2nd time I am doing this program and it was still amazing. What a great concept. One gives a little and receives a “private safari” with also the insight of day to day struggles the locals have with living with elephants around. The elephant sightings, everyone different. I am certain it won’t be my last time. It certainly has lasting impact on my life.

Ingrid Martin

Melbourne – Australia

Giraffes

Giraffes

Volunteer blog 11th March – 22nd March 2013

An amazing 2 weeks not long enough. Thanks to a great team who fed, watered, and kept me/us safe.

Experience of a lifetime! :) Yvonne

elephants

elephants

Elephants- a truly amazing animal, intelligent, social and each one with distinct personality. The more you read about them and the longer you watch them, the more you will see. There is probably no other mammal that at the same time allows humans to observe from a short distance and has such a complex social behavior that you will never feel bored, even after hours of watching in the baking sun. To be in the middle of a herd of elephants, in a car in stunning scenery at night in the base camp, this induces a feeling of happiness that can’t be described with words. We should do our best to preserve this precious piece of nature for future generations.

Human-though Namibia has a small population of just 2 million people, the variety of peoples and cultures in this country is impressing. It is not easy to visit people which were decimated by the generation of my grand-parents, the first genocide in German history. But the friendliness and hospitality of the Namibians never let us feel uncomfortable. I am happy that I had the opportunity to be a guest in this wonderful country.

Relation – Being a manager used to working in an air- conditioned office in a 20…city, serving very poor farmers who have no electricity and very limited contact to the outside world – the contrast couldn’t be bigger. The EHRA – project gives people from totally different background opportunity to learn from each other. We could give the farmers examples how to handle the not easy relation with elephants in a harsh environment, and we could learn even more, the happiness of a simple lifestyle, to value simple things like piece of firewood or just a litre of warm water.

Aid – Though spending half of my life in a developing country, the poverty in this part of Namibia is shocking. Colonialization apartheid has robbed these people one whole century, 100 years without the possibility to develop. Now volunteers and EHRA- staff from all 5 continents work together to improve the life of the local residents.Though tools, financial resources and professional experience are limited, it is impressive what small group of committed people can achieve. Our contribution is small composed to that of big organization, but one wall around a well…mean access of one or more families and their livestock to clean water.- and one possible conflict less between humans and elephants.

Mi Fu (Volker)

China 2013.03.22

Upside down

Upside down

Had an amazing 2 weeks from the moment we left Swakopmund the scenery on the way to base camp was beautiful. I’ve previously visited many African countries, but the landscapes in Namibia are truly unique. The people have a harsh environment & climate in which to fork out a living and yet everywhere there are smiling faces happy with their lives, or so it appears.

Base camp was very well thought out in a wonderful setting.

Build week was tough, but very rewarding. I’m pleased to have played a very small part in the worthwhile cause that is EHRA. We were very lucky in build week to have seen a lot of the elephants, seeing 2 of the 3 herds that roam the region. Although I’ve been lucky enough to have seen wild elephants on numerous occasions, but these of Namibia really are unique. It would be a travesty was the remaining elephants in the region not be allowed to prosper and build their numbers. The more you observe them the more your respect builds.

Thanks to Chris who I thought managed the group very well. He was always willing to answer any questions, most I’m sure he’d been asked of numerous times before. Matteus made the trip a truly memorable one. His jovial personality really, added the atmosphere in the group and it was obvious when tracking the elephants that his knowledge of the area was second to none. Lastly the food on the trip was fantastic and a very welcome bonus from what I was expecting. I won’t hesitate to recommend EHRA to friends looking to help a very worthwhile cause looking for a fantastic experience at the same time.

