More Volunteering Testimonials and Stories about our Elephant Volunteer Project in Namibia

Blog Notes from the field - March 2011

Hello from the wildside!! Another two weeks has passed by, it’s amazing how quickly time flys out here. Another team of volunteers made up of our repeating ‘old hands’ Angela from New Zealand, Karen from Australia, Tristan from the UK were joined by Marc and Aled from the UK, Nichola from New Zealand, Ricardo from Brazil and Ursula from Switzerland! Jessica, our work experience student of course still with us and as always Mattias joined the group for both weeks. So another very international group! The group put in a lot of effort and worked really hard in the heat – it has been extremely hot these last 2 weeks.

Our build week was located once again down river of base camp near the Village of Anixab. The farmer has a small commercial camping site on the river, his water supply is from a well that has no kind of protection so a protection wall is being built around the well. After the volunteers got to the build site work commenced and our wall has started to take shape. It was very hot and the team did very well considering the conditions and temperatures. Our next team should be able to finish this project, especially as it’s a full group.

The weekend was as usual spent relaxing and our regular Sunday trip to Uis and the swimming pool was welcomed by everyone in the team.

Monday and time for patrol, I think everyone was keen to get out and track down some elephants as we were packed and ready to go before 8am! Our aim for patrol was to head up to the Guantagab River system and have a look for any signs of elephant in the area and then to head up north to see if we could locate any of our elephants up there. We found the Ugab Small Herd in the Guantagab area. We spent most of Monday and some of Tuesday with this herd. Something of concern to us was that one of the cows (The Dowager) is missing and it showed – the herd wandered around in a very random way and the herd was unusually very wary of us, but we stayed with them from a distance to check the condition of all of the group. Tuesday was spent with the herd and searching for any signs of the missing cow, unfortunately nothing was found.

Wednesday we headed up to a couple of dams where last year we identified two new herds. After some driving around and speaking to local farmers we learnt that these herds have not been in the area for the last 2 months. Mattias and I consulted and decided we should try and find the herd G6 , one of our local herds that we havent seen this year so far. We headed back to our local area and picked up tracks, we managed to see some animals in the distance from a koppie, so we headed in their direction. There were tracks everywhere and I found myself a little puzzled, so decided to call camp for the night. Wednesday is my night for cooking so while I was busy Jessica and Ursula went to photograph the tracks and nearly bumped into G6 coming the other way! They quickly returned to where we were camped and watched G6 move past the opposite side of the koppie, a great way to end the day.

Thursday we tried to track G6 but again they out foxed me!!! We wanted to see if The Dowager was with the herd but that will have to wait until next patrol! We returned to base camp hot, tired and in need of a serious shower, but I think the smiles on everyone’s faces says it all at the end of the day.

Thank you to the team, you were all great and the hard work and fun was brilliant! I hope you enjoyed yourselves and take something away in your hearts that makes you smile when you think of your time with us. I hope to see you back here again one day. Until next time see you on the wildside!


Blog Notes from the field - February 2011

Hello from the wild side.Our second group for the year has just finished and again, they were a great team. The group consisted of Karen McDonald from Australia, Angela Weber and Nicola Bishop from New Zealand, Hannah Landenberger from Germany, Kevin and Isaac Sliwowics from Canada, Tristan Langley and Jake Bennet from UK and Maria Mitzali and Niki Bartzi from Greece. They put in a lot and I hope they got what they wanted out of the 2 weeks. Thank you team for the effort.

Build week was at De Rust to finish off what we had started 2 weeks before. It was alot of work and the team did a great job finishing the wall at 18:30 on Friday. I have to admit to slightly cheating on this build week as we used some old bricks from a house ruin, which made things a bit easier than our usual jigsaw style when using rocks from the nearby hills. The week was extremely hot and very little rain fell while we were there which made hard work even harder, but the team put in some great work. On Saturday morning Mattias brought the farmer down to the wall and the team got a chance to meet him.

The weekend was spent relaxing and trying to keep out of the sun. We took our usual Sunday trip to Uis for lunch, swim, and to get fresh supplies.

