Volunteer as a big cat conservationist in the stunning Kanaan Region of Namibia, where your help will ensure the carnivores habitat and all other animals that call it home, are safe for years to come.
You will make a positive impact every day, surrounded by a team of passionate, like-minded people, who are all striving to make a difference in Namibia. Your time will be focused on researching the free-roaming populations of carnivores to support the important role in mitigating human-wildlife conflict.
The unique location of Kanaan, offers serene surroundings in the heart of Namibia – a true desert gemstone. With endless red sand dunes, imposing mountains, vast grass plains and crystal clear night skies you will discover all of what this beautiful 33,000-hectare estate has to offer.
Rehabilitate the land, environment and ecosystems for uninhibited movements of local fauna, including; cheetah, brown hyena, spotted hyena, leopard, springbok, oryx, ostrich, kudu, bat-eared foxes and many other desert-adapted animals.
Our aim is to find a balance between the needs of Namibia’s human inhabitants and its spectacular wildlife. Home to a wide variety of large carnivores, has resulted in Namibia being the centre of the battle to ensure these beautiful animals are around for the future generations.
Previously utilised as a film, photography and holiday destination, the plan here is to establish an unfenced wildlife reserve in order to provide a refuge or safe haven for an extensive array of endangered species.
Kanaan encompasses 352km2 of desert scenery in which volunteers will get involved in vital research and conservation. During your stay, you will be able to help record statistical data of the wildlife species, ultimately contributing to the long-term management of the area. Explore the mountains as you search for caves and hyena movements, marvel at the vast expanse of open grasslands as you help further wildlife population numbers.
Carnivore numbers are starting to fall and several different species are becoming endangered – something we as a whole have to address. The large majority of these wild animals live outside of the protected conservation areas, which often results in them being killed by farmers who view them as a threat to their livestock.
The vital research that is gathered at Kanaan, will help with strategies and conservation techniques that can be put into place to stop wildlife populations declining. You, along with other research volunteers may be involved with mapping the terrain, assisting with capture and releases, tracking, game counts (on foot, in vehicles and even on horse back), camera traps placement and analysis, maintenance and security on the reserve as well as night drives and sleep outs.
The tranquil seclusion and peacefulness of nature that the desert solitude provides allows you to get away from it all. Your day starts with the waking silence of the desert with the odd roar of a lion and ends with newfound friends sitting around an open fire, watching the breath-taking sunset behind the dunes and mountains.
You will join the researchers and use a GPS unit to map anything important, from wildlife observations to habitat features. You will also have to note infrastructures, such as roads, water holes and fences. Once collected, the positional information will continually be processed into up-to-date reserve maps, which are used by management and for publication of scientific results. Mapping means quality time in this fantastic environment on foot, where encounters with different wildlife are almost guaranteed!
Capture Mark Release
To understand how wildlife utilise the reserve and how they interact in a challenging and demanding environment, requires indirect monitoring techniques such as GPS satellite tracking. The volunteers will help researchers identify areas of regular carnivore activity such as dens, riverbeds and marked trees etc… You will place cage traps (for cheetahs only) and when a species of interest are captured, the animals will be immobilised on-site and fitted with suitable GPS trackers for continued monitoring. After release, the work continues at the computer following the satellite information from study animals and putting them in a scientific context. Please note this activity is dependent on carnivore species present and the availability of camera’s and equipment.
Radio Telemetry Tracking
Collaring animals with GPS trackers is only one piece of the puzzle. Direct observations are often necessary and is done by telemetry tracking out in the field. This will give you the chance to explore this beautiful terrain to track collared individuals and to make direct assessments on their health and location. This will involve long days in hot terrain with a certain amount of walking. However, the rewards of finding wildlife in the desert and collecting meaningful information at the same time are unrivalled.
The herbivores that roam these vast desert lands are an integral part of the African ecosystem. You will participate in regular game counts on either horseback or car to assist with the overall monitoring efforts. It is critical to understand the local populations dynamics and migrations to ensure there is sufficient water supply as well enough vegetation. The data collected will also be used to answer some questions such as, how do wildlife utilise this semi-arid landscape on a seasonal basis and how does this correlate with predator populations?
You will assist with setting up and monitoring camera traps that are placed in strategic positions around the region. These additional eyes often observe species of wildlife that are sometimes overlooked and helps research teams determine which animals are present and where they are most active. The cameras are non-invasive and sometimes record interesting behavioural data that we would otherwise have no access to. Volunteers will help setup cameras in the field (water points, cheetah marking trees, caves etc.), maintain them (refresh batteries and memory cards) but also go through the abundance of images to assess and structure the data recorded.
