Noah's Ark gives volunteers the opportunity to care for and handle African wildlife in the beautiful desertland of Namibia. The project is located 250 kilometres east of Windhoek (close to Botswana border) in the remote and stunning Omaheke Region which covers 4.9 million hectares of farming land. Over the past 30 years, the family-run Noah's Ark has been involved in the care, rehabilitation and housing of orphaned, injured, neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals, including lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, meerkat, baboon, many antelope species, etc.
Wildlife are often considered "problem animals" in Namibia due to the significant damage that they cause to livestock and agriculture and local farmers often resort to shooting and trapping to eliminate the problem. Noah's Ark works to educate local farmers, provide positive solutions to the continuous problems between farmers and wild animals, and give sanctuary to threatened wildlife. Additionally, Noah's Ark has established a strong, trusting relationship with the local bushmen in the surrounding areas (including the ability to speak their native language) and uses this unique understanding of their ways and needs to help promote conservation goals.
The project offers the chance to get some real hands-on experience helping many different species of Namibia's wildlife. Noah's Ark operates a policy of never turning an animal away so if you want to give ‘something back' during your stay in Namibia, this is an ideal project with which to get involved. Not a week passes without a new occupant arriving, meaning you will have many opportunities for hands-on work with animals!
As a volunteer at Noah's Ark, you will primarily work with orphaned, injured, neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals and help to create a stable environment for the wildlife at the refuge. Along with caring for wildlife, you will help perform reserve maintenance, assist the local field guides and learn how to guide project tours.
Volunteer duties at Noah's Ark include some of the following:•Feeding cheetahs and baboons (twice a day)
•Feeding and meal preparation for other wildlife (4-5 times per day)
•Caring for, hand rearing and cleaning baby animals
•Night duty of infant animals (surrogate parenting in bed)
•Cleaning the enclosures
•Assisting with repair and building of structures on the farm
•Building wildlife camps
•Erecting fences around Noah's Ark
•Assisting in the clinic with injured animals (qualified veterinary
• Training to assist as Field Guide for daily tours of Noah's Ark
• Assisting at the local bushman clinic
Depending on the time of year and demand, there is a possibility that you may also be able to assist with the African Wild Dog Project. This would involve identifying individual wild dogs, looking at family patterns and recording their eating habits.
Noah's Ark relies significantly on volunteers so that its important work can continue - you will provide much needed help in caring for the ever-increasing number of animals in the Centre. Please remember that everything you do, however simple or mundane, helps the animals and the aims of the project.
Wildlife at Noah's Ark
The animals that have found their way to Noah's Ark can be divided into five categories:
Problem Animals - Many animals cause significant damage to the local farmers and their livelihood and as such pose a threat. Farmers thus resort to any means possible to rid themselves of these problems. Noah’s Ark works to give advice, collect caught animals and provide positive solutions to the continuous problems between farmers and the wild animals of Namibia.
Injured Animals - Animals caught in traps and other devices are usually hurt beyond normal recovery. Noah’s Ark is therefore unable to rehabilitate the animals, but provides the necessary care to ensure they survive and live happily at the sanctuary.
Pets - The worst and most commonly found problems arise from people that try to domesticate wild animals and have them as house pets. This causes secondary problems like the deliberate killing of female animals to get to her young. Not being able to handle and understand these grown animals results in cruelty treatments when dealing with them. Noah’s Ark thus acts as a haven for these unwanted pets, rescuing them from their situations.
Orphaned Baby Animals - Having been killed by hunters, poachers or road accidents, grown wild animals leave orphans behind. The babies, sometimes as young as a day old, are presented to Noah’s Ark for round the clock care and attention. As adults these wild animals become "tame" and often enjoy the company of people and so are unable to live elsewhere.
Animals Born at Noah’s Ark - Animals on the project are treated with hormone implants to prevent pregnancies, but not all of them have been successful and as a result animals have been born on the farm.
