Wildlife conservation, community and environmental volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Wildlife Conservation & San Bushmen Community Project, Namibia

2 to 12 weeks from

minimum age

  • Get involved in carnivore research of leopards, cheetahs and hyenas in the Namib Desert
  • Help to protect, rehabilitate and care for vulnerable wildlife at the Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Provide medical support to the San Bushmen community assisting doctors in their medical clinic
  • Join specialist veterinary and wildlife rehabilitation courses to expand your conservation skills

Rescued meerkats at Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia

About the Wildlife Sanctuary Project

The Wildlife Conservation and San Bushmen Community Project is renowned by conservationists worldwide and has received global awards. By joining this project  volunteers will have the opportunity to help to protect vulnerable wildlife or provide medical support to the San Bushmen community. Volunteers can choose between seven different projects during their stay in Namibia:

  • Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer Project
  • Carnivore Research Conservation Kanaan Desert
  • Carnivore and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Research Neuras Mountains
  • San Bushmen Medical Programme
  • Equine Experience
  • Wildlife Conservation Volunteering – Mangetti

Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer Project

Volunteering at the wildlife sanctuary will provide you with a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with African wildlife. The project provides refuge for orphaned and injured animals including baboons, caracals, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and lions.

Baboons at the Wildlife Sanctuary in NamibiaAs a volunteer you will be involved with caring for and feeding the animals as well as helping to maintain and develop the sanctuary (please note there is no hands-on contact with predators). During your time on the project a typical day will include preparing the animals food, cleaning and maintaining enclosures, feeding the animals, taking them on walks and providing intensive care for juvenile wildlife.

Volunteers will also be involved in physical labour such as building new facilities, animal interaction such as taking care of a baby baboon overnight and you will also spend time out in the surrounding environment to conduct game counts.

As a Wildlife Sanctuary volunteer you will also have the opportunity to visit the clever cubs schools. This amazing pre-school provides free education to the San Bushmen children who would otherwise not have access to education. The school provides a full curriculum as well as being a place for the children to dance, sing and play.

Cheetah conservation in Namibia fitted with tracking collar

Carnivore Conservation Kanaan Desert

The Carnivore Conservation Project in the Kanaan Desert aims to establish an unfenced wildlife reserve, creating a refuge for endangered species. The area covers 33,000 hectares of stunning desert scenery. During your stay you will get hands on experience with a variety of skills such as mapping using a GPS, capture mark release (using GPS tracking collars), radio telemetry tracking, game counts, camera trapping and maintenance and security. Volunteers will also have the chance to experience some of the must do activities in the Namib Desert such as night drives, sleep outs and waterhole observations.  Volunteers conduct research on the carnivores on the area, which include leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena as well as other desert-adapted animals.

Telemetry tracking in Kanaan Desert for carnivores

Carnivore and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Research Neuras Mountains

Located in the majestic Naukluft Mountain range and the Tsauchab river system these environments along with springs provide specialised ecosystems and contain highly adapted wildlife that the Neuras team strives to  protect and study. As well as protecting wildlife Neuras also produces wine on site and volunteers can assist with harvesting, bottling, and labelling, all of which are done by hand. This novel approach helps to sustain the conservation project.

Volunteers will help the team record wildlife information from game counts, wildlife cameras, site exploration, and carnivore GPS data as well as helping with specific research on Black-backed Jackals and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. Research will also include searching for leopard scat for which to carry out a dietary analysis on, but the primary focus of the discussion and camera trapping work will be centred on Black-backed Jackals and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. Information recorded by volunteers will contribute to the management of the estate. Volunteers will also get the opportunity to attend a day trip to the iconic red Sossusvlei Dunes. A stunning landscape in Namibia, the dunes are an absolute must see.

Medical volunteering in Namibia

San Bushmen Medical Programme

As a volunteer on the San Bushmen Medical Programme you will help provide primary healthcare to the local community and surrounding area in which around 500 San and Herero people live. Around 80% of the patients treated are San. The San are considered to be the oldest culture in the world and currently live in extreme poverty. Often suffering from malnutrition, disease, discrimination and abuse the San Bushmen Programme is providing a lifeline to this community through healthcare and education. Daily duties for volunteers may include:

  • Primary healthcare: observations, reassurance, treatments and emergency referrals.
  • Observations: pregnancy tests and urine tests
  • Weighing babies and recording growth charts
  • Blood pressure recordings
  • Volunteer doing medical work in NamibiaGlucose testing and recording
  • Wound dressings
  • Help in the pharmacy: stock control and new orders
  • Family planning
  • Substance abuse counselling
  • Data capture input
  • Assisting with community visits
  • General maintenance and cleaning

If volunteers have specific skills they feel the programme could benefit from they are always encouraged to use them and suggest new activities.  Medical volunteers usually join for 2 or 4 weeks – as they run on a 12 night schedule (for the transfers).

Equine volunteer programme in Namibia

Equine Experience in Namibia

The equine experience is available for a minimum of two weeks and is suitable for experienced riders. Volunteers will stay at the wildlife sanctuary and spend their time here with the on-site horses. Mornings will be spent helping with cleaning and feeding, training young and new horses, as well as taming and raising foals. Training will involve the use of Natural Horsemanship and Parelli tactics. These training strategies involve playful work from the ground as well as longer training rides in the bush with the more experienced horses.