Hiking and Exploring
You will have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of hiking to explore this stunning area where you will get to learn about the native fauna and flora as a group.
Kanaan is home to two rescued cheetahs from the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary who are now the lucky residents of a 7 hectare enclosure on the red sand dunes. Volunteers will be involved in the food preparation, feeding and caring of these cheetahs, as well as enclosure cleanings on a regular basis. Caring for these two cheetahs has become a vital aspect of the program and seeing them up close is a truly inspiring opportunity that is not to be missed.
Maintenance and Security
Work on site does not end with science and research though. For the ecosystem to function adequately, several maintenance activities are compulsory, especially in very dry areas like Kanaan. It is important to conduct regular anti-poaching patrols and help with other security efforts as well as getting your hands dirty with other activities like fence removal and water hole maintenance.
Sunsets and Camp Outs
One of the must-do activities in the Namib Desert is the sun-downer. Enjoy the tranquillity and breath-taking scenery of the Namib when the sunsets and paints the desert in unimaginable colours. We will also be conducting night drives or sleep-outs as part of our security protocol, but also to observe some of the nocturnal desert wildlife. While your here, make sure you sit back and let your mind wander away from the buzz of civilisation – Kanaan is the ideal place for relaxation. The Namib night sky with its ever-prominent Milky Way is another highlight not to be missed.
During your time at our research site, you will be staying in the beautifully renovated farmhouse with shared rooms and a bathroom.
After a hard days work, there is no better place for everyone to come together and talk about their day and share stories than outside around the large fire pit. Relax and unwind as you watch the sunset behind the mountains and sand dunes and then stare up to the clear night sky with the stars shinning so brightly!
Inside is just as nice, with a large communal sitting and dining area, with beautiful dark wooden floors and stylish furnishings.
There is limited mobile phone signal and no internet, so this really is your chance to escape and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the Namibian desert offers.
Every other day the small kiosk shop will open at lunchtime that sells beverages, snacks and alcoholic drinks. You can make use of the communal fridge to keep everything nice and cold.
You will have the opportunity to upgrade your accommodation to one of the luxury chalets for an additional $35 per person per night if you so wish.
Wifi – No
People per room – Up to 4
Single sex rooms – Yes
You will receive 3 meals per day, which are all served within the volunteer accommodation or packed and taken out into the field. The menu rotates on a 3 week basis and there is a lot of meat served (usually for both lunch and dinner) which is more than most meat eaters are used to (so a few volunteers often end up to swapping to the vegetarian option).
You can expect some of the following:
Breakfast – Cereal, toast, coffee, tea, sometimes eggs, bacon and muffins
Lunch & Dinner – Pizza, quiches, wraps, stews, pasta, rice, curries
With notice we can cater for all dietary requirements:
- Gluten Free
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers from any background, religion and nationality, as long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 18 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it dose not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive at Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek (WDH) on the day before your selected start date, being any Thursday. You will be met by one of our local team members or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign and who will then take you to the Wildlife Sanctuary – around a 45 minute drive.
The programme ends on a Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day. Our local team will take you back to the airport.
Are there any age restrictions for solo travellers?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 18 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive and we regularly have volunteers of all ages.
What is the minimum age for travelling with my family?
If you are travelling with family and at least one member is aged 18 years old or over, then we welcome anyone from 12 years and up.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise that you apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates. Some of our programmes have limited capacity and spaces can get filled up quickly.
If you are wanting to volunteer within the next few weeks, then please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
It is possible to change your start dates once you have been accepted, however this is subject to availability and can attract a small administration fee.
What duration would you recommend?
On gaining feedback from previous volunteers, we believe 3 – 6 weeks is the ideal time to get settled in and really involved with the programme. This also allows you to make the most of your free time, to explore this beautiful country and to participate in any activities.
We regularly have volunteers come for 2 weeks that tell us that they did not believe they had enough time and wish they had stayed for longer.
What will my itinerary be?
Please make sure you arrive into Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek (WDH) on Thursday.
Day 1 (Thursday) – Arrival
A member of our local team will be waiting for you in arrivals holding a named sign. You will be taken straight to the wildlife sanctuary (around a 45 minute drive) where you will have the rest of the day to meet everyone else and settle in.
Day 2 (Friday) – Orientation
After a good nights rest and some breakfast, it is then time for your orientation. Our local team will go through all of the important health and safety information as well as give an overview of what you will be doing.