Ongoing Research Projects
Noah's Ark believes in life and takes its role very seriously in the conservation and protection of Namibian wildlife, land and people. Noah's Ark does everything possible to avoid resettled animals from being used for hunting or commercial purposes. Presently, there are two on-going projects coordinated by Noah's Ark : The Wildlife Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Project and the African Wild Dog Project.
The Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Program - Noah's Ark has been rehabilitating injured, orphaned and problem animals for the past 25 years and has, in this period, developed a perfect infrastructure for rehabilitation. The project rehabilitates animals to their natural health, setting an international standard for wildlife rehabilitation and care. Noah's Ark then releases those animals into reserves, continuing to monitor and manage the released animals in the reserve. The project is always seeking more release sites for fully rehabilitated animals.
African Wild Dog Project --The African Wild Dog is one of the most endangered predators in Africa. Wild Dog populations have declined to such an extent in the past 30 years that there are small populations left in only 14 countries where they were previously present in 39. Only six of these countries have populations of more than 100. The project recognizes the fact that the African Wild Dog is one of Namibia's most valuable assets and intends releasing some of its current captively-held dogs into a proposed 10,000 hectare reserve.
Noah's Ark accepts volunteers of 18 - 45 years of age. Volunteers under 18 years old are only considered when accompanied by a parent/guardian. Families and volunteers over 45 years of age are welcome to join our "exclusive" program!
Your accommodation will be in the volunteer village - a clustering of raised wooden cabins looking out onto a big waterhole. Each cabin sleeps four volunteers and is occupied on a same sex basis. The cabins have only two wooden sides. The other two sides are completely laid out with mosquito netting, and the outside is covered by canvas which can be rolled up and down. This provides a comfortable and cool area. Rooms are fitted with individual storage areas for personal effects and single beds with bedding and towels provided. The bathroom facilities are shared, with hot water and flush toilets.
There is a separate kitchen and dining area, and three meals a day are provided. Volunteers will prepare their own breakfasts (cereal, tea, coffee, toast, fruit, yoghurt), but the other meals will often be prepared by the Lodge. Please note that you may be asked to assist with making sandwiches at lunchtime.
Training / Qualifications
Training will be provided by staff at the project. A full introduction covering all aspects of working at this project is given to volunteers upon arrival. Volunteers are then allocated a supervisor, who will oversee the volunteers' daily work. A manual is given to each volunteer which will include details of responsibilities, policies and procedures of the farm, the organizational structure, code of conduct and clear guidelines of all aspects of working practices.
Noah's Ark is only accepting volunteers of 18-40 years. If you are over 40 years and had your heart set on a hands-on experience with wildlife, we would highly recommend the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Baboon Sanctuary or Vervet Monkey Sanctuary.
Work Visa Requirement
The Namibian Department of Home Affairs requires work visas for all volunteers of all nationalities joining the Noah's Ark program. Noah's Ark has engaged a company in Windhoek to process all work visa applications and the application fee will be $99 USD. Please submit your visa application with passport copy and document of independence 6 weeks before arrival. Unless you have a work visa in hand, you must never mention that you are volunteering at Noah's Ark - you may be denied entry as this can be misconstrued by Immigration at working in the country.
Noah’s Ark is based in a remote area of Namibia (1½ hours drive from the nearest town) and therefore volunteers will only be able to go into town on rare occasions. Communications can be erratic and unreliable, most particularly email. There is mobile reception in parts of the reserve and you will have access to phone and fax. Volunteers must pay the local rate per minute for phone usage.
Noah's Ark is an ever-changing environment and power failures, water shortages, temperature fluctuations and other uncontrollable situations do occur. Volunteers need to remain flexible, understanding and in good humor/spirits about constant changes. “Africa time” can be very frustrating for those who are used to a more structured way of life. You must be tolerant and patient as things may not happen when you want or when it was scheduled.
