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Elephant & Human Relations Aid Project

This project takes you to the northwestern regions of the Namib Desert, traditionally known as ‘Damaraland’. This harsh tribal wilderness area, runs parallel to the Skeleton Coast National Park, and is home to a small population of desert-adapted elephants. The first week of the project will see you working with the local subsistence farmers, building protective walls around their water points, and teaching them the skills needed in managing the conflict with the resident elephant populations. The following week is spent assisting the staff of the project in following and monitoring the movements of elephants on patrol, camping wild and living close to the earth, elephants and the people.

In brief: Project Aims and Objectives

This project is part of a long-term initiative to find solutions to the ever-growing problem of facilitating the peaceful co-habitation between the subsistence farmers, and the desert adapted elephants, through:

  • research
  • education
  • development

The project’s emphasis is on the building of protective structures around communal water points, creation of additional water points for elephants, assisting with, and teaching the farmers skills to financially benefit through tourism in the area, researching elephant movements, distribution and compiling identikits on herds and individuals.

Why is the project running?

The project was launched in December 2001 as a result of the escalation in competition for natural resources between the desert dwelling elephants and human inhabitants of the northern Erongo and Kunene regions.

Through concerted efforts by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), IRDNC, Save the Rhino Trust and other NGO’s over the past 20 years, the population of desert dwelling elephants in the region has grown from as low as 52 members to a current population of over 600 elephants. As a result, elephants have expanded their range to the south and east into territories they have not occupied for many years. Subsistence farmers husbanding mainly cattle, goats and sheep, traditionally occupy these areas; as a result competition for water and grazing has escalated tremendously causing conflict between farmers and elephants.

Depletion of the natural water table with increasing human use has led too less available surface water for consumption. Therefore, man-made water points located close to the riverbeds have become the target for elephants in their quest for fresh water. In their search for the source of such points elephants cause extensive damage to windmills, dams, reservoirs, hand-pumps and wells. As the farmer’s homesteads are normally located close to the water source, secondary damage is also caused and the lives of humans and livestock are threatened.

The project believes that through assisting these communities by constructing protective structures around water points, educating community members about elephant behaviour, creating alternative drinking points for the elephants and promoting tourism in the affected areas, we can assist in alleviating the current pressure facing communal farmers.
There by helping to promote the future of the desert dwelling elephant in harmony with the continuous positive development of the conservancies and their ideals. With the escalation of tourism as an increasing potential earner of revenue for these communities, the value of elephants and other wildlife in communal areas has increased dramatically.

Damaraland is a vast, scarcely populated communal trust land, as it is a transitional zone between the high rainfall area in the east, and the Skeleton Coast in the west, it is regarded as un-farmable on a commercial basis. Therefore it has become a natural, unfenced refuge for desert-adapted animals such as: black rhino, oryx, giraffe, springbuck, kudu, steenbok, baboon, lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, brown hyena, black backed jackal and more.

These areas used to be inhabited by nomadic bushman hunter-gatherers, of whom there is lots of evidence in the form of thousands of rock paintings and engravings. Now, beyond the fringe of permanent settlements, only nomadic pastoral farmers, and tourists venture. This area is still regarded as one of the last true wilderness areas left on earth!

Besides a willing mind, and a strong back, you do not need any special training to work on this project. During your time spent here, you will learn the following:

  • Camp craft including cooking over a fire, bush camp set up, safety and hygiene.
  • Bush craft like tracking, approaching dangerous animals on foot, animal behaviour, bush walking, navigation, map reading, GPS etc.
  • Compiling identification kits on elephants.
  • Traditional building skills.

During the first week you will avoid the heat and wake up early, for your first cup of coffee around the campfire. After the team member on duty serves breakfast, you’ll head out to the project site for the day. It is likely you will be busy building a wall around a local farmer’s windmill, although you also work on other projects such as teaching farmers wives to make paper using elephant dung, doing work on the base camp, helping community members build a tourist camp or fix a rural school. You then head back to camp for lunch and siesta. You could also be tasked to update data forms, be on kitchen and camp duty for the day. The evenings are spent around the campfire, eating and talking about the day’s events. You live closely in the desert camp.

The second week is spent out on elephant patrol; you’ll pack some basic camping equipment in the 4x4 and set off looking for the illusive elephants. On patrol you camp wild, and sleep under the stars. You follow elephants on foot, sometimes for hours under the desert sun, and sit patiently observing from some rocky outcrop whilst they laze away in the shade! This is the life few ever have the privilege to live.

2018 Rates
Price per person N$15,450 (12days)

Dates for 2018
8 & 22 Jan; 05 & 19 Feb; 5 & 19 Mar; 2, 16 & 30 Apr; 14 & 28 May; 11 & 25 Jun; 9 & 23 Jul; 6 & 20 Aug; 03 & 17 Sep; 1, 15 & 29 Oct; 12 & 26 Nov


Associated with

Air Namibia Namibia Tourism Board Budget Car Rentals Tour and Safari Association

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Contact Details

Phone: (+264) 61 - 309387
Fax: (+264) 61 - 220885
Facebook: Chameleon Holidays & Travel Windhoek, Namibia
Skype: chameleon.holidays

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5-6 Voigt Street North
Central Windhoek

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Chameleon Holidays & Travel
P.O. Box 6107