Patrol week found us once again looking for our local herds as I was interested to see if G6 and the Ugab small herd were hanging around in the area that we had located Mamma Afrika in our previous patrol. Monday was once again a slow day as locating the elephants in the thick mopani / acacia bush can be very challenging. We had seen some bulls from the top of koppies, but once on the ground just couldn’t pick them up. We made camp that evening a little frustrated. Tuesday· Mattias and myself had come up with a new strategy which worked beautifully for our first sighting of the week. We found 2 bulls, Bennie and Cheeky. Bennie is a great bull and was quite relaxed, but Cheeky has always been a little scared of vehicles, and he moved away· at our approach. After spending some time with the bulls it was back to tracking the herds. We located one of the herds late in the day from the top of a koppie, but once again we lost the tracks on the ground. Rain forced us to call camp· a little frustrated again.

Wednesday we set off looking for fresh tracks, we hadn’t got far when eagle-eyed Tristan spotted the elephants in the bush ahead of us. It was Mamma Afrika’s herd. We spent the entire day with the herd watching them dig for water and feeding as they made their way through the bush. We had a little break at midday and just to add another dimension to the day, one of the team managed to get himself lost while returning from a bathroom break. I won’t mention names, but Marco Polo you know who you are. When you come back one day i will have a bell to attach to your neck. The day was a good one and camp was called with some very contended souls. Thursday we got lucky again finding Mamma Afrika’s herd. We spent a couple of hours watching them have a good dust bath and then headed back to the camp.

Thank you to the team.It was a pleasure to be out in the bush with you. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and hope to see you again one day. Until next time, see you on the wild side.


Clare Fyfe, who spent 8 weeks on the project this summer

Hi Vicky

I can certainly recommend the Desert Elephant Project - having been in Namibia for 8 weeks it is easy to see that the money paid to volunteer does go to the project which I think is a concern until one has seen for oneself. I had an amazing time; so much so that I am considering returning next year. . . .

I'm considered by friends and family to be a bit of a city girl although I do live in the Scottish countryside so it was a surprise to them to hear I'd booked up for 8 weeks with this project. The whole idea of tracking the eles fascinated me and I wanted to join a real - out in the desert - programme; I was not interested in anything cosy or cuddly. Build week is a great way to get to know one's fellow volunteers and to participate in something lasting and so worthwhile - it's a good feeling to see the wall growing in front of your eyes; day by day. Camping out each night is special and I will never forget the eles walking by as I was drifting off to sleep on our night watch - I was not 'on watch' at the time I hasten to add - my turn came later. Being able to observe eles in their own habitat, not on a reserve, is a privilege and the memory will stay with me always. Thank you for enabling me to a) have the time of my life and b) for doing what you do!

Blog Notes from the field - October 2010

Hello from the wild side. A very eventful past two weeks with another great team has passed. Out with us has been: Ben from Canada, Joe from the UK via France, Navrinder, Abigail, Sarah, and Denzil from the UK, Rene from the Netherlands, Urs and Ursula from Switzerland and Meredith from the US via South Africa.
You all made a great team and did great work.
We would also like to thank Stafford who has been with us since August. The full EHRA team would like to thank him for his energy and dedication to the various projects he worked on during his time with us. We wish him well on his future travels and he will be missed!

Build Week
Build week was located down river from base camp near the village of Anixab on a farm called Quidepos. The farmers use an old hand pump which should be in a museum but works beautifully. They were protecting the pump with branches and logs from old trees but their "fence" didn't really stand a chance against a determined elephant. The team worked hard and fast all week, completing two thirds of the wall-a great effort! The week was very hot and dusty as the wind played havoc with those on cooking duty having to resort to preparing meals inside the kitchen tent to avoid getting sand in the meals.
The team managed to work through 15 bags of cement by Friday lunchtime so after lunch we packed up and headed back. A mention must be made of the very kind gesture by Urs and Ursula who have offered to pay for some new pipes for the water system on the farm. The old system has numerous holes and I know this gesture has and will be much appreciated by the farmers and by EHRA. Thank you both on behalf of all of us.

The weekend was spent relaxing except for Saturday morning when I put the team to work finishing off a fence at base camp. Some old fashioned rounders turned a bit odd when members of opposing teams started running away with the bases and some slightly illegal holding back of runners took place. In true EHRA style, an elephant stopped play. The elephants are really staying in the river systems and both Saturday and Sunday nights found elephants moving past camp during the night. After our Sunday Uis visit it was on to patrol and time to find some elephants.