It is very important when you come to Noah's Ark that you leave any “romantic” ideas of life in the bush behind you. If you have seen a documentary about the wonderful work, the animals, the landscape and the family, it is easy to overlook the less glamorous side of the project. Working at Noah's Ark is dirty and dusty. If you are working with the animals, you are required to prepare their food. This will mean cutting and handling fresh meat, etc. This may not be for the squeamish! Also, please remember that certain wildlife that you may not enjoy live at the Centre, including snakes, beetles, moths and other “creepy-crawlies”. We do appreciate this can be a very real difficulty for people and only you can decide whether it may spoil the enjoyment of your trip or not.
Volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working in close contact with wild animals.
2 weeks: GB£895 / US$1195
3 weeks: GB£1195 / US$1595
4 weeks: GB£1495 / US$1995
Extra weeks: GB£295 / US$395 per week
Volunteers get discounted rates when joining 2 or more Enkosini programs!
Enkosini uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at www.xe.com.
Volunteer contributions cover meals, accommodation, sanctuary activities, transfers from Windhoek to Noah's Ark, and project donation. Flights and travel/medical insurance are NOT included. The only additional spending money required will be for personal purchases, communication (phone/email), visa application fees, social excursions away from Noah's Ark, and pre/post project travel. We do not have discounted rates for partial weeks.
Please bear in mind that Noah's Ark is an extremely popular programme - the sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
Noah's Ark accepts volunteers all year round. The program starts on Friday mornings and ends on Thursday afternoons.
The staff provide transfers from Windhoek to Noah's Ark at 9:00am on Friday mornings for transfer to Noah's Ark before lunch, therefore volunteers must fly into Windhoek the day before their program start date and overnight at either Chameleon Backpackers (www.chameleonbackpackers.com) or Cardboard Box Backpackers (www.ahj.addr.com). These backpackers can arrange "meet and greet" pickups at the Windhoek Airport. The staff return volunteers to Windhoek on Thursday afternoons after 2:00pm.
The closest city to Noah's Ark is WINDHOEK. Flights are available from Europe to Windhoek as well as from Johannesburg/Cape Town to Windhoek. Great fares from Jo'Burg to Windhoek can be found atwww.kulula.com.
“Noah's Ark was one of the most amazing, life changing experiences I have ever had! I spent a month at Noah's Ark working on rehabilitating and taking care of wild animals. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being able to get so close to these animals. I had daily contact with lions, cheetahs, meerkats, ostriches, baboons, vervet monkeys and so much more.
By the second day we were having hands on experiences feeding, cleaning and grooming the animals. I got to sleep with cheetahs (outside under the stars) and baby baboons (in my bed!). It is an unbelievable experience being able to put a diaper on a baby baboon, feed it a bottle and have it sleep in the bed with you. We experienced everything from hand feeding cheetahs, to taking lions on walks and building a play area for the blind vervet monkey. The daily schedule is pretty much the same but at any moment something could happen - new animals arriving at the farm, an animal needing attention, the bat eared foxes getting out of their enclosure. You have to be on your toes because anything could happen... the main motto is: expect the unexpected... and its true!
This opportunity allowed me the chance to work with wild animals (one of my passions) and also to look within myself. It was a once in a lifetime experience that was the best choice I could have made!” - Andrea Stein, United States
Are there telecommunication and medical facilities at the project?
There is a telephone/fax facility in the office that may be used for phone calls. This will print out all calls made and calls will be charged to volunteer accounts. There is a phone booth on the premises and phone cards can be purchased in the office. The nearest clinic is 10 minutes away and the nearest hospital is an hour and a half away, but the project itself does keep a good supply of medicine for minor injuries, ailments, etc.
How much do the volunteers work? Is there any free time?
Animals need constant care and attention. There is no time off from the daily routine. The volunteers generally work about 6-8 hours during the week, and several hours per day on the weekends to feed the animals (once feedings are done, you have the rest of the day off).
It is recognized that you will need some time to relax and rest. You will be allocated some time each day to chill out with other volunteers, sit by the pool or just relax around the farm. Please understand that you must remain flexible about when and for how long this will be depending on the animals' needs. If possible, we will try to take you on various trips or have a fun activity once a week.
