I am currently in Namibia working as a volunteer for the Harnas Wildlife Foundation. For my first week here, I mostly prepared food and fed the animals that have been rescued and live in nearby enclosures. Volunteers are divided into four teams, which are each responsible for feeding their own animals. My group has the leopards, five baboons, a baby vulture, mongooses that roam the yard and a hyena named Gumbi.
Yesterday I got to help with outside feeding, which was so much fun! Beyond the central farm are enclosures where rehabilitated cheetahs, leopards, lions, wild dogs, caracals and baboons live. We drove around to each enclosure and got to throw meat to the animals inside their enclosures. Because these animals have had so much human contact at Harnas (to help rehabilitate them) they cannot be released into the wild fully, but the large enclosures constructed here are impressive alternatives. Although the work is definitely not easy, Harnas is an incredible place and I love every minute of it!
Before coming to Harnas I spent a week and a half in South Africa volunteering for White Shark Projects. This organization takes tourists and researchers out on the water for cage dives and uses its service as an opportunity to promote conservation of the Great White Shark. On a normal day, the other volunteers and I would wake up at 5:30 a.m. to pack up the boat for a 7:30 a.m. launch, then assist tourists while aboard and record data on the sharks. At noon we would return and get ready for a second launch. It was incredible to be on the boat or in the cage and see up to 11 sharks in just two hours. We even got to see a full breach one day! I learned a lot about shark biology and their behavior, which was very interesting.
On our 'off' days, when the weather was too poor to go out to sea, we went to see the African Penguins at Betty's Bay, Cape Agulhus, the southernmost point of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, and we rode ATVs in the nearby mountains.
Although I am enjoying Africa, I can't wait to get back to Dartmouth in a few weeks!!
- Amy Drummond '14