Life as a volunteer At the Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary – www.bluelizardadventures.com
A story from a volunteer about their first week as a volunteer!
|Baboon. Volunteer and Travel Africa|
Today is Monday, the first day of my volunteering experience at the Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary. We have been told to meet in the food prep area at 8am. After I get to food prep some of the volunteers are already there, and as I look across the big table (where we prepare the food, a big stone thing that looks quite cool) I see the staff waiting there, ready to brief everyone on today’s activities.
There are three different groups, and each group has a set of activities to do that day, so in the end you rotate the activities so your group does everything at least once in a week.
Today I was on food prep, food prep is obviously the preparation of all the food for all the animals, it’s a fun experience, chopping, mixing and feeding, it takes a couple of hours but it is a laugh, and its good to see the animals are getting proper food and all their nutrients. After food prep is done then it’s time for cleaning, this is done daily after food prep as there is a lot of dirty buckets and the table where we prepare the food needs a good wash down.
After food prep is done its time for muffin break, this is 10.30 until 11.00 where we can have a muffin and a cup of tea/coffee. As I sit drinking my tea a meerkat runs under my feet, a baboon runs across the table and I feel I have a smile on my face; this is what I’ve always wanted to do.
11.00am comes round and its time to feed the carnivores, this includes lions, leopards, cheetah, wild dogs and caracals. Feeding these animals was truly amazing, the power there jaws have is incredible. We feed them a range of meats, from game to donkey, sometimes even the organs. After we get back from a feed its time to wash the buckets we use and then its time for lunch which is 13:00-14:30.
|Carnivore feeding time. Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary, Africa|
Lunch is different every day and can range from sandwiches to wraps to scrambled egg!
14:30 and its time to start work again, we have a quick meeting in food prep area and then it’s on to do our afternoon activities, my group carries on with food prep for the afternoon feeding and then we have a baby baboon walk.
The baby baboon walk consists of the youngest troop (of which there are 7 embers) ranging from 3 month old baboons to 2 year old baboons. there very curious and intelligent and can be quite scary, but I remained calm and I think they can sense this so they was also calm with me, the walk is quite something else, as you walk they sit on you shoulder, and then we come to a tree that looks decent enough to climb, then we all sit down and they climb the tree. It’s good to see those showing natural behaviours like foraging, climbing and wrestling with each other, once the excitement has settled then sometimes the baboons will groom a person; it is quite exciting to see and be accepted into their troop as one of them.
After baboon walk is over then its time to come back and that’s the day over. I only hope tomorrow can bring the same excitement!
|Monkey shoulder, Volunteer with baby baboon, Namibia|
Today is Tuesday and the activists I do today are enclosure patrol, enclosure cleaning and research.
This time I am on enclosure patrol, where we walk around the enclosures and check the electric fences. This activity is done everyday of the year and is paramount for the safety of both the animals and the volunteers and everyone who works on the farm, it is a fun activity to do as it gets you moving about and walking around the sanctuary. You also have the chance to see many of the wild antelopes roaming around, I counted myself lucky today as I saw the giraffe and her calf.
These two hours are spent enclosure cleaning, we have a checklist to do and we set about doing it. The cleaning involves changing the animals water, making sure they have fresh bedding and also that the poo and old scraps of food is cleaned up so they have better living conditions.
This is research time where we spend the afternoon doing scientific studies. There are a number of different things we do and today we do a game count. This is where we drive around a set route on the far and see how much game is about. I enjoyed today as I seen a herd of zebra with a baby.
Today is my third day and my last rotation before doing food prep again tomorrow. So my first activity this morning is a caracal walk! This is where we take 2 of the resident caracals out for a walk (no lead, they follow us). This was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry, to see these cats hunting birds, climbing trees and letting us be there was a truly incredible experience.
|Caracal Walk, Volunteer Africa|
After a short muffin break it was back to the second activity of the day, now it was time for a junior baboon walk! These guys were much bigger then the younger ones, and a lot stronger too. The walk was a lot different to the babies, the juniors seemed more independent and acted like proper baboons. When they sat on you they were a lot heavier and there bums were a lot harder. A staff member and a bushman go with you on the walk and the baboons have a lot of respect or them. The 2 hours flew by and the walk was over before I knew it, which was a shame as it is one of my favourite activities.
|Baboon Walk, Volunteer Africa|
After lunch it was time for the project work, this is where we do different odd jobs around the far, and today was debushing, we needed a saw, poison, gloves and machetes, it was very hard work, but necessary, and after our 3 hours of debushing was complete, it felt very satisfying we did a hard afternoons work.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday was the same as Monday Tuesday Wednesday, apart from Saturday we finished at a half day and we then did an activity in the afternoon, this Saturdays activity was a eco challenge, this is where you get dropped off at a certain point in the farm and you have to navigate your way back with your group, along the way though you need to take pictures of different hoof prints and collect samples of different bushes and correctly identify them. This is a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna and was a fun afternoon trekking through the African bush.
Sunday is our day off; the only thing we have to do is food prep and the feeding of the animals. If you want you have a chance to go into Windhoek, this time round the town trip was full so I stayed behind, and it was nice to relax and chill and catch up with everyone else. I couldn’t wait for it to be Monday again so I could get back into work.
|Giraffes Drinking , Volunteer Namibia|