In the summer of 2015 I spent 3 weeks volunteering at the N/a'an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary in Namibia. N/a'an ku sê is a San Bushman word meaning "God will protect us," or "God watches over us", and works to support the environment, wildlife, and the local human population. The main project is based near Windhoek, Namibia, on a 10,000 hectare reserve, and it was here I spent the first week. In the second week I went further south into the rocky desert to help purely with animal research at the Neuras site, and in the third I went even deeper south to Kanaan.
I mainly worked with the animals, both looking after the animals that were at farm and assisting with the research that tracked the wild population on the reserves. The day typically started for me around 6am, and after the exhausting day's work we would typically be in our rooms (or tents) by about 8pm. For the animal care side, a day's work would typically involve some combination of cleaning the enclosures, preparing the food (and there was a lot of it!), feeding the various animals around the enclosures, bottle-feeding the baby monkeys, taking the baboons for their daily walk, looking after the baby cheetahs, exercising the adult cheetahs, and so many other minor tasks that I couldn't list them all. For the research side, I went on game counts to track the animal populations on the reserve, helped to identify marking trees and set up camera traps, tracked footprints of the large carnivores in the desert, hunted for hyena dens, hiked the new reserves to identify the lay of the land, and - again - many more other tasks.
I am sure that for the rest of my life I will remember those special feelings that come when you stare into a baboon's eyes and see the intelligence staring back at you; when you watch the sunrise over the deep red sand dunes; when you pick up a baby cheetah for a cuddle; when a baby Oryx suckles your thumb; when you ride a horse across the endless plains and a herd of zebra gallop past you; and when you look up into the night sky and see more stars than you even knew existed. Now, it's just a case of saving up money to go again.