Volunteer – Noah’s Ark

EKOSINI

WHAT WILL BE EXPECTED OF ME?

As a volunteer at Noah’s Ark, you will primarily work with orphaned, injured, neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals and help to create a stable environment for the wildlife at the refuge. Along with caring for wildlife, you will help perform reserve maintenance, assist the local field guides and learn how to guide project tours.

Volunteer duties at Noah’s Ark include some of the following:

– Feeding cheetahs and baboons (twice a day)

– Feeding and meal preparation for other wildlife (4-5 times per day)

– Caring for, hand rearing and cleaning baby animals

– Night duty of infant animals (surrogate parenting in bed)

– Cleaning the enclosures

– Assisting with repair and building of structures on the farm

– Building wildlife camps

– Erecting fences around Noah’s Ark

– Assisting in the clinic with injured animals (qualified veterinary experience required)

– Training to assist as Field Guide for daily tours of Noah’s Ark

– Assisting at the local bushman clinic

Depending on the time of year and demand, there is a possibility that you may also be able to assist with the African Wild Dog Project. This would involve identifying individual wild dogs, looking at family patterns and recording their eating habits.

Noah’s Ark relies significantly on volunteers so that its important work can continue – you will provide much needed help in caring for the ever-increasing number of animals in the Centre.  Please remember that everything you do, however simple or mundane, helps the animals and the aims of the project.

Wildlife at Noah’s Ark

The animals that have found their way to Noah’s Ark can be divided into five categories:

Problem Animals – Many animals cause significant damage to the local farmers and their livelihood and as such pose a threat. Farmers thus resort to any means possible to rid themselves of these problems. Noah’s Ark works to give advice, collect caught animals and provide positive solutions to the continuous problems between farmers and the wild animals of Namibia.

Injured Animals – Animals caught in traps and other devices are usually hurt beyond normal recovery.  Noah’s Ark is therefore unable to rehabilitate the animals, but provides the necessary care to ensure they survive and live happily at the sanctuary.

Pets – The worst and most commonly found problems arise from people that try to domesticate wild animals and have them as house pets. This causes secondary problems like the deliberate killing of female animals to get to her young. Not being able to handle and understand these grown animals results in cruelty treatments when dealing with them. Noah’s Ark thus acts as a haven for these unwanted pets, rescuing them from their situations.

Orphaned Baby Animals – Having been killed by hunters, poachers or road accidents, grown wild animals leave orphans behind. The babies, sometimes as young as a day old, are presented to Noah’s Ark for round the clock care and attention. As adults these wild animals become “tame” and often enjoy the company of people and so are unable to live elsewhere.

Animals Born at Noah’s Ark – Animals on the project are treated with hormone implants to prevent pregnancies, but not all of them have been successful and as a result animals have been born on the farm.

Ongoing Research Projects

Noah’s Ark believes in life and takes its role very seriously in the conservation and protection of Namibian wildlife, land and people. Noah’s Ark does everything possible to avoid resettled animals from being used for hunting or commercial purposes. Presently, there are two on-going projects coordinated by Noah’s Ark:

– Wildlife Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Project

– African Wild Dog Project

Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Program – Noah’s Ark has been rehabilitating injured, orphaned and problem animals for the past 25 years and has, in this period, developed a perfect infrastructure for rehabilitation. The project rehabilitates animals to their natural health, setting an international standard for wildlife rehabilitation and care. Noah’s Ark then releases those animals into reserves, continuing to monitor and manage the released animals in the reserve.  The project is always seeking more release sites for fully rehabilitated animals.

African Wild Dog Project – The African Wild Dog is one of the most endangered predators in Africa. Wild Dog populations have declined to such an extent in the past 30 years that there are small populations left in only 14 countries where they were previously present in 39. Only six of these countries have populations of more than 100. The project recognizes the fact that the African Wild Dog is one of Namibia’s most valuable assets and intends releasing some of its current captive-held dogs into a proposed 10,000 hectare reserve.

HOW LONG CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR?

1 week and up. Most volunteers stay for 2-4 weeks, but longer is possible.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS, IF ANY, DO I REQUIRE?

Training will be provided by staff at the project. A full introduction covering all aspects of working at this project is given to volunteers upon arrival. Volunteers are then allocated a supervisor, who will oversee the volunteers’ daily work. A manual is given to each volunteer which will include details of responsibilities, policies and procedures of the farm,  the organizational structure, code of conduct and clear guidelines of all aspects of working practices.

Noah’s Ark is only accepting volunteers of 18-40 years.  If you are over 40 years and had your heart set on a hands-on experience with wildlife, we would highly recommend the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Baboon Sanctuary or Vervet Monkey Sanctuary.

The Namibian Department of Home Affairs requires work visas for all volunteers of all nationalities joining the Noah’s Ark program.  Noah’s Ark has engaged a company in Windhoek to process all work visa applications and the application fee will be USD$99.  Please submit your visa application with passport copy and document of independence 6 weeks before arrival.  Unless you have a work visa in hand, you must never mention that you are volunteering at Noah’s Ark – you may be denied entry as this can be misconstrued by Immigration at working in the country.

