This internship offers a rare opportunity to gain experience in three integral areas of wildlife conservation: rewilding, reserve management, and permaculture. You will become part of our expedition management team who host adventure-conservation expeditions that make up the business branch of the Oana Nature Reserve and funds the reserve management. You will join the reserve management team and gain first-hand experience in reserve management and rewilding and get involved in permaculture and sustainability projects. When possible, you will also get a chance to join the Oana Community Trust management team. This is the non-profit branch that engages with the local Nama community and community-owned conservancies of the Namibian Deep South.
Oana Nature Reserve is one of the most spectacular areas in the Namibian Deep South, a region of semi-desert broken up by the Orange River. The reserve extends for over 110,000 acres that include 31 miles of river frontage. It was established by Ian Craig of Lewa Conservancy in Kenya and Pete Morkel, a renowned wildlife vet, to provide a sanctuary for the critically endangered black rhino and to conserve a unique ecosystem in an area threatened by commercial farming.
The land is an ecotone that hosts the Nama Karoo biome, Succulent Karoo biome, and Namib Desert biome. Only 1% of the Nama Karoo is protected and the Succulent Karoo is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots on earth. The terrain itself is a chaotic geological fusion of metamorphic and igneous mountain ranges, sandy and gravel plains, seasonal riverbeds, and the Orange River that provides a kaleidoscopic landscape of colour and shapes. It is the ultimate place to escape into nature.
The rewilding program is split into 2 main concepts: land management and baseline research. Since the area was extensively farmed and used for trophy hunting, the first phase of management is to gradually transition the land back to its natural ecosystem.
Efforts are concentrated on eliminating all human infrastructure that is detrimental to wildlife, clearing scrap, removing old livestock fences, extracting alien plant species, reconstructing water points for wildlife, and revitalising grassy plains. You will also get involved with the construction of sand dams and wildlife hides and learn how to manage and maintain waterholes, tracks, and fences – a crucial part of reserve management. When possible, you may participate in the reintroductions of ostrich, meerkat, grey rhebok, cheetah, giraffe, red hartebeest, and blue wildebeest into the reserve.
The Deep South has received extremely limited scientific research, so there are ample opportunities for collecting exciting data and perhaps even identifying new species. You will be involved in conducting extensive biodiversity surveys on the local flora and fauna. Research may include camera trapping, small mammal trapping, horned adder VHF tracking, brown hyena and leopard research, game counts, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, mist netting for birds, burrowing ecosystem engineers, and apex predators
This research will offer a clearer idea of which species occur, population sizes, and distribution. This will provide essential preliminary information when establishing a conservation area prior to wildlife reintroductions and management strategy.
Another camp and subsistence farm are being built on the river, so you will get involved in the construction of both and the subsequent management of the farm.
Sustainability projects such as permaculture are constantly being developed at the locations in the reserve, so interns are encouraged to develop their own projects.
Oana Community Trust (OCT) is a charity that operates independently of the reserve and Oana Namibia (a wildlife conservation NGO). The trust engages with conservancies of the Namibian Deep South and their model is to work alongside the Nama communities and local authorities in a holistic fashion to improve water, education, medical care, livelihoods, infrastructure, and wildlife.
Other projects may include the development of skate parks and outdoor education initiatives.
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.
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