Our main objective during patrol week was to locate our local herds and in particular Mama Africa's group. I still needed to confirm who the mother is of the new calf. We set off on Monday in the direction of the wetlands where we had last seen them 2 weeks ago. On our way down river we picked up Longshanks-one of the bigger bulls. He is looking a little thin but as the toughest part of the year is about to end, his condition should improve again soon. We carried on down river and after lunch found Voortrekker and Noah feeding on Ana tree seed pods. Both animals are looking healthy and just before the end of the day we picked up the Ugab small herd and 2 northern area bulls giving us a total of 5 different bulls and 1 herd by the end of the day. What a way to start patrol!

Tuesday morning and back in the river we picked up the Ugab small herd again. After skirting around them we found G6 not much further down the river. They were nervous at our approach and started off into the thick bush. As they made their way off we noticed a very young calf at the front of the group so it would seem they have a new calf as well. We tried to get ahead of them but lost them in the thick bush alongside the river. We continued down river into the 3rd wetland and found Mama Africa's group-they clearly had the upper hand and made it difficult to view the herd. We stopped for lunch with the hope that they would return up river during the hottest part of the day. Luck was not with us as after a couple of hours of waiting the only elephant we saw was Noah who also moved off into the thick bush. As we drove out of the river system camp was called and a night was spent under the amazing Brandberg mountain.

Wednesday we headed up the river system picking up Noah and then Bennie. Bennie is starting to fill out really well and I think soon he will start competing for mating rights with the other bigger bulls. After some lunch and some drinks at the White Lady Lodge we set out in search of the herds. Near the end of the day we picked up the Ugab small herd, Mama Africa and 3 different bulls. Once again they were in a difficult area and only fleeting glimpses of the calf didn't help us to identify who the mother is. Camp was called quite late with still no result on the mother.

Thursday had to be the day we got lucky early finding Mama Africa, Ugab small herd, G6, Voortrekker and the 2 northern bulls all in one group feeding all over the river. Patience was the key as we waited in the middle of the river for the new calf to cross over with mom. Eventually as the elephants moved around us the calf appeared and we can now confirm that the mother is The Duchess!

Having confirmed this we headed out before we got encircled by the group and started to make our way back picking Bennie up on the way! All in all an incredible patrol week and the priority for next patrol will be to get confirmation on the calf in G6.
A very big thank you to the group. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and will come back again one day. It was a pleasure to be out there with you! Once again, see you on the wild side.

Blog Notes from the field 27th Sept – 8th Oct

Hello from the wildside once again! We've had a great two weeks. With us were Ben from Canada, Joe-UK/France, Rene and Chris from the Netherlands, Meredith USA via South Africa, Dittmer and Hans from Germany, Emma and Manuela from the UK, Urs from Switzerland, and Stafford from Australia. A Big thank you to all of them for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Build Week
Build week was located only a short distance from base camp so we traveled each day down to the build site. Our job this week was to help our neighbor Festus with his well which is in the Ugab river. The well was dug about 3 meters down but only about 1 1/2 meters of the walls were built before Festus ran out of cement. Our team got straight to work and the walls grew slowly and steadily. Stafford took charge of the building project as Mathias was on a much needed break and I was busy at camp with vehicles and some camp maintenance. The team really pulled together and by Friday the walls of the well were above ground level and suitably reinforced. Some interesting weather during the week had us holding our breath as the rain tried to fall but to no avail as only a few drops fell. The well was completed and the team even made a wooden lid for it.

The weekend was, as usual, spent relaxing. The team had some fun cleaning out the elephant drinking pool. Unfortunately Dittmer had some urgent tasks at work so I had to take him back to Swakop over the weekend so he could fly back to Germany. We were however, joined by Manuela who was supposed to have been on the fund raising trek which was postponed until next year. Rachel and Doreen dropped by camp on Sunday and spent a fun night at camp with everyone.