WHAT LANGUAGE WILL I NEED TO KNOW?

English

HOW DO I GET TO YOUR LOCATION?

Noah’s Ark accepts volunteers all year round.  The program starts on Friday mornings and ends on Thursday afternoons. The staff provide transfers from Windhoek to Noah’s Ark at 9:00am on Friday mornings for transfer to Noah’s Ark before lunch, therefore volunteers must fly into Windhoek the day before their program start date and overnight at either Chameleon Backpackers (www.chameleonbackpackers.com) or Cardboard Box Backpackers (www.cardboardbox.com.na).  These backpackers can arrange “meet and greet” pickups at the Windhoek Airport. The staff return volunteers to Windhoek on Thursday afternoons after 2:00pm.

The closest city to Noah’s Ark is WINDHOEK.  Flights are available from Europe to Windhoek as well as from Johannesburg/Cape Town to Windhoek.  Great fares from Jo’Burg to Windhoek can be found at www.kulula.com.

ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED TO VOLUNTEER?

Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with NOAH’S ARK.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND FACILITIES CAN I EXPECT TO BE AVAILABLE TO ME?

Your accommodation will be in the volunteer village – a clustering of raised wooden cabins looking out onto a big waterhole.  Each cabin sleeps four volunteers and is occupied on a same sex basis. The cabins have only two wooden sides.  The other two sides are completely laid out with mosquito netting, and the outside is covered by canvas which can be rolled up and down.  This provides a comfortable and cool area.  Rooms are fitted with individual storage areas for personal effects and single beds with bedding and towels provided.  The bathroom facilities are shared, with hot water and flush toilets.

There is a separate kitchen and dining area, and three meals a day are provided.  Volunteers will prepare their own breakfasts (cereal, tea, coffee, toast, fruit, yoghurt), but the other meals will often be prepared by the Lodge.  Please note that you may be asked to assist with making sandwiches at lunchtime. Vegetarians can be catered to if the staff is notified before arrival.

WHAT WILDLIFE SPECIES ARE THERE?

Lion, Leopard, Wild Dog, Crocodile, Cheetahs, Baboon. It is hard to name a Top 5 because all animals are considered equal at the centre. Meerkats, owls, mongoose, tortoise, horses, pigs, bush pigs, birds, cheetah are also seen often.

WHAT ATTRACTIONS CAN I EXPERIENCE DURING FREE-TIME?

Noah’s Ark is based in a remote area of Namibia (1½ hours drive from the nearest town) and therefore volunteers will only be able to go into town on rare occasions. Communications can be erratic and unreliable, most particularly email.  There is mobile reception in parts of the reserve and you will have access to phone and fax.  Volunteers must pay the local rate per minute for phone usage.

Noah’s Ark is an ever-changing environment and power failures, water shortages, temperature fluctuations and other uncontrollable situations do occur. Volunteers need to remain flexible, understanding and in good humour/spirits about constant changes. “Africa time” can be very frustrating for those who are used to a more structured way of life. You must be tolerant and patient as things may not happen when you want or when it was scheduled.

It is very important when you come to Noah’s Ark that you leave any “romantic” ideas of life in the bush behind you.  If you have seen a documentary about the wonderful work, the animals, the landscape and the family, it is easy to overlook the less glamorous side of the project.  Working at Noah’s Ark is dirty and dusty.  If you are working with the animals, you are required to prepare their food. This will mean cutting and handling fresh meat, etc.  This may not be for the squeamish!  Also, please remember that certain wildlife that you may not enjoy live at the Centre, including snakes, beetles, moths and other “creepy-crawlies”.  We do appreciate this can be a very real difficulty for people and only you can decide whether it may spoil the enjoyment of your trip or not.

Volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working in close contact with wild animals.

IN CONCLUSION

Noah’s Ark gives volunteers the opportunity to care for and handle African wildlife in the beautiful desertland of Namibia.  The project is located 250 kilometres east of Windhoek (close to Botswana border) in the remote and stunning Omaheke Region which covers 4.9 million hectares of farming land.  Over the past 30 years, the family-run Noah’s Ark has been involved in the care, rehabilitation and housing of orphaned, injured, neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals, including lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, meerkat, baboon, many antelope species, etc.

Wildlife are often considered “problem animals” in Namibia due to the significant damage that they cause to livestock and agriculture and local farmers often resort to shooting and trapping to eliminate the problem.  Noah’s Ark works to educate local farmers, provide positive solutions to the continuous problems between farmers and wild animals, and give sanctuary to threatened wildlife.  Additionally, Noah’s Ark has established a strong, trusting relationship with the local bushmen in the surrounding areas (including the ability to speak their native language) and uses this unique understanding of their ways and needs to help promote conservation goals.

The project offers the chance to get some real hands-on experience helping many different species of Namibia’s wildlife. Noah’s Ark operates a policy of never turning an animal away so if you want to give ‘something back’ during your stay in Namibia, this is an ideal project with which to get involved.  Not a week passes without a new occupant arriving, meaning you will have many opportunities for hands-on work with animals!

For more information on ENKOSINI ECO EXPERIENCE, please visit www.enkosini.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