Mike

22/3/13

Rolling up

Rolling up

Lizzie, March 22, 2013

I can’t believe I’m already writing my final blog. I have been with EHRA for 6 weeks and I can’t believe it’s over! I have had the most amazing time and am so pleased I chose an amazing charity to come and work for. I have heard and seen so many conflicts that EHRA continuously fight for these beautiful elephants. The work you do here as a volunteer is vital to continue to keep the elephants safe and in their true wilderness. Helping the local people to continue co-existing is also vital and I am so proud to say I have been a part of this. With some amazing elephant encounters this week and some very hard work during build week I can safely say this trip has been one of the highlights of my life. Chris is a wonderful leader, Mattias another great tracker (and excellent dancer!) and Courtney who worked tirelessly to keep us all well fed (vegetarians – the food is amazing!) and watered-an amazing team to come and work with! J I will miss them all very much, I have met wonderful people throughout my time here. Lifelong friends and wonderful memories of hard work, lots of laughs and encounters I’m sure are impossible to find anywhere else. Thank you EHRA, I hope you will be blessed with amazing volunteers to continue with your wonderful work! Oh! And thank you elephants for my farewell visit into camp last night. The best night of my life!!!

Group pic

Volunteer blog from the 28th January – 8th February 2013

Image

Build Week

28th January, Gracie and Pippa

Our group consists of 8 people-18 year olds to 48 year olds.  A more different group you couldn’t wish to meet. From those in school through to working for 25 years+, most from all corners of the earth, including Canada, UK, Poland, China and Chicago.

We have bonded so well, we almost know each other as family and love every minute and can bicker like family too!

Finished off one incomplete well surrounding wall in days 1-3, and began another well project, 300 yards away by riverbed. From rock collecting (mainly big rocks by the boys and smaller by the girls!!!), to sand collection (fine in the morning)! To cement mixing – by hand! The record held by the girls –, to building i.e rock lying in a beautiful circle around the much precious water.

Mornings are breeze with less heat (!) and afternoons we are a little more reluctant! Drinking 6 liters of water a day to compensate.

Trip to the shop at 5:30pm is the greatest treat for a cider and beer at the end of our super hot days.

Whole experience so far utterly rewarding wonderfully stimulating-Love it. Elephant patrol here we come!

Building

Build Week

January 25th – 1st February Courtney Gallant, Canada

When I landed in Namibia in early 2012 I had a great sense of homecoming though it was the first time I’d ever been here. By the end of my second of eight weeks with EHRA last year, I knew I would have to come back again. There was no question about it; it was only a question of “when”, and here I am.

When I got to Namibia this time, that feeling of homecoming was even greater and I had an amazing familiar feel this time. I can’t help but smile when I look around me and see the landscapes that I hold close to heart. As I feel the sun on my skin, the sand under my feet, the wind in my hair. Being here my heart and soul feel calm and at peace, full of passion and drive. Reuniting with people at EHRA has been like seeing family who has been missing in your life. Meeting, getting to know and settling in with a new group of volunteers has been like making an all new family, all so very different, but all with a fierce love and devotion to a common cause that brings us all together and binds us. And what better way to get to know people then to work together, to live together, to push your limits, support and encourage each other. Everyone did their best this first build week, coped with the extreme heat, the tough physical work. Before long, everyone found wonderful ways to work together and get a lot of work done with a small group and four days. To see your hard work, your sweat and sore muscles, your cuts, blisters and bruises come together to create something tangible, something solid, something helpful, is so rewarding that you forget about everything else and feel deep pride at what you and your new EHRA family have managed to do on such a short time.

And now, after all of our hard work, a weekend of rest before the amazing chance to track the elephants through this beautiful land.

Mixing cement

Build Week

Cameron Pelz

February2,2013

After two and a half days of traveling, cramped into the economy section of three separate airlines it felt great to begin he build process on our first day out. The mornings here are beautiful, with a cool breeze and he sun shining. It’s the kind of weather that makes me eager to work hard and accomplish something. We drove to the worksite with everyone cramming into the open top jeep, enjoying the cool wind and spectacular scenery, and began to work on a half-finished wall around a well. It was quickly apparent just how difficult the work could be, shoveling sand, hauling rocks, mixing cement; but with plenty of water and frequent breaks, the morning went by rather quickly. After a long lunch break to allow the heat to subside (not nearly as much as we would like), we got back to work with slightly less of a spring in our step. Hot water has never tasted better as we sweated it out into the late afternoon, and at the end of the day, there was never a more deserving time for a cool beer from the shop on the way home to camp. When you see a completed wall that you have built together with a group of people that only days earlier were total strangers, there is a bond that’s created that. It’s hard to define! People from such varied locations and backgrounds come together for one common goal, and to see the results of your labor brings a sense of bride and achievement that personally is unmatched by prior endeavors. You are truly helping people and the appreciation is apparent. I have met people that I will never forget, and I will always consider friends, no matter how many miles may separate us after this is all over. Patrol week is next, and I can’t wait to continue on with this lie changing experience.

