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Volunteer Blog 25th January-5th February

This group seemed to enjoy their time a lot working hard and patrolling the wildlife in Damaraland. They were very lucky to experience newborn Desert Elephants as well as some other animals. Please read more about their experiences below:

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Tuesday 26th January

So my first day building today and I had no idea what I was going to be doing, never been near cement before! I was kindly woken up by two of the other volunteers with a cup of tea and we got prepared for a day’s hard craft. At the campsite where we were building we were told there was no water. So we spent the morning back and forth collecting what we needed – water from the natural spring (and the guys are so inventive with what little they have to collect it!), rocks to actually build the wall with and sand to mix with the cement. After spending lunch chilling back at camp to miss the midday sun, we went back out again. We all get mixing (I soon learnt by watching the guys get straight to it) and building. And wow, how time flew and it seemed we didn’t get far in that time. But, given how very hot it was and how quick we got the first part up, it really felt like an achievement. We’re a small group so we did a lot in the time we had. It was hard! I’m so chuffed to be involved and put in a little for something so worthwhile. A nice evening preparing dinner and hopefully a good sleep under the stars ready to do it again tomorrow, and I must remember to get up and serve tea to my fellow volunteers too!

Mary

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Thursday 4th February 2016

Yebooo! I have been here for four weeks now and it’s been an amazing trip, full of experience and memories!! First of all it is so great to meet new people from different parts of the world. The first two weeks was really nice, we saw both Mama Afrika and G-6 herd in the patrol week. It was so nice to see them from really close! Namibia is a really great country with so many amazing landscapes especially where the camp is. It’s been so great to see so many stars every night and to be able to see the sunrise everyday and with amazing sunset also. I’ve learned so much here with the people, the culture and this way of living. It goes from cooking to respecting and helping others.
In the second two weeks it was another amazing experience with so many new things. We had a bit of swim and also we were able to see a lightning storm in the patrol week. We went to the Huab and were so lucky to see two new born elephants. One was 3 days old and one was 12 hours old. Then on the last, on the way back we saw a leopard.
In the end it was an amazing journey, one of the best things I did for sure and would recommend this to anyone. The ones who were searching this can understand what I am talking about. It is my first time in Namibia and I will come back for sure and coming for EHRA again!
All of this experience has made me realise what the chance we have to live in this beautiful world that we have to appreciate everyday! Thanks for this amazing time!!! Hope to see you again.

Mathieu

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Thursday 4th February

Just over a week ago I wrote about the start of the project and today is now our last day. I have felt exhausted by the heat but rewarded by how far we got with the wall. In 4 days with 6 people, we got halfway and seeing it when we left was a good feeling to have achieved so much. The heat nearly beat us and by the last day of building we all felt exhausted. I was proud to have done something so far removed from my normal life back home and knowing it will make a difference to local people is amazing.
Patrol week this week has been a massive reward for the hard work. Seeing the elephants was amazing and I could have stayed for days/weeks, just following them. We were so lucky to see a new born calf- literally 12 hours old. We also encountered scorpions, snakes and insects. I’d never seen while we camped – luckily I wasn’t the one bitten! Today on our way home we saw so many animals – Oryx, springbok, black backed jackals and the highlight, a leopard! How many people can say they’ve seen that!
It’s been an amazing, exhausting and massively rewarding experience and I’ve learnt so much – how to build, how communities deal with the elephants and how adopted the elephants are to the desert. It’s also given me more to think about when looking at trips to do – being more aware of the impact tourism has on the animals and their environment. Thank to Chris and Donna for an amazing trip and huge respect to Mattias snr who can find elephants in the thickest of bushes! The man is a wealth of knowledge and experience to adventure!
The whole EHRA team work really hard and it’s amazing the work they do. Am sure I’ll be back one day.

Mary

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February 4, 2016

Having just completed my last night of my 2 week stint. I feel very pleased with my decision to participate in one of EHRA’s programs. From the outset Rachel was extremely helpful in answering all of my initial question, as was Victro also. Chris is an absolutely indispensible part of the success of the program. His leadership qualities shine, the fact that he has the capacity to show true respect to everyone of the participants while monitoring a light …and humorous persons makes the experience exceptional. In my opinion he is an indispensible part of the success of the experience. I love the wilderness in general, but have quickly taken to the awesomeness of the desert of Namibia. Protecting animals has always come natural to me, but elephants are so unique, so full of magic, so mind-blowing that wanting to protect them, I believe comes pretty easy for many of us humans.
You can rest assured I will be sending other potential volunteers your way in the future. Please do not hesitate to use me as a resource for recommendation to potential volunteers thinking of coming to Namibia from the USA.
I am grateful for the opportunity you have provided me as a volunteer to experience my 1st 2 weeks visiting Namibia right here with your fine organization! Many blessing to all of you. Keep up the good work.