From time to time we also have foals, which will need halter training and introduction to human contact. Afternoons will be spent feeding the horses and riding, trotting and galloping in the veldt on the sanctuary’s reserve. Other activities may include herding and helping with fixing and building structures around the horse’s camps.

Elephant capture in Namibia

Wildlife Conservation Volunteering – Mangetti

The impact of human activities on native wildlife has never been more apparent for two of Africa’s iconic species; the African Painted Dog (or wild dog) and the African Elephant both of which have endured decades of suffering through habitat fragmentation, hunting and persecution. In a bid to alter this state of affairs, researchers have been working in the Mangetti Complex, northern Namibia, in an effort to understand better the levels, and causes, of conflict between these two species and the local population. Volunteers will assist our researchers in documenting the movements and activities of elephant and wild dog. Using GPS and VHF monitoring technology, motion-sensitive trail cameras and traditional spoor (footprint) tracking techniques, come and delve into the lives of the world’s largest land animal and one of Africa’s most endangered carnivore species.  Volunteers can join this programme from Wednesdays to Wednesdays.

African painted dog eating carcass in NamibiaActivities at the Mangetti:

  • Camera trapping
  • GPS monitoring
  • VHF telemetry tracking
  • Spoor (footprint) tracking
  • Conflict assessment
  • Outreach

Combined Volunteer Projects

Volunteer feeding baby animal at Wildlife Sanctuary in NamibiaVolunteers have the opportunity to combine projects – so for example, a San Bushmen Medical Volunteer may choose to spend 3 weeks at the Clinic and 1 week at the Sanctuary. Alternatively, a Wildlife Sanctuary volunteer may choose to spend half their time at the sanctuary and half their time at one of our research sites. Thus there are many possibilities for combining and rotating amongst the different projects on our programme. Many of our Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers choose to spend most of their time at the sanctuary but then do one week of research to see another part of Namibia and do something totally different. Then there are some Carnivore Conservation Research volunteers who choose to focus solely on the research at one or both of our sites. Medical volunteers may also partake in our animal projects. Transfers to our research sites occur Saturday – Saturday and the clinic transfers occur on Sundays (to and from the clinic), thus volunteers often stay a few nights at the sanctuary depending on their arrival, or they may choose to plan their flights so they arrive on the day before the transfer to their given project. With regards to numbers of volunteers present, currently our research site at Kanaan takes 6 volunteers, Neuras takes 12, Mangetti takes 8, the Clinic takes 4 and the sanctuary can accommodate maximum 44 volunteers.

Leopard conservation in Namibia

Specific Projects and Courses

We also offer specific courses for those wishing to delve deeper into their field.  We are offering a Veterinarian Course for vet students which will be led by our permanent on site Veterinarian and which will provide an opportunity for vet or pre-vet students to gain real hands-on practical vet experience. We are also offering a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Captive Care course where participants will have the privilege of working with three of our core wildlife staff, including founder and director Marlice van Vuuren, a world-renowned conservationist whose background will provide participants with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Mornings will be spent learning about theory and afternoons will be spent doing practical work. For more information on dates and costs, please email:  victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com

Family Volunteering

We are able to accept families on this programme at all the sites with children above 7 years of age.  Please just be aware that for some activities where children are too small/young, they may not be able to participate, but we will still ensure that they benefit from the full volunteer experience.  Families will be provided with their own room/tented camp. For specific questions on family volunteer options, please email: victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com

Learning traditional fire lighting by San Bushmen in Namibia

Volunteer Free Time

Whilst not working on the projects there is plenty for volunteers to see and do. For those volunteering on the San Bushmen Medical Programme free time can be spent visiting the local San Bushmen village to learn about the community and play football with the local children. At Neuras volunteers can enjoy sundowners and a braai, swimming in nearby water pools and nature walks, or do a day tour to the incredible Sossusvlei sand dunes.

Volunteers at the Wildlife Sanctuary can spend their free time swimming in the pool, playing football or paintball and enjoying nature walks in the local area as well as the traditional sundowners and a braai and volunteers at Kanaan can spend time exploring the Namib Desert, sandboarding or sleeping out under a blanket of stars. You may also have the chance to visit Windhoek for the day or stay overnight at a luxury lodge.

Sand boarding in Kanaan in NamibiaThe full Volunteer Programme is in effect Monday to Saturday, with an activity in the afternoon. Sundays are more of a rest day when you may have the opportunity to go into town, but you will still be expected to help with food preparation and feeding animals.  Please be aware that if you arrive over a weekend, you may not experience the full programme of volunteer activities until Monday.

“Volunteers are the backbone of this project. From taking care of a myriad of rescued wildlife species, to improving the quality of life of the marginalised San community, and contributing to riveting, first-hand conservation research – we simply could not achieve what we do without their enthusiastic involvement and unfaltering support. Embark on an inspiring and life-changing journey with us!” – quote from the Project Manager

Wildlife Conservation & San Bushmen Community Project, Namibia

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