Day 3 (Saturday) – Travelling To Kanaan
During the morning you will start your journey to the Kanaan research site, approximately 7 hours away. This is an experience in itself as you travel through the desert and start to witness some breath-taking views!
After around 4 hours you will stop at the Neuras Research site for some lunch and a small break. You will then continue your trip and reach Kanaan around 3 hours later where the rest of the evening will be for you to relax and meet everyone else.
Most of your time will be out in the field conducting research and other important tasks. A typical day starts at 8am and finishes around 5pm. You will find that time flies by, so it’s important to make the most of your time! Don’t forget, our local team are there to support you and to answer any questions you may have.
Weekends are a little more relaxed, but there are still a few activities and tasks that need to be completed. You will get slightly more free time over the weekend for you to enjoy around the accommodation and other fun group activities will be arranged.
Last days (Saturday & Sunday)
You will leave early morning to return back to the wildlife sanctuary on your last Saturday. It follows the same schedule as your arrival journey, stopping at Neruas for some lunch and reaching your destination late afternoon / evening. We recommend that volunteers book their return flights for Sunday and the return airport transfer is included.
How will I get to the project?
You will be staying within our volunteer accommodation in the middle of the desert and transported around the project site to carry out volunteering journeys by our local team in 4×4’s.
Is there Internet and phone signal?
There is no Internet or phone signal at our research site due to its remote location. This is your chance to escape everything where you can relax and truly get involved with the conservation project. In case of emergencies, there is a landline phone that can be used.
What is Kanaan like?
It is a once in a lifetime experience that you have to come and see for yourself to truly know what it’s like. 33,000 hectares of stunning desert scenery that features all of the iconic vistas that Namibia is world-famous for. Throw in some of the most spectacular wildlife and you have the perfect combination! You will get to explore the towering red sand dunes, imposing mountain ranges and vast grass plains and at the end of the day you can sit around the fire put looking up to the clear night sky in pure silence.
The Mighty Roar Local Team in Namibia
Our programmes in Namibia are run by a dedicated local team, who are committed to ensuring you have the best time ever. These team members provide the structure for your stay, including the accommodation, meals, airport pickup, in-country orientation and of course support.
They are sure to become your good friends and you will not meet nicer people that are willing to do everything in their power to make your stay the most memorable.
Will I get an in-country orientation?
Yes. Your orientation will be on Friday morning and will go through everything you need to know for your time at the research site and sanctuary. All of the important health and safety information will be shared with you along with an overview of what you will be doing.
What is the weather like in Namibia?
In the desert, the winter and summer seasons follow a similar pattern to the rest of the Namibia, but little rainfall can be expected. Temperatures may rise above 40°C in summer months (October to April), with rare occasions of it even reaching up to 50°C. In the winter months (May – September) temperatures still reach a pleasant 20° C to 25° C but at night the temperatures may drop below 0° C.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are. The majority of volunteers that we host, come from the UK, US, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
We have many volunteers that travel with their friends, family members or with their partner. If required, we can ensure that you are based on the same project and stay within the same accommodation. On request, we can normally organise a private room to.
Is it safe to travel to Namibia?
We regularly visit and participate in each and every one of the programmes we offer in Namibia to rigorously check all aspects of the project and accommodation are safe and that all procedures are being followed. These include but are not limited to checking the living conditions within the volunteer accommodations, checking the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, tasting the food you’ll be eating and going on any weekend trips recommended by us or our local team.
We monitor the stability of all of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis and have constant contact with our overseas teams to ensure that our volunteers are safe.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive volunteer handbook when you choose to join us on one of our programmes. This detailed document addresses a large range of issues such as health, safety, visas, as well as going into details about local cultures and traditions.
When you arrive in-country, you will be given a safety briefing during your orientation that will cover things like emergency procedures, how to use local transport and any cultural differences.
Our in-country team are on hand to help with any issues or to answer any questions and please do not forget that our UK office is available 24/7 in case of any rare emergencies.
While we can never guarantee your volunteer experience will be 100% trouble free, we have taken all of the necessary precautions to minimise all risks and to ensure the programme is as safe as possible.
Before You Depart
When do I pay? Can I pay in instalments?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of $129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due to less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payments methods, such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application has been successful.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a compulsory part of your volunteering trip, that’s why we have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy. It is suitable for all of the programmes we offer and can be taken out at any time. You can read more about our insurance here.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, that all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try are best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would effect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that effect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. Its recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that $50 – $100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week..
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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