Ron Margolis, Durango, Colorado, USA

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4.2.2016

Okay! Let me tell you a story about a Swiss guy called Bruno. He went to EHRA for four weeks. He had such a great time here. But first when he arrived from Mozambique he was sad, because his baggage didn’t arrive. But then he came to this amazing place. He was very excited about the beautiful nature and the charming people around here. He met some new friends.
While he was staying here, he had a lot of different things to do. These were 3 types of work to do.
1. Work at the camp/enjoying the camp
The camp here is just beautiful, but also a lot of work here. Bruno had to do the dishes, cooking and help in the vegetable garden. But these were also a lot of fun things to do: playing cards, playing Botcha (I don’t know how it’s called in English, but it’s the thing with the heavy balls but the most fun was relaxing beneath the amazing sky. The sleeping on the platform also was very impressive for little Bruno. He had a great time at the camp with both groups he was being here.
2. Build week(s)
For Bruno the Build weeks were fun, but very strong! He took up a lot of big rocks. In the first week the group had to finish a wall. In the second build week they started another wall. They also had to mix a lot of cement.
3. Patrol week
The patrol weeks were just amazing. On the first patrol week we’ve seen about 30 elephants. From small to big females and males. Sleeping outside the camp was very fun. On the second patrol week we did go to another area, which was completely different to the first. The landscape there was unbelievable. Bruno also got sting by a scorpion. His arm was hurting and that is the Geschichten von Bruno while he was working for EHRA!!
Thanks a lot to all the people of EHRA. It was a great time with you. Hope we will meet again!!

Greetings from Bruno (Bruno is not a von Gogh or a good writer) from Switzerland!!!

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Volunteer blog 30 November – 11 December 2015

Volunteers on sand
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Monday 7th December 2015

The last volunteers of the year

We are the last volunteers of the year and have an awesome group. We have Simba from Germany who is here for 12 weeks, Sophia and Lukas from Germany doing this for 8 weeks, the Swiss Sylvia and German Jonas for 4 weeks. Then there are the newcomers, two Kiwi sisters Karyn and Sian, the Australians Shane and Derek, the Swiss Stephi, the German Evan, the American Brand and the Scottish Craig.

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We are the first group to build a wall in 1 day for a widow and her three daughters, 5 hr drive from base camp on a remote farm. We really enjoyed camping under the Namibian night sky, cooking over a wood fire and drinks with the family. But not so much the scorpions, spiders and a massive Solifuge (Sand Spider) which sent some girls screaming!

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Saturday we all enjoyed the loud, funny, and very drunk end of year party!

Today we started patrol week and we had an amazing day. WE were surrounded by two herds, tracked two bulls. Now we are camping on the slopes of the Brandberg Mountain having spaghetti carbonara.

Thanks EHRA for a fantastic time!
Karyn and Stefi

Volunteers at the elephant safety poster
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Volunteer trip-2nd November – 13th November 2015

2nd November group pic.jpgIt is only the second day of my adventure with EHRA, but I already know that this experience will be the best of my life.

The people are amazing, the staff is wonderful and the landscapes are speechless. If one person tries this foundation they would understand what a dream I am actually living in.
Gabriel Tasso, 03/11/2015

Elephants underneath a tree

Its Swiss and German simples!!!
Dr Rajesh Dasi
We start the day in bed, with coffee which I obviously want to drink. Building a wall seems simple but collecting the heavy rocks is not as easy, especially in the African sun. However it made me realize how we take things for granted. It also opened a window to experience the life people in Africa live, especially when it’s very hot and there is only little water (because I didn’t get the opportunity to take shower in 3 days)
It’s good to experience why everything in Africa is Hakuna matata(no problems) when the vehicle broke, our popular Adolf drove back to drove back to the base camp to get parts and fixed it all on the same day

