Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Volunteer Position in the wilderness of the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Volunteer Position in the wilderness of the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Position Title: Volunteer Interpreter
Short Description: Elephant Interpretation/ hosting of guests and general camp duties.
Detailed Description:
We have 3 African Elephants; Jabu, a 25 year old bull; Thembi, a 25 year old cow; and Morula, a 34 year old cow. Jabu and Thembi (female) have been with us for 24 years and we have had Morula for about 18 years. They are all fairly easy going. Jabu is big for his age, about 11 feet at the shoulder and extremely well natured. Thembi is very smart and needs consistent, competent handling. Morula is generally very relaxed. We currently have just 1 local handler, who we trained, assisting us. We manage the trio on a supervised free-range basis, which means handlers accompany them as they forage in the bush during the day. We guide, monitor, follow, call and direct them in their natural environment. At night they come back to an enclosure.
We have two organizations.
1) Grey Matters is a business enterprise which is responsible for the daily upkeep of our elephants through high end tourism. We work in conjunction with Abercrombie & Kent/ Sanctuary Retreats Botswana, a worldwide travel company. Guests stay in one of two lodges in the area and spend the morning with us participating in an interactive educational elephant experience. The elephant trio are the main attraction to the lodges.
2) Living With Elephants is a very small NGO. Its main project is an educational one which brings local children to our camp for two days. LWE's overall mission is to encourage harmonious relationships between people and elephants. LWE is also charged with securing the long term future of the elephant trio.
"The "elephant activity" is an interactive educational experience that takes place in the wilderness of the Okavango Delta with our three African elephants. During this activity, international guests from two eco-tourism safari camps observe, learn and interact with our elephant trio. The successful candidate needs good communication skills so as to be able to interpret elephant biology, conservation, behavior, and natural history to guests. Duties include hosting, chatting to and entertaining guests on the activity and safely guiding, directing them around the elephants, helping with service at the picnic including hosting and entertaining and clearing the table. The elephant activity is about 4 hours in duration and is conducted an average of 5 days a week.
Our camp is based in the southern part of the world famous Okavango Delta, in a Community Based Natural Resource Management Area called Ng 32. Our camp is 2.5 - 3 hours drive from Maun or 10 minutes by air. The scenery of this area is typical of the Okavango Delta, one of our planets most pristine and beautiful natural wilderness areas, and it is rich in spectacular flora and fauna.
The successful candidate would be working and living very closely with ourselves in a beautiful and isolated area and an ability to self entertain and a fairly easy going disposition are essential in this unusual living and working environment.
Current camp facilities are basic. We have limited electrical power, generated by a small solar system from which we run lights, laptops and charge various batteries. We have a communal outdoor shower with wood heated water, long drop toilets and cook on gas in an open sided kitchen area. Accommodation is in the form of a large (3m x 5m) tent with comfortable bedding and equipment. We have a fairly large library that the successful candidate would be free to tap into! The camp has limited internet connection but no telephone service except a satellite phone for emergencies. You would need a laptop to access it.
There is no access to shops while in camp and goods come in once a week by plane on the weekly fresh and freight run, so as far as possible personal items need to be brought with to camp.
Local staff in camp are not allowed alcohol (this is std in the camps in the delta) so we don’t keep a lot of liquor in camp and don’t drink very frequently.
a) Hosting and interpretation of the elephant experience will involve looking out for guest safety and comfort, imparting lots of quality information, helping with photography, liaising between directors, handlers, guests and guides, directing guests (polite herding), ushering, getting drinks, clearing table, moving program along and keeping group focus
b) Assistance will also be required with the following camp duties: washing dishes, cooking food, chopping veges, cleaning elephant boma, picking up manure and branches, collecting fodder, cleaning fridge, placing and receiving orders, keeping records, lighting fire for heating shower water, washing laundry, organizing and cleaning cupboards and storage container.
We would provide:
1) tented accommodation in camp
2) food and beverage in camp.

Contact Information

Name: Doug and Sandi Groves
Title: Directors
Organization: Grey Matters
Address: P.O. Box 66, Maun, Botswana
Phone: ++ 267 75502128
Please see below for further background material!
1. GM Profile and Background
Grey Matters was formed in 1994 as a commercial operation to provide tourists to Botswana with the Elephant Experience, and the opportunity to meet, interact, observe and learn about elephants in their natural habitat.
The owners of GM, Doug and Sandi Groves met and fell in love in 1990 in Natal, South Africa when Doug was training and caring for orphaned elephants and other animals in a wildlife reserve and Sandi was a graduate zoology student. Doug started his carrier in 1972 in the USA where he had gained much experience working with elephants in zoos and safari parks in Oregon, Washington, California and elsewhere. He has worked under some of the masters in the metier. His experience is broad, encompassing young and mature, male and female, African and Asian elephants. He came to South Africa in 1987 on a ship with a number of Africa elephants as the expert elephant trainer to film “Circles In The Forest’’ filmed in Knysna, South Africa . Doug decided to stay in Africa and make a future with elephants.
Doug and Sandi adopted the two insecure orphaned elephant calves, Jabu and Thembi, from the Karkloof Falls Nature Reserve and moved to northwestern South Africa where they launched various commercial endeavours with their elephants including further filming and advertising. The little bull, Jabu (short for the Zulu word for “happiness”) and his female friend, Thembi, had been orphaned during culling operations in the Kruger National Park. In 1994 Doug and Sandi also rescued a 17 year old elephant cow, now named Morula, who was otherwise going to be destroyed. With Doug and Sandi, all three elephants found much kindness, love, security, and leadership, and have developed into remarkably contented and well adjusted family members, now fully grown and very impressive and experienced elephant ambassadors. Over the years Doug and Sandi have developed, blended and honed a unique and soft but disciplined approach with their elephants resulting in well balanced happy elephants.
In 1994 GM were invited to set up an elephant tourism project in Botswana and so they relocated there. When that operation was disbanded after a few years, GM relocated to the East side of the Delta and subsequently reached an agreement with Abercrombie and Kent to provide their unique Elephant Experience to visitors to A & K’s Sanctuary Retreats lodges: Stanley’s and subsequently Baines. This agreement dates back to 2000 and remains in place.
It is noteworthy that in addition to their commercial operations, Doug and Sandi have a not-for-profit foundation called Living with Elephants. LWE is dedicated to relieving conflict and competition between the African Elephant and human populations in Botswana. They do this primarily by harnessing the emotive power of their elephant trio in educational programs which encourage a harmonious relationship between elephants and people sharing range. Doug and Sandi provide local communities and groups of school children with the Elephant Experience free of charge and accommodate and facilitate others engaged in this endeavour. See www.livingwithelephants.org for more details.
2. Current Modus Operandi
GM have their own separate, self-contained camp a few kilometres from Stanley’s Lodge. The camp is simple. There is a small staff of assistant elephant handlers and labourers accommodated in their staff camp. The elephants are confined to an enclosure at night where they receive extra feed and mopane browse.
During the day, the elephants are taken into the bush to feed, mud-bathe, and otherwise enjoy being elephants. They roam freely accompanied by the handlers who guide and control them with voice commands. When necessary, handlers ride on the elephants to cross water, avoid buffalo etc. The elephants are usually brought back to the camp to give the handlers a break for lunch.
A photographic safari partner markets the Elephant Experience worldwide. Visitors usually book the Elephant Experience in advance but can also book in the lodges - depending on availability. After breