This happy group of volunteers continued the work of previous group on building the elephant protection wall at farm Otjongundu. On elephant patrol week they were privileged to see Voortekker with younger bulls and Mama Afrika’s herd as well as other wildlife such as ostriches, black-backed jackals and different antelopes. As it comes to desert elephants interestingly, H2-herd is back in the Ugab area again. The volunteers seemed to enjoy their time, and they even had time for some yoga led by Selina, a volunteer from Germany! Working at a farm is not always easy, as there might be some distractions….but let the volunteers tell their stories:
Tuesday, June 12, 2016
“Tuesday morning we woke up at 05:45 am since we were on duty. We started the fire and prepared tea and coffee for everybody including this porridge we didn’t enjoy. I will never ever eat it in my life. I prefer it with milk and fruits instead. But since we started the day in such an unbelievable place, this was not a problem at all.
We prepared and loaded the cars. But still had time to take some pictures of this wonderful place at the base camp. Approximately around 09 am we were ready to start towards our building site. But luckily, Hamish forgot the spare tire for the van, so we had to go back and pick it up from the camp. On our second attempt to leave the camp we had a magical moment: we saw the elephants of herd G6 passing by the camp on their way to the Ugab river valley.
We arrived at the White Lady painting around 11 am. and directly started to build up our campsites in a valley nearby, beautifully situated next to the Brandberg Mountain. We had lunch and afterwards started our working at the building site. This was quite a lot of fun, because every participant did their very best for the success of our work. In particular we created a new foundation for the water tanks – at least we started it. We went back to the campsite earlier and there EHRA showed their competence in providing really delicious food for so many people. Even we were able to prepare an excellent meal with chicken and butternut for the group.
Later on the evening ended in a relaxed way while sitting around the fire……..”
Friedhelm and Martin (Germany)
Wednesday, June 13 2016
“We woke up at 06h00 to prepare the breakfast for everyone…..We started with making fire with dry baby wipes from the day before. This burned very well with the small wood. For the porridge, we cooked less oats than the morning before because some of us hated it and still hate it. So for some of us, the day started with frustration…but with a smile on the face for the majority.
At 8 o’clock we started with carrying stones, mixing cement, sand runs – always trying to follow the rules, which means: no beer at lunch for Fred, using the right shovels for mixing cement, learning how to lift rocks without breaking your back, not using these soft and lovely wheel barrows to carry rocks.
On our first break which was supposed to be short became longer when we realised that we ran out of water. So we had to wait for Mattheus who went to refill the container. Then, when the water arrived we hardly came back to work and make cement again to build a foundation for water tanks. At 12:30 we went for lunch, which was the perfect timing because we became to suffocate under the sun of noon. After eating, we rest in the freshness and shade under the roof. None the less, some of us had enough energy to climb the mountain next to the camp.
So in the afternoon we continued with our work. We started in the morning till it was time for dinner. Fred was happy now because it was already 5 o’clock and he was allowed to drink a (not so cold) beer🙂. We cooked lamb tagine for the meat eaters which took 1½ hours on the fire – too long for the empty stomachs around the fire. The vegetarians had lentils instead of meat which was ready after 25 minutes but they were kind and waited till everybody had something to eat. Was a perfect dinner to end this amazing day at Brandberg Mountain.”
Maren and Louisa
“There are some seriously confused roosters around here, the action kicked off at 2:50 a.m., then they realised their mistake by 3 and went back to bed unlike us. The duty team arose at 5:45 to commence preparation, Mattias was instantly promoted to porridge captain, much to our relief, the decision was justified on the basis that we all got to enjoy porridge without sand. Breakfast passed without any events and it’s now 07h30 and we have only been told off 5 times – we are pleased with our achievements.
The day’s work begins, three rock runs were completed. We were all surprised at how excited and possessive you could get about rocks. We all look for different things when searching for a special rock – the good news is that they come in many different shapes and sizes, so there was a rock for everyone.
Ashleigh loves big rocks…
P.S We had to go for a hospital run and got stuck in the sand.
“Shifts were also taken in cement mixing as everyone learnt their own style, under Jill’s guidance. And the wall steadily grew in size as Matthias stoically masterminded its construction. For a change lunch was cheese, ham and salad sandwiches and leftovers, then during a post meal snooze the farmer arrived requesting a lift to the hospital for a pregnant lady. All was well and we were able to have an extended siesta as Hamish turned into an ambulance man. As we grasped the opportunity to improve community relations, by way of thank you they stole our beer out of the truck! It’s no wondering the locals love EHRA!
Upon return from his good deed Hamish led a party on a sand run. We managed to get stuck in the riverbed with a full load. Hamish’s eco-training immediately kicked in as he tried to phone his mom. Alas no reception, so Ashleigh stepped into the breach – positive attitude and innovation saved the day.”
Thursday 16th June 2016
“The lack of signal and Wi-Fi combined with being in the most remote and beautiful places just brings us closer to nature. Today is the last full day of building week, surprised of how far we have come, currently at 4 fact!
Day was one of warmer morning’s hard works – blood, sweat and tears but worth every moment. Great food – porridge and coffee – everyone actually wakens early with duty. Pair Alice did a great job fire making. She was very proud. Good job – lunch was ham/cheese sandwich dinner chicken and dinner was chicken moambe – delicious, the peanut butter was an interesting ingredient. Vegetarians vs. carnivores. It is an incredible terrain, dry desert, great, dedicated, very hardworking and passionate about the task -people, young folks and so much energy in a group. I am privileged to meet and work with them.
Scorpions, spiders and lizards are just some of the unique species we find during rock collection, making sure we return the rock to protect the individual from the killer sun. At the end of the day we were all excited for a cold beer and amazingly good food cooked over the fire. We finished the productive day with an hour of yoga before dinner, it was a peaceful end to the day.”
From Alice and the “annoying snorer”
Monday 21st June 2016
“My second patrol week and it just gets better and better! After tracking for 2 hours we found a mixture of individuals: an adult cow named Medusa and Roo (who fostered Madiba the baby male), as well as Tsaurab and Voortrekker the 2 males. These individuals do not make up a herd as they immigrate throughout. The usual aspect of these individuals is that 3 unknown males were present with them and viewing their behavioral differences towards us and the cars were particularly interesting
Voortrekker is a beautiful bull, with the largest tusks I have ever seen. He walked between the cars allowing us the opportunity to get close.
After lunch we located the elephants, but doing it by foot. We walked up the diverse landscape of rocks to view the elephants from a different angle, it was a highlighting moment.
Fight off between a dog protecting his goats and the elephants was amazing, continuous barking and head shaking concluded in the elephants relocating.
Sitting by the fire, sharing our thoughts under the stars, what a way to finish the day.”
Tuesday 22nd June 2016
“That was an amazing day!!!
In the morning we’ve seen the big males who were chilling in the sun. Then we drive for a long long long time without seeing nothing at all..In the afternoon we went to the riverbed and this was the best moment of the day and for me of the patrol day week. We were standing between a huge group of elephants (twenty I guess)!
They came very close to us and one touched Hamish! It was an incredible moment.
Then we went to a lodge in the desert to get some beer with the group (who were in the car of the big Mattheus) and then we just told silly jokes until the sun goes down.
Thanks a lot for this journey, this was for the moment the best that I ever had.
Frenchie girl, Zoe
P.s Sorry for my English, I will try to get better🙂