Monday found us on patrol-looking and hoping to find Mama Africa and her herd. The reason for this was that the previous week we got a report from The White Lady Lodge of a cow with a newborn calf near the lodge. I had gone down and confirmed the report with Kobus from the White Lady. I hadn't got the best of looks at the calf but I wanted to double check and see how it was getting on. We set off down the Ugab river. After passing the White Lady Lodge we entered the wetlands, we picked up fresh tracks but of a lone bull and quickly caught up to him in the late afternoon. Bennie (the lone bull) looks healthy and he was very relaxed. We stayed with him as he browsed his way up river. Camp was called and a few of us climbed a Koppie (hill) to watch the sunset. From the top we spotted the Ugab small herd and Voortrekker coming up the river. A beautiful end to the first day of patrol.

Day 2 and we carried on down the river hoping to pick up fresh tracks. We pushed through the wetlands but still no tracks. I felt the herd wouldn't have moved so far with a new calf so we turned around and headed back up river. We bumped into the Ugab small herd not far from where we had camped the previous night and spent the rest of the morning with them. The herd looks healthy and Cynthia, the calf, is starting to move away from her mother more and more as she gains confidence; although she does scuttle back to mom when she smells or hears something she isn't sure of. After lunch and a rest we continued up river finding both Bennie and Voortrekker in different areas of the wetlands. Camp was called with still no sign of Mama Africas herd.

Day 3 and back to looking for any sign of Mama Africa. We continued up river and once again found Voortrekker who had passed us during the night. He gave us a great time as he demonstrated how a 3 1/2 ton bull elephant climbs a tree! It was an amazing sight to see. He got his two front legs onto a broken branch and reached up into a tree to get to some seed pods he really (really!) wanted. Full stretch, full height-absolutely amazing! Heading off again we made our way back towards base camp. Just short of camp we came across 2 bull elephants that moved quickly away from us and into the thick bush so we couldn't get a good ID on them. We carried on back to camp for lunch. On arrival at camp we found destruction and mayhem-the two bulls we had just seen had come into camp during the night and done some serious damage. They broke into the vegetable garden, broke the sails in the workshop and pulled apart one of the showers! I love elephants but sometimes they do test my patience! After lunch we headed for an area called Desert Thistle where a natural spring provides water all year round-but again no tracks of Mama Africa. Camp was called as we entered the river system.

Day 4 and we started on our way back to base camp. Near Anixab we picked up fresh tracks, but again, only of the bulls. We located 3 bulls shortly thereafter. These 3 bulls were very wary of us and neither Mathias or myself could ID them in the thick bush so we hung around and after a short time they relaxed and allowed us to get closer. I realized 2 out of 3 were bulls I know from our northern area some 60 kilometers away and 1 bull I had not seen before. We got some ID photos and spent some time with them. Stafford named the unknown bull "Diesel" which no one objected to. We left them resting in the river and headed back.

I would like once again to say thank you to the team. You guys and girls were great. It was a pleasure to be out there with you and I hope to see you all again-See you on the wildside!

Blog Notes from the field 13th – 24th September 2010

Hello again from the wildside, the last 2 weeks have been an adventure to say the least! An awesome group made up of Ben, Joe, Annabelle, Katie, Chris, Gareth, Karin, Matt, Sam, Rene, Cornelia, and joining us was Doreen-our U.S. Director who is also helping Rachel with the school groups and in the office. It was a pleasure to have her with us.

Build Week
Building week was back again at Middlepos 1 for the second and hopefully last week there. Our previous build week there made us aware of the shortage of water so we took an extra 5oo Liters of water with us. The team got straight to work and the wall developed quickly. Around midweek I left the group to fetch Joe, who had some flight problems getting to Namibia. Luckily we managed to return to the work site on the same day. The team showed awesome spirit and had the wall completed before the weekend, but I wasn't about to let them have a long weekend as I had some work planned for camp. Our trip back to camp took a little longer than planned with a couple of vehicular problems holding us up.

Weekend time was spent relaxing with some ultimate frisbee and a game of cricket thrown in. Both games came to premature ends as Stafford managed to injure his knee in the frisbee (his team was losing so not sure if he was just faking...) and the cricket /rounders match ended when our tennis ball split in two. Lots of laughter echoing through the riverbed though!