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Patrol week by Chris Project Manager

This was the first time that I had to do patrol alone, as Mattias our Namibian tracker was taking an extended vacation!  I was a little nervous but was up for the challenge, and I have got to know the area really well over the last year, so thought I would give it a go solo!  The first patrol of the year is always difficult as we haven’t been out in the field for 6 weeks and don’t have a good idea of elephant movements.

 

Luckily for me perhaps, Voortrekker, our largest and oldest bull in the area decided to help me out and wandered past base camp on Sunday afternoon!  He was heading down river and I thought it more than likely that he was following the herds, so I could breathe a sigh of relief that I knew where to start looking the following morning!

 

The aim of the first patrol of the year is to do a general check on the elephants, make sure they are all present and check for new births.  During the rainy season the elephants tend to move on to the higher ground and farm areas, and conflict is high, it’s always a worrying time as a few years ago 4 elephants were shot in this area. We had seen tracks going into the farm areas, but it seemed that most elephants were still in the river system as the rain still hasn’t come.  The rivers here can flash flood during the rainy season and of course the elephants don’t want to get stuck in the mud!  In fact the Ugab River is called so as ‘Ugab’ describes that noise that your foot makes as you pull it out of the mud!

 

We weren’t on the road for long before Voortrekker popped out of the bushes and walked straight past the car without a care in the world!! We carried on in search of the herds and a half hour later located them in the river bed close to Anixab where the local school is.  We saw Mama Afrika Herd’s with their 3 babies all doing well, all the cows were present and correct.  We stopped for lunch under a tree and relaxed whilst the elephants did the same.

 

Once the heat had subsided, (not that it felt like it!) we carried on driving up the Ugab.  Just before we called camp for a night we found a young bull Tsaurab (meaning the one who goes softly, named because he slept in EHRA camp one night with Johannes who didn’t realize he had a sleeping  buddy!). So having seen one herd and two of our bulls we decided that was a good days work and made camp overlooking the Ugab.

 

Tuesday started well and by 09.00 we had found Mama Afrika again and Voortrekker.   We took some ID photos and then continued on our mission.  Around 11.00 we found the three naughty bulls in the first wetland.  These bulls are seasonal visitors and we think come from the Omaruru area every year when the Ana trees seed pods are ready for eating.  They tend to stay until the rains comes.  They had the best time pulling up water pipes and breaking fences in the EHRA camp over Christmas!

 

After lunch our luck got even better and we found one of the other Ugab herds, G6, and again all the elephants were there including their new baby.  We took some ID photos and after an hour or so continued onwards.

 

On Wednesday I decided to head into the farm areas as we had seen tracks going over the main road and our one herd the Ugab Small herd had still not been seen.  Last year during the rainy season they were also difficult to track and went into really remote mountainous areas.  We drove a lot this day, but it seemed my luck was running out and we didn’t find any fresh tracks.  I decided to head back towards the Ugab in case they were in the northern reaches of the area.  Just before we made camp we saw Voortrekker again (I was starting to think he was checking up on me!) and being the gentleman that he is, he brought Bennie another one of our bulls with him!

 

Thursday am we saw all the elephants close together which was amazing! At one point we watched on in disbelief as a farmer chased them and then all the elephants ran off!  Not wanting to disturb the elephants anymore and being pleased with what the patrol had accomplished we headed back to EHRA base camp for a much needed SHOWER!!!