What kind of clothes should I bring?
Always wear clothes that are dispensable. You will be working with meat, blood, animal food, dirt and dust etc. Always wear closed shoes when you are around the animals. Avoid wearing dangling objects, loose clothes or jewelry, especially rings, around the animals. Be careful of wearing hats or sunglasses when working with animals, as some may feel threatened by these. You must also wear your nametag and project shirt. These will be provided by your manager.
What should I know about general safety and security?
The office has a safe for important documents or expensive items. It is always sensible to lock your sleeping quarters and keep windows closed when you are not there. Very occasionally, animals such as young baboons can escape. Always be aware and keep alert as you move around Noah's Ark. If you see anything that looks out of place or a possible source of danger, report it as soon as possible. Some of the game and animals in the open areas can be aggressive. Be careful when approaching any of the animals.
What is the climate like in Namibia?
Namibia has a harsh climate. It is generally very hot, however in the winter months (from May to August) the temperatures can drop dramatically in the evenings. Do not underestimate how cold it is in the winter months! There is a rainy season from February to April.
What should I bring?
Town trips are infrequent so it is important to bring enough of the necessities for the duration of your stay (smokers should certainly stock up ahead of time!).
We suggest the following packing list:
• A "willing to learn and participate" attitude• A sleeping bag and pillow• Natural color clothing and hat• Comfortable walking shoes/boots• Raincoat• Thick socks
• Alarm clock/watch
• Books, paper and pens• Camera, film and batteries• Adaptor• Biodegradable detergent and washing line
• Working gloves• Day sack• Personal toiletries (soap, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products)
• Small first-aid kit (prescribed medication, plasters, disinfectant
wipes, painkillers, after-bite product, anti-mosquito products,
tooth repair kit, rehydration salts, Imodium)• Insect repellent• Powerful flashlight/torch• Sunblock and sunglasses• Passport, Visas and Medical/Travel Insurance documents
Over the past 30 years, Noah’s Ark has been involved in the care, rehabilitation and housing of orphaned, neglected, abused and abandoned wild animals. On 19th January 2001, the family’s beloved father and husband died of a sudden illness. His wife, their children and their spouses have since been intimately involved with the managing and development of this project.
Recent publicity given to Noah’s Ark has resulted in such an enormous escalation of received animals that the initial "hobby" has now changed into a full-time occupation for nearly 60 local people. The project is fully dedicated to preserving the animals and supplying them with their natural habitat in a large reserve area. At first, the family used their own earnings to carry the project expenses, but due to a dramatic increase in both the number of rescued animals and the running costs of the wildlife foundation, the need for a wildlife trust fund was born. Having never received any government funds or grants, the family has still managed to win international acclaim for their success in rescuing and caring for the Namibian wildlife. The project is now a registered animal welfare organisation.
Noah’s Ark believes in life and takes its role in conservation and the protection of the Namibian wildlife, land and people very seriously. It should be remembered that this project would not be necessary if people left the wild animals alone in their natural habitat. From hunting, poaching and the buying and selling of wild animals, it is becoming increasingly hard to prevent or improve on the given situation. Without the help of places like Noah’s Ark, the eventual extinction of wild animals in Africa will be difficult to prevent.
In principle, Noah’s Ark is against the confinement of wild animals, however there are times when this is inevitable. When released into the wild, there is a very high mortality rate in previously captive animals. There is also a shortage of safe and hospitable release sites for large carnivores and all wild animal species in Namibia. It takes a great deal of manpower, effort and money to successfully monitor a newly released animal and ensure its survival.
The project provides animals that have nowhere else to go with the opportunity to live in semi wild, safe, roaming areas. This is the safest place for those animals that cannot be successfully released. Noah’s Ark does everything possible to avoid resettled animals from being used for hunting or commercial purposes.
Noah’s Ark also has a clear policy of employing people from the local community for as many jobs as possible, hereby supporting the social and economic growth of the community and the sense of conservation it creates among the local people.