Patrol started on Monday with us heading out in the direction of the Huab river system hoping to catch up with herds in that area. It seemed that our vehicle gremlin was still with us, but as we say..."we made a plan" and by the end of our first day we were watching the H2 herd moving through some mopani bush near the Huab. The herd looks in great shape, all the animals looking good and lots of play/fighting going on between the calves. Boss, the sub-adult bull is getting more confident and the cows in the herd will start to push him away in a couple of years. Camp was called late in the day as we left the herd.

Day 2 found us following the tracks of H2 down to the Huab and to a farm called De Riet. From the farm we could see the herd moving our way so we waited there for them. The herd came into the village looking for water but the village pump was broken so the herd just milled around. At this point our vehicle gremlin worked its way into the Unimog, as I was connecting the tow rope Boss decided he wanted a closer look at us and sauntered over. He made close inspection and tested the suspension by putting a foot on the bullbar of the patrol vehicle, he then decided to smell Doreen with his trunk only a couple inches away from her. I'm sure I could hear her heartbeat. He then casually walked away into the village. The volunteers did great by remaining calm and still. It's an incredible experience to have a wild elephant only feet away from you. As Boss walked through the village a couple of people started to harass him and the group got to see what kind of stress and pressure is placed on these beautiful animals everyday. We managed to get the Unimog going and headed out. We carried on down the river spotting some gemsbok, kudu, and springbok along with the ostriches, of course. All of our game sightings are recorded and passed along to the MET. We got lucky just before lunch and we found Raphael and another young bull feeding on the acacia in the river, both animals look good and healthy and completely relaxed. We spent a little time with them before taking our midday break. After lunch we headed out into the desert making our way to towards the Ugab river system. We pitched camp at a camp called Hyena camp in the desert under the light of a very bright full moon. An area that truly is thought provoking and awe-inspiring. Harsh and beautiful at the same time.

Day 3 and we entered the Ugab river system near Save The Rhino (STR) camp. We headed up river in hopes of finding our local herds. Unfortunately our vehicle gremlin was still with us and reduced the patrol vehicle to a 2x4 instead of the power of a 4x4. Meaning we had to tow it through some of the wetlands and areas of deep sand. Camp was called and the night spent in the river bed.

Our last day was and extremely long one-all I'm going to say is that our vehicle gremlin turned into a monster and wreaked havoc!
To all the volunteers who contributed towards the wall-Thank you! To my group over the last two weeks, I thank you for your spirit and patience and your unending understanding. You were a great team and I hope to see you again. See you on the wildside.

Blog Notes from the field 30th August – 10th September

Hello again from the wildside, two weeks have come and gone and yet again what a great 2 weeks! With us were Ben from Canada who is spending 10 weeks with EHRA, Sarah, Richard, Sharron, Astryd and Tim from the UK, Chris from the Netherlands, David, Lorenz and Cornelia from Germany and Kim and Meredith from the USA!

Build Week
Build week found us heading to a new farm called Middle Pos 1, this farm is again up near Khorixas, so after meeting up with the farmer we followed him to the farm which is located about 10km east of Khorixas in very rough terrain. The team set up camp and got cracking on with the work. One of our volunteers had a delay in getting to Swakopmund on Sunday so I headed back to base camp on Tuesday to then collect her from Uis later on the Wednesday. Stafford, Matthias and the team continued with the work on the farm while I waited for our lost volunteer. I believe the team devised a plan to get the windmill pumping quicker as the water on the farm was in short supply, well done to them for that! It turned out I could only collect Chris, our lost volunteer, on Thursday so we stayed at base camp for Friday and waited for the return of the rest of the group.

The weekend as always was packed full of laughs and relaxation, although sleep was hard to get at times due to the fact that the elephants in the area thought camp was a great place as well! Both Voortrekker and the Ugab Small herd came right into camp and browsed on the Ana trees around the sleeping platform, at times within a couple of metres of still sleeping volunteers! An amazing experience for the volunteers.