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10/11/2015
Today was our second day of patrol and much better once we got rid of the French film crew. So far we’ve seen elephants on both patrol days and it has been AMAZING! Yesterday afternoon we saw Tsaurab, one of the bulls in one herd. He was so close we heard the water sloshing as he was drinking!
So far the trip has been brilliant with a great group of people, although a bit much some of the time!!! Waking up as the sun rises with tea and going to bed under the stars is beautiful.
This afternoon we went to find the herd again because one of the babies had fallen in a septic tank. Thankfully it was on-probably just a bit smelly. We tracked the herd for a while. I watched them wander off to find more water with the Brandberg Mountain as the background. It was so beautiful! This trip has been such an awesome experience. I wish I could stay for longer but I will definitely be back.
Hannah Hartman, 21, England

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10/11/2015
I expected to see stunning landscapes. And yes, I did.
I expected to work pretty hard. And it was actually even harder than I expected it to be, but I liked it.
I expected to track wildlife and have the time to observe elephants in the desert, and yes we did. And with a guide like Chris, you get answers to questions you never dared to ask.
What I honestly did not expect is that this is also a stunning wild and interesting experience in sharing time (27/7) with people who were total strangers only 10 days ago. You eat with them, cook with them, sleep next to them and get to know them in a way that usually takes weeks or months – here it all happens within a couple days.
Tina

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11/11/2015
Alison Van Der Linden (“Sheila”)

Today is Wednesday of “patrol week”. We got up early to head out and drove for 6+ hours to get to our final campsite – seeing kudu, oryx, Meerkat and herds of Zebra on the way. (Sadly no elephants or Rhino today – yet) Incredible changing landscapes kept us occupied the rest of the day.
Yesterday near the White lady lodge we saw and tracked the “Mama Africa” herd, which had just had a scare when one of the young calves had fallen into a drain. After finding and following the herd we determined that it was okay and back with the herd.(Thank goodness!)
I’ve really enjoyed my time with EHRA thus far. I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming from Australia, much of the info I received beforehand was second hand. I was a little worried about the heat, working outside and also being much older than the other participants (i.e. /not being able to relate to each other). But the experience has been amazing and exceeded all explanations! The work was hard (physical) and it was hot – but I could have expected that. The group has been a blast – a real mix of ages, gender and nationalities, including the hilarious “swiss boys” on their gap year. Between us we’ve stayed motivated during build week and comradely in patrol week. Hopefully I’ve made some lifelong friends (Chris included,haha) and made a difference to the Desert elephant population in Namibia!!

Thank you EHRA for all the wonderful, positive work that do and our GRAP/Project leaders Chris and Donna (Doner))
Keep up the fantastic work!
(I’m still threatening to send my parents over to do the program soon)
Ali(Alison) van Der Linden
From Dubbo, Australia

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It is the last night of my second patrol week. Having been with EHRA for almost four weeks now, I have had the pleasure of sharing many great memories with lovely people from all around the world. Living out in nature for such a long time must have been the best thing I have done. So far every single time someone spots an animal I still get a rush of excitement , it is wonderful to see so many different animals in their habitat and being “allowed “to stay close by – especially with the Elephants.

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I think the most important thing I have learned out here thus far was respect. Respect for nature, animals and more. Seeing the herd with the calf that had an “accident” showed me that as a human you might want to get in between, see how it is doing, help it and care for it. But as a fact it is not always necessary or needed. We should respect the ways of nature, boundaries that are existing between humans and elephants. Leaving that and appreciating it, I guess that is what EHRA is about. It’s the relation and not the relationship which should be protected for a good existence.
Sorry, going too deep….again! Loving it! Loving halftime 4 more weeks to go!
Sophia Kappus

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Volunteer blog – 19th October – 30th October 2015

(The …… are words Rachel and Victro in the office cannot read from the blog!! If you wrote them please email and let us know!!!)

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Hello, Hi!
What a day! 3 elephant bulls(Voortrekker included) , 15000 year old wall painting and a wonderful trip through the ever-changing landscape of Damaraland. It is wonderful to know that you can share an epic time with people that you have met just a few days earlier – maybe a week ago but still sharing laughs, memories, Gin and Tonics and Marshmallows. Sorry for breaking your perfect stick….sharing the ….aerodynamic super chairs, the lovely Texan ….brought along, it has been a great day.

