Desert Elephant Conservation Volunteer Project
Join an award winning volunteering project tracking desert elephants and working on a community construction program in Damaraland. Through the Desert Elephant project, volunteers can experience hands-on conservation and have a direct impact on fostering a peaceful relationship between elephants and humans, thereby securing their existence.
The Desert Elephant project collaborates closely with local communities, engaging in on-the-ground conservation by constructing protective walls. These walls strike a balance: they facilitate water access for Namibia’s desert elephants, while averting potential damage to windmills, water storage facilities, and pumps. Given the recurring droughts that have left the region parched, desert elephants often find themselves in competition with both humans and other animals for water resources, emphasizing the critical need for sustainable solutions.
These remarkable desert elephants, renowned for their daily consumption of up to 160 liters of water, traverse great distances guided by their exceptional sense of smell. When desperation sets in, they might resort to actions such as damaging water pipes or piercing water tanks with their tusks, inadvertently disrupting local water supplies. The solution lies in the protective walls, an immediate response that encourages harmonious coexistence by enabling humans, livestock, and elephants to share water points. With a history of constructing over 220 protective walls since 2003, involving the dedication of more than 3,500 volunteers, the project seeks ongoing support to extend its transformative efforts.
Expect to get sweaty, learn about conservation, make new friends, sleep under the stars and enjoy the natural surroundings. At the Desert Elephant base camp everyone sleeps in a large tree on a wooden platform! There are also showers and long-drop toilets here.
You will leave base camp and be camping in the African wilderness for the duration of your time on each project. There are no washing facilities on either build or patrol weeks but you can enjoy a shower at the EHRA base camp when we return for the weekend in between the two weeks. Occasionally, if there is enough water available at the build site, we may set up a basic shower at the build project camp. Tents are provided this week and soon you will make the camp home!
All cooking is done over the fire and you work in pairs taking it in turn to be on kitchen duty, which includes providing the first cup of coffee to everyone in bed, to breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have great recipes and we can also cater for vegans and vegetarians. Please let us know if you have any particular dietary requirements including food sensitivities. We can accommodate varying needs including gluten or lactose intolerance.
Prices include return transfers from Swakopmund to the Desert Elephant Base Camp, and all accommodation, food and camping equipment during the Volunteer Project.
Flights, insurance, airport transfers along with food and accommodation while you are in Swakopmund are all excluded from this price, but we can advise you on getting the best deals.