Monday found us heading for the Huab River system in hopes of finding the two local herds in this area, H1 and H2. It's been a while since we last saw these groups so I was very keen on finding them. Picking up tracks late on Monday of some bulls, we moved into the river system and camp was called. It was an eventful end to the day as vehicles got stuck in sand and Sharron had a fight with a tree that left her nose bloodied and a couple of black eyes!! (Mattias got the tree back, don't worry!) Then as darkness fell we could hear and elephant feeding his way along the river. Tuesday found us on the fresh tracks of the bull which we managed to catch up to and enjoyed some time with him at the start of the Huab Wetland. The bull was new to us, so we were able to get some new ID photos, once we had done this we headed through the wetland looking for the herds and with no luck, camp was called a good night rest was had by everyone.
On Wednesday we got lucky, as we entered the river system we picked up fresh tracks of one of the herds. We gave chase and eventually found them up one of the sharp valleys that surround the river. They were feeding in an area which wasn’t great for our vehicles to get into so we rather climbed up a koppie (hill) and watched H1 with the hope that they would come back into the river, but no luck! In the afternoon we headed back down the river again and found the single bull from the day before. Camp was called in time to watch a beautiful sunset over the African Bush. Thursday found us on our return drive to camp and with hope of catching one of our local Ugab herds but with no luck! Still a great patrol though! The trip ended with a sock wrestling game at base camp with Germany (Lorenz) taking the champion position.

Thanks to all of this project's team it was great to have everyone out there and everyone worked so hard with a great attitude. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and will come back again soon. Hope to see you all again on the wildside!

Blog Notes from the field July 2010

Hello again from the wildside! I say this every time but once again this last 2 weeks has been great, the group consisted of Sue and Clare, Stephanie, Clare, Richard, Emma, Robert, and Judy from the UK and Emily, Marianna, Sebastian and Noah from the USA and Claes from Sweden, Shayne from New Zealand and Pierre from France. The group did great work and it was a pleasure to be out in the bush with them!

Building Week
Build week was once again back at Halt Pos 1, a farm near Khorixas. The team did great work, it was an effort but with everyone doing all they could we got the wall finished. A lot of sweat and the odd drop of blood went into this wall and i would like to say thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this project. The group got a good introduction to the project during the build week when one evening while sitting around the fire, Pierre spotted a young bull elephant coming up to camp, the group watched as he walked past us not 25m away! It was just a quick curious greeting and then he moved on. Thanks to all the teams who helped construct this wall.

Back at camp the weekend was time for relaxing and some fun. The team organised the 1st Bush Olympics, great fun was had and lots of laughs. The events varied from gymnastics and swimming. In the end I sadly have to say that a Kiwi (Shayne) has won the 1st of many Bush Olympics. I think Africa will have to step up next time and bring the title home!

We set off on Monday out towards the Groen Dam area with hopes of getting some ID photos of our new elephants. Day 1 was quiet until we got to the dam where we found 3 bulls. We spent some time with them and got some good ID photos, then headed back to the dam to camp the night and hopefully catch a glimpse of any ellies that came down to drink. A good night with the full moon providing the spotlight - another 4 bulls and a herd visited during the night. Day 2 saw us in pursuit of the bulls and we managed to catch up to 1 of them, he was drinking at a farm resevoir which gave the group the chance to see exactly how local people react to this situation. We watched the bull get harassed and move away into a small river bed. He had enough and we left him in peace. We had lunch and then caught up to another 3 bulls which we spent some time with getting ID photos. Camp was made that evening with everyone thinking of a solid nights sleep! Day 3 started with a bang as Matthias spotted a bull feeding close to camp. We managed to spot another group of bulls not far away so tracking was made easy that day! After a good morning we headed back towards camp with hope of locating 1 of our local herds. We didn't have any luck, but we did spot a Cheetah out near the dunes, he ran at our approach and we were left with nothing but a dust cloud as he pushed his 115km/hour running speed! Camp was called at 17.00 and we all enjoyed the evening chatting around the fire. Day 4 started with us tracking back towards camp and got out smarted by a young bull in the Ugab river as he moved into thick bush where we couldnt follow. We arrived back at camp and everyone got a chance to relax and enjoy the first shower of the week!

Thank you to everyone who took part, it is always a pleasure to take people such as yourselves out in to the bush. Thank you for your time and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and good friends were made. Until next time see you on the wildside!

