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The Gap Year Blog

Polly Cheal - Namibia Wildlife Conservation and Sanctuary

26 Oct 2017 15:35 PM

Polly wanted to gain hands-on experience of working with a variety of exotic animals, as well as experiencing life away from home for the first time — and certainly found trying to sleep with the sound of jackals and lions in the background a new experience!

1. Why did you choose this particular project?

I chose this project because the sanctuary has a wide variety of different animals to work with and it seemed like a friendly environment.

2. Which kind of work and activities did you do during your project?

I worked a lot with the baboons, babysitting them, going on walks with them and general play with the three month old babies. I walked cheetah cubs on leads in the bush. Food prep involved preparing food for all the animals for that day and the next. I went on a carnivore feed, throwing meat to all the cheetahs, lions, leopards and wild dogs outside of the farm.

3. How did the culture differ to home, and what were the local people like?

The culture was incredibly different, all the locals were really lovely and friendly, always saying hello when we walked past. Going to sleep to the sound of jackals and lions then getting home and hearing traffic was very strange.

4. What was the accommodation like?

I was staying in one of the tents and it was very comfortable, the bed was nice and it was very spacious.

5. What were the staff and other volunteers like?

Everyone was so lovely and friendly, I was made to feel welcome from the moment I arrived. I considered the staff my friends and I am still talking to a lot of the volunteers I met out there. Everyone got on so well and it was a really nice environment.

6. What was your most amazing moment or your best memory?

My best memory is probably going on the baby baboon walks, or babysitting the three month old baboons. It was so much fun to interact with them and learn about their habits and mannerisms. And they were just so cute!

7. Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?

I feel like the work I was doing was very worthwhile and knowing that every job you were doing was for the benefit of the animals meant that nothing was boring and you felt needed and valued.

8. What sort of wildlife did you encounter?

I encountered a variety of wildlife both on the farm with the baboons, cheetahs and antelope, but also when out on research walks, there was always some kind of wildlife to see, whether a bird, a spider or a giraffe.

9. What were you hoping to learn while on project, and have you achieved those goals?

I was hoping to learn how to work hands on with a variety of different animals that I wouldn't find in the UK, as well as being in another country and culture. As I went on my own I wanted to know that I could be independent and make friends with people from all over the world and feel comfortable in an environment that I'd never been in before - and I feel like I have achieved all of these things.

10. Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?

To future volunteers - be open minded and don't be afraid to try new things. Get stuck in with everything and don't be scared to ask for help, anyone will give you a hand. Don't be nervous, it's an amazing experience that you'll never forget.

11. What do you have planned next?

I would love to go back to the project in Namibia, and for a lot longer. I would also (after university) love to work abroad, maybe doing a year in Brazil working with animals out there.

By Polly Cheal - Frontier Volunteer | Namibia Wildlife Conservation & Sanctuary

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!