At N/a’an ku sê in Namibia volunteers have the rare and exciting opportunity to actively participate in the conservation, rehabilitation, care and research of African wildlife. N/a’an ku sê Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary has grown into a world-famous conservation organisation. It provides a safe haven and second chance for countless injured, orphaned and conflict animals. Whenever possible the goal is to release animals back into the wild - only those animals too ill, abused or habituated remain at the sanctuary.
Wildlife Conservation Volunteers are crucial in helping to care for the animals in rehabilitation or permanent captivity at the sanctuary, as well as helping to maintain and develop the sanctuary. This is an exceptional opportunity to get hands-on experience with African wildlife and the many aspects of their care. Activities at the sanctuary are carried out in a rotational group system to ensure that everybody gets exposed to the variety of experiences available.
Possible tasks as a volunteer on the Sanctuary include:
Food Preparation and Enclosure Cleaning
A vital part of the day-to-day running of the sanctuary involves preparing food for, and feeding, the animals, as well as cleaning and maintaining the animals’ enclosures and housing. This can be a very messy but satisfying part of your day, as you’re ensuring the nutritional needs of each animal are met while also checking up on their health and happiness while cleaning their enclosures. You’ll be handling fruits, vegetables, meats and corn-based meal among other things, to help prepare the meals needed for all of the animals, including baboons and cheetahs. To prevent cross-contamination of disease, rubber gloves are required for all handling of animal food.
The time spent feeding the carnivores will be a very important, and always enjoyable, part of your day. During this activity you will get to see and possibly assist in the feeding of the cheetahs, wild dogs, lions and leopards. This coordinator-led activity is also the best time for you to take pictures of the amazing animals. You will also learn about the animals’ backgrounds, interesting facts and the reason why the animals are at the sanctuary, including the difficulties faced in trying to manage the human-wildlife conflict.
You will have the privilege to be able to take some of the juvenile baboons from the sanctuary out for enrichment walks and provide them with the opportunity to forage, explore the veldt and splash around in the local waterholes. The baboon walks are primarily for their enrichment as well as an opportunity for volunteers to learn more about, and bond with, these amazing primates. Taking the baboons for walks gives them the opportunity to forage and diversify their diet, stretch their legs and climb anything and everything in sight, including you. You may also get the chance to interact hands-on with certain animals at the sanctuary depending on the needs and types of animals at the time of your arrival. Sometimes our youngest animals need to be “babysat” and provided with extra attention while other animals require quiet observation and company. With orphaned and injured animals arriving throughout the year, you never know who may be in need of some extra tender loving care!
Intensive Juvenile Care & Baboon Sleepovers
N/a’an ku sê is home to many orphaned animals, including baboons, which up to a certain age, need extra care overnight. The purpose of this interaction is to simulate the role that their mother would play in the wild. When sleeping overnight with a baboon, you will be responsible for bathing them, feeding them and taking them to bed with you so they have someone to cuddle with at night and don’t feel scared. Although a highlight of many people’s stay at N/a’an ku sê, and a crucial part of the project, at times there are no babies coming out at night - meaning there are more babies staying out in the wild with their mothers where they belong! Staff members are always there to help you with questions, and you will have a baboon induction to show you the ropes before you take your first baboon. Due to the responsibility involved, this activity is for volunteers who will be at N/a’an ku sê for longer than 4 weeks. It is not mandatory to be involved in the baboon sleepovers, but we do encourage you to try the experience as many people leave with baboons firmly in their heart. Other orphaned baby animals may also need intensive care such as bottle feeding, observation and interaction.
Day 1 – The start of your adventure
Arrive at Windhoek Airport where you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred to the project site 45 minutes away. On arrival you will settle into your accommodation and get to know other participants.
Day 2 - 14 – Fun days at the project
Volunteers are split into working groups which rotate daily to ensure variety when carrying out duties. This is also to ensure that every volunteer has the opportunity to discover all the exciting aspects of the project.
Day 15 - Final Day
The final day, or goodbye day, where you will be transferred to Windhoek International Airport for your flight back home, or your onward journey.
Weekends at the sanctuary tend to involve a Saturday activity that can vary from a nature walk through the sanctuary, volleyball in the river or challenges and quizzes. Saturday evenings involve a braai (BBQ) and time to socialize and relax together. As an extra, you may wish to join the Sunday trip to Windhoek or have a beautiful buffet lunch at the luxury Lodge, depending on availability. Please take note that over the weekend (Saturdays and Sundays), the animals still need to get their food and your cooperation is highly appreciated in finishing these tasks.
N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary is located just 45km from Windhoek (Namibia’s capital) and 35km from Windhoeks International Airport, in the Khomas region of Namibia. You will need to be at the Windhoek International Airport (which is also known as Hosea Kutako International Airport) on your project start day before 5pm. You will be met here by one of the project staff and transferred to the sanctuary 45min away.
There are daily flights from the Cape Town and Johannesburg International Airports into and out of Namibia.
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