Blog Report from the Wildside - June 2010

Hello again from the wildside, I say it every time but again we have had an amazing 2 weeks. This time the team consisted of Katrin and HR from Switzerland, Sue and Clare from the UK, who are here for 8 weeks, Kelly from Belgium, Claes from Sweden, Pua-Noa from the USA, Tito from Chile and Silke who is from Namibia and is of our very first Namibian volunteer! Again Mattias from EHRA was with us for the two weeks and he is settling in really well! I must say a big thank you to everyone for being great, full of laughter and for working so hard, which makes my job/life so rewarding!

Building week found us back in the Khorixas area on a new project - a farm called HALT-POST 1, where 2 walls will be built to help the farmers there. The elephants in this area had already knocoked down the windmill which the farmer replaced with a diesel pump but the elephants are still causing a bit of hassle by pulling up pipes and playing around with the pump. We started with the wall around the pump and the volunteers found out what it was like to sweat in the African sun! We got a fair amount done and our next team will continue with the project.

We returned to camp on Friday and a long relaxing weekend was had by the team. Camp was a busy place with John Leach's group from Emory University in the USA sharing with us. The team travelled to Uis with Mattias on Sunday to enjoy a swin and a meal and to collect our supplies for patrol while I took John's group elephant tracking for the day.

We headed out on patrol on Monday planning on going down to the wetlands but tracks of the Ugab Small herd stopped us short on the road, I thought they were heading for the 1st wetland so we proceeded there but only found old tracks, so we tracked back to the Ugab river and picked up fresh tracks. We have chase and caught up to them 500m from our base camp!! We can now confirm that this herd has a new calf, only about 3 weeks old and a little shaky on its feet and wondering what this long this is hanging off it's face! We think it could be a bull calf and the team gave him the name Popeye. The herd spent the afternoon around base camp, we watched them have their sundowners from the rocks above the elephant drinking pool and make their way off at around 17.00, so camp was called in base camp (another night of 'luxury' for the team!!)

We headed out on Tuesday in pursuit of the same group, around Midday we located a bull who was with the Ugab Small Herd the day before but was now on his own, we got settled into watch him for a bit and try and get ID photos, when he promptly decided we were boring and lay down under a Mopani tree and fell asleep! So we did the same, grabbed some lunch and siesta! After lunch we watched the bull and got our ID photos then headed out to an area where we don't know the herds, this area is about halfway between our base camp and Khorixas. The plan was to camp next to a dam for the ngiht and follow any fresh tracks. Camp was set up and a rota made with the team, the idea was to sit up and hopefully try and count any elephants if they came to drink. All I can say is 'WHAT A NIGHT!' we counted 36 animals, apparently the elephants heard of our plan and decided it was a good one! Watching the elephants come past our camp and drink from the dam was an amazing, awesome experience. We will for sure do this again!
We had 2 herds come down during the night, made up of 17 and 12 animals respectively with the rest being bulls in ones or twos. On Wednesday we tried to track the herds, but with no luck as the herds in this area retreat into sharp inaccessible valleys during the heat of the day, so it was a day of following tracks and learning the area. Camp was made out in the bush and I think everyone enjoyed a solid nights sleep. On Thursday morning there were no fresh tracks so we headed back to base camp where during lunch we were welcomed back by the bull elephant we had seen on Tuesday, a great way to end the patrol!
Thank you to everyone for your amazing hard work and the amazing experiences. I hope to see you all again and hope you enjoyed your time out in the bush. See you on the wild side! Neil

Feedback from Aaron Sohi, 27 yrs old from the UK, June 2010

Namibia is a beautiful country and it was a pleasure to be there. In the course of the tracking week we were given the oppurtunity to explore more remote parts of the country and I found this an excellent experience. The country was crammed with interesting flora and fauna and I would happily come back in future.

The work was certainly valuable. The amenities at the camp were good. Everything required was there. Anything more and it would be too much like a hotel. I feel the facilities were in keeping with the environment and the food was generally excellent throughout.

3 positives - the level of knowledge displayed by Neil in particular and the other trackers of the animals, area and habitat was truly impressive and added to my enjoyment. The hospitality of the team as a whole was first class and we encountered many amazing animals in the course of the project, getting close enough so as to be truly exhilerating but never dangerous (or anymore dangerous than such is possible when dealing with wild animals).

The management of the project was 1st class, the costs were very fair and I had an allround excellent time!

Hope this helps