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Having enjoyed a beef curry in the moonlight – one day till full moon – and wondering if we might be visited by elephants tonight are just a few things I’ll fondly look back on when I’m back home remembering the first day of patrol week.
It strikes me with excitement to share this trip with a great group of people. Always keeping each other updated of things to see along the way, thinking of funny car games and sharing some awesome snacks while sleeping in the midday sun!
Day 1 of Patrol week – Great start! Looking forward to Day 2, more elephants, more ostriches and maybe one or two giraffes.
Sophia

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Tuesday, Lunchtime on patrol in the Ugab River. We have just watched a big bull elephant meander away from us, 100 yards to our right. I claimed him as “my elephant” – the first I spotted before Chris said “There’s an elephant”. Maybe I’m beginning to get me eye in.
Lunch, again, is cheese, ham, jam, peanut butter. You learn to make one slice at a time or the sandwich dries in your hand as you eat. The crusts are nearly toasted within 10 minutes.

Volunteers preparing for wall building
Today’s pee stop is the big camel-thorn about 30 yards to the left. We cannot use the denser bush in front of us as there is a young bull we passed a few hundred yards further down. He may decide to follow the old bull into the bush so we stay clear. We cannot use the denser bush behind us as there may be elephants there too. We have already seen how half a dozen elephants can disappear behind one dense patch. That would be a big surprise for a pee stop!
I find these rules comforting. Mattias and Chris know what they’re doing. I feel safe and so privileged. And yet not so privileged – proud that I worked last week in searing temperatures, building those walls. This is a small piece of heaven and I am so happy I took the plunge to be here.
Rachel

Volunteers collecting rocks

YEBOOOOO! Had an awesome week with crazy Germans and a lot of mommy’s 
I want to come back! Braaing sausages with Chris!
A camp in the middle of the desert. How could I describe this week. A guide, who is more than crazy, a group, which gets messed up! Love it  What should be so nice to stay without wifi, electricity, and often to go to bed soaked with sweat!
I don’t know. I cannot say why it is so fascinating, but it was very nice because you have the feeling to help people.

Lucas

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Volunteer Blog – 5th October – 16th October 2015

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12/10/2015
Danyn Patel

Woke up at Base camp fairly early, and after eating breakfast, and packing cars, we set off for my first patrol day. After a long, and cold drive to Aba Huab, and Huab we had lunch, followed by a short game of cards, then a siesta in the shade.
After the siesta we followed the river bed down to the elephants, during which time we saw Oryx, springbok and kudus. We eventually reached a small group of four elephants and parked the car nearby. The elephants approached us and walked by the cars. The elephants then moved on peacefully. We continued to follow, before finding another group of elephants in the river bed. After a few pictures, we headed off to find a place to camp.

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Our campsite was between two hills on some dunes. We collected some firewood, then set up camp. Me and a couple of others then climbed to the top of the adjacent hill. Dinner was soon prepared, spaghetti carbonara. This was a great end to a great patrol day. For the remainder of the evening we sat around the campfire, then went to sleep.

P.S. The schwaffle by the elephant was an experience I will never forget.

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Volunteer Blog – 10 – 21 August 2015

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EHRA means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

To some, EHRA is seeing elephants up close; feeling their earthy breath on your skin; feeling a connection with these magnificent animals; feeling humble in the presence of these silent giants.

To some, EHRA is sleeping under the stars; cooking over an open fire; driving through vast and empty landscapes.

To some, EHRA is building a wall; working hand in hand with the local farmers; making a difference, however small in may be.

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To me, EHRA is Chris. And I hope you get the chance to meet him. Chris has been managing the EHRA-camp for the last four years. He will be the one greeting you with a cheeky smile on Sunday night, telling you what to expect in the next two weeks. He will be the one to welcome you to Base Camp, his current home in the desert. He will be the one to cook with you and built with you; and he will be the one to share his stories around the fire. Chris will be the one who is always happy to share his knowledge and who is eager to learn about yours. The one to make you laugh telling bad jokes and trying to speak German (…simply add „-en“ at the end of every word – that’s German!). Chris is the one to take you to the elephants and to make you understand what these animals are all about. In so many ways Chris is EHRA and I cannot imagine what this place would be without him.

So, I hope you get the chance to meet Chris. And by the time you leave Base Camp you will feel that you have met a truly good and humble young man. And that you have made a friend for life.

…Or maybe that’s just me.

Gesa

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Volunteer blog – 27th July – 7th August 2015

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Hi my name is Ricky and I am a 6 weeks old baby elephant. Last week I flew over Damaraland for the 1st time in my life! Here is my story:

I was with the herd and we went drinking on a farm. It was very dark and quiet. Suddenly a stampede started and I ran after my mom. I could hear humans making noises and I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I somehow got separated from the herd. They were on the other side of the fence. My mom stayed back but eventually left. Being her first calf she chose the security of the herd. I was alone and lost!

Elephants standingOn Monday morning the Quantum was not ready and we were trying to fit all the volunteers in Rachel’s, Colin’s and Hendricks’s car to bring them up to base camp. Adding to the stress of not having the mini bus at the beginning of the trip, Joe received pictures of a baby elephant that had been separated from its herd on a farm in the Kamanjab area. Nobody knew where its herd was and the little elephant had been on its own for two nights.

Phone calls were made and people were trying to make a plan. Axel from SRT , having done work for the MET as a vet went there and looked after the little one for a day. The baby was later looked after by somebody from a nearby lodge after he left.

Feeding timeIt is on Tuesday morning that the EHRA team headed off with the two 4 by 4’s, not to go build a wall but with the mission of finding the herd the baby elephant belongs to! After 4 days of tracking the herd in very rough terrain the volunteers went back to the camp to carry on with the normal schedule of the trip. On Friday afternoon Axel and I got to the farm where the baby was. We arrived at night and upon our arrival we discover that the baby was lying on the ground, very sick with an infection and had difficulty breathing.

on the way to the carThe farm owner called Frank and all his family, with the help of Colin and Doc Betsy Fox had packed hay for the calf to rest on and had put some warm blanket over it. The vet immediately put a drip on the elephant’s ear and started to rehydrate it. After a few hours he switched to a glucose solution to boost it and 30 minutes later it was back on its legs, so we loaded it at the back of a car and drove it to the farm where it spent the night. A horse stable had been accommodated for it and a small kraal built in front of it in case the small one wanted to go for a walk. The environment was more suitable for the young elephant and if it was not for the help of Axel and the people we met that night , it would have been dead the same evening .

on a dripKnowing that now the elephant was safe and rehydrated, we all went in the house and stood by the fire and went on a Heineken drip to rehydrate ourselves after a long evening!
The next morning we woke up and walked Ricky in the sun to warm up and he really enjoyed it but was so weak we had to carry him back inside with the help of a blanket under his belly. Frank offered to fly Ricky to another lodge where 4 young elephants had been hand raised and lived in a small compound under the supervision of a very reputable vet. So here we put the baby once more on drips to get it up and strong enough to make it through the 20 minutes flight to its new home. We landed while a car was chasing 2 gemsbok and a blesbok off the airstrip and the baby was driven to the compound where 4 very inquisitive young elephants where waiting, waving their trunks in the air trying to get a sniff of the newcomer.

baby ele in the planeJust after we arrived an elephant milk substitute was mixed for the baby and it swallowed 3 liters of it! It was very tired and very thirsty! It now was in the best of hands and had the best chances of surviving. A caretaker would now spend all of its time with it and the baby would be fed the right food and have the affection it needed.

We all flew back to the Garubib farm and soon a fire was lit and dinner was on its way. We all sat outside exhausted by another long day in the bush. We were all put on a Gin and tonic drip which we all needed. We all enjoyed dinner and shared past experiences in the bush while sitting under the light of paraffin lamps! The only thing we inevitably ended up talking about was the exciting adventure we had been part of, and most importantly all the amazing people that had been part of it. We all worked towards the same goal and did it in the best way we could. We had the right people with the right attitude.

everybody in the planeI would like to thank all the people that have been involved in the rescue for their hospitality, generosity, knowledge on the subject and the positive energy that emanated from everybody!
I am very sad to announce to everybody that on Sunday afternoon the baby died, in the compound it was at. We were all so hopeful because the baby seemed to be fine and after all the mountains we moved to make it happen we were only thinking about its survival. Effectively hand raising baby elephants is really difficult and we gave that little one the best chance it had! We are all affected by the death of Ricky but it is only nature!
Nonetheless it was a very positive experience, because we will make sure that in the future, infrastructures are in place to deal with such situation and protocols are followed to be as quick and effective as we can. Should I also mention the nice people we met and good contacts we have made!

Chris

2015 08 09

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