Work week 20th – 25th April
Work week was really enjoyable, our task was to build the foundations for a circular defensive wall around a windmill tower water pump and a well to head height.
On arrival we drove up to the site to drop the materials and tools and then set up camp about ¼ of a mile below, amongst a group of taller trees. The mini-bus got a puncture, but we managed to get it to the camp to change the tyre, so it didn’t really delay our work. The first full work on the site was to collect sand and then several trailers of stones and dig out the foundations – This was hard work and quite a shallow trench as the ground was extremely rocky.
The start on the foundations was delayed a little due to water politics – we had to wait for a tanker to arrive to fill the small reservoir tank.
When we were collecting rocks we saw a few black and white scorpions and some small light green lizards. We put in the foundations the built up the wall around 50% to waist height the rest to about ¾ meter height. The whole week was really enjoyable and everybody worked really hard – good team work and lots of enthusiasm: and great food! All of which left me feeling that I would have liked to stay longer-very happy to have done another week and would love to come back again – thank you to everyone for making it such a great week.
I want to start my first sentence by saying that I am happy to be part of the EHRA team of 2015 that will be contributing to the conservation efforts of the Kunene and Erongo region. My 3 weeks here at EHRA has been a continuous process of learning. I learn on the ground and I learn more every week. I still have 5 more weeks to go as a volunteer/intern which I am eagerly looking forward to in anticipation. I have to admit to myself that build week is really tough, namely because you work under the mean deserted climate of Damaraland mixing cement and building the wall. However, we don’t build this walls because we are bricklayers, we build this walls to avoid and / or mitigate human – wildlife conflict as part of the conservation efforts and it is for a cause that sees towards a better relations between elephants and humans. The second week is more relaxed, we do patrolling to monitor population numbers of elephants as well as other game, overlapping into anti-poaching activities such as watching suspicious methodological activities of potential poaching in the respective areas where we camp.
The lackadaisical attempts by functionary ministries to address the issue of poaching is taking us to the some pariah status of Zimbabwe and EHRA has been working independently, doing patrols to make sure that these animals are conserved, that there is a peaceful co-existence between elephants and humans in Damaraland which is one of the main tourist hotspots in Namibia. I am welcoming and congratulating these attempts by EHRA in the name of tourism because if we don’t conserve and protect our wildlife now, we won’t have a tourism industry tomorrow. Namibia is lauded as the first country in Africa to adopt the protection of its environment in the constitution and we are doing good tourism-wise. It is true that our tourism industry is starting to be frustrated by poaching which is like a cancer eating the industry from the core, however I am highly optimistic that this systematic killings we read in newspapers will stop if we have an EHRA in more parts of the country to fast-track our conservation efforts. All in all, I am happy, I was inaugurated as an EHRA member and got my EHRA t-shirt and looking forward to tomorrows elephants patrol. Auf wietersehen!!!
Garuan Gariseb – Internwith EHRA. BA (Hons) Tourism Management from the University of Namibia
Thursday April 30, 2015
It was first time in Africa and my trip with EHRA was everything I could hope for: adventure, education, an opportunity to contribute and to meet really great people from all different countries. Oh yeah, elephants, zebra, springbok, kudu, giraffe, ostrich, oryx and rhino too!
I also want to give a special shout out to Jill. The airlines lost my bag and I didn’t see it for 5 days. Jill leant or shared everything from t-shirt to toothpaste, water bottle and even a camera. Also thanks to Mattias Chris for their knowledge, tracking skill and tutor talk.
Deborah (doesn’t want to leave) USA
Thursday 30th April 2015
To see elephants in the wild has been a long held dream for me – since I was a child – This is the first time I have been in Southern Africa and my first opportunity to see wild elephants. Monday the 27 was therefore amazing for me to be so close up to the G6 group was deeply emotional and intense experience. So the next day was simply mind blowing to come in and amongst the Mamma Africa group with other males and a smaller group 23 elephants and to be within their collective and watch their interactions was beyond my wildest dreams. Nothing could top this – I thought – but then on Wednesday we saw the G6 group again and 3 males and one of the males Cheeky came right up to the truck and put on a sand bath display – then we watched the three males in a bonding – greeting: I cannot really find the words to describe being in their space – it was one of the most amazing three days of my life. I am very grateful to EHRA for making this possible, and to all of the fellow volunteers on the two weeks for making it all such a wonderful experience.
Thanks to everyone and especially to the EHRA staff for providing the possibility to meet the elephants in such a natural space….
Two weeks with EHRA (20th April – May 1 2015)
– Sleeping in the big Anna tree – lovely beyond imagination
– The southern constellations, about which I learned a lot and who became friends
– The big open space of Damaraland – open space like the beginning of time and mankind
– The feeling of coming to a place where man (are at home) have originated from, of coming home (sounds kitsch, but that’s how it felt)
– Meeting local people/ farmers not as a guest in a lodge, but with a shovel, mixing cement…
– Seeing and watching all these animals, above all, the elephants…das Olifant”
– The campfires on Patrol
– Meeting the baboons, the Go-Away-Birds, the Lizards…
Thank you everybody and God bless you all. Blessing to all who care for our mother-earth and her creatures.
Special thanks to Mattias (Alles Super!), Garuan – strongest guy, Jill – the most immaculate guide, Chris Monsieur,,Gudden”, and all the lovely co-volunteers.
Urte (from Germany) 30th April 2015
Two weeks – this is too short a time for such a magical, marvellous, enriching experience here with EHRA. I never thought that mixing cement and setting stones in place in the desert heat could be so much fun! The energy created by everybody working together with such enthusiasm and humour helped me to do things I never knew I could, and I will take that home with me. Then the patrol week – I have travelled a lot, and had wonderful experiences among wild beings – but this has been one of the very best. It is so very special to meet the elephants when you have spent a week working to help make their lives here easier, and help the people live with them without conflict. How wonderful not to be a safari tourist among these majestic beings – thank you to everybody for making this possible – Chris for his amazing skills and experience, Jill for all her dedication and care for everybody and for her impeccable elegance in the bush! And to all my fellow volunteers and Mattias for the laughs!
Thank you and blessings