Working with Elephants in Namibia

Senior Caring for our Environment

Third Year Ollie spent a memorable summer volunteering for the Elephant Human Relations Aid (EHRA) charity in Namibia, as part of his gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award, and continues to fundraise for them.

Here, Ollie tells us, in his own words, of his experiences:

After emerging from the covid pandemic, the summer of 2022 is one that I will always remember.

My family was introduced to an organisation called Pod Volunteer who provide amazing volunteering holidays. EHRA are a charity who aim to reduce conflict between local people and the herds of wild elephants that they live alongside. We saw in the family section there was a volunteer holiday with EHRA (Elephant Human Relations Aid) in Namibia. So in August 2022, my family and I journeyed on an adventure.

The start of our trip was a four-hour bumpy journey into the wild desert of Namibia, heading north to Damaraland - a beautiful unspoilt rural area where wildlife roam freely and the people live simply.

We set up camp next to the dry riverbed and were given instructions on how to behave if we encountered elephants and also to beware of the 3 S's (snakes, scorpions and spiders!). 

Sleeping under the stars.

I slept under the stars every night, which I absolutely loved.

For the first four days, We went to the local primary school where around 300 children are taught, and we decorated 2 of their dormitories where children as young as seven years old board. It was really moving to see how simply the children lived with very little in the way of possessions; their only toys were ones they had made themselves using bits of recycled rubbish and yet, they had huge smiles and were so much fun to play football with! We learnt about the different languages and tribes in the area as well as how to track elephants.

The local flora and fauna which was so different to back home!

Tracking elephant dung.

After four brilliant days at the local school, the next part of our Journey was tracking one of the elephant herds. We packed all our camping gear into two open safari 4x4's and we headed into the desert. After an eventful morning, getting stuck in a muddy part of the river bed, we spent time spotting more and more elephant dung before suddenly coming across our first elephant herd. We stopped our vehicle and the elephants carried on with their feeding around us.

It was totally amazing to be surrounded by these wild gentle giants.

The male bull was called Benny, the matriarch was called Matilda and there was a six-month-old calf called Fiory who was so cute! Our wonderful guides Hendrick and Fabio knew the elephants well, as they regularly track them, so the elephants were very at ease. 

Finding a herd of elephants.

After four nights camping out in the wild desert listening to the sounds of elephants and lions, learning survival techniques such as 'never touch or lift anything without kicking it first', and seeing the most incredible southern hemisphere night sky with no light pollution, this had been such an insight into another world.

It has inspired me to go on more adventures and really get to know different places through volunteer work.

It was amazing to see the work that EHRA do, such as providing drinking water for the elephants and making sure the local people's water is protected from elephant damage, as well as educating local people and children in the safest way to behave around elephants (which, I now know, is to be very calm and quiet).

Making friends with the local community.

Since coming home, I've been running a cafe at a local football club to raise funds for my First Challenge trip to Croatia in 2023 and also for EHRA. I hope one day to visit EHRA again and maybe I might see some of the same elephants or grown-up school children.

Flickr album: Third Year Ollie's work with (EHRA) charity in Namibia | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


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Working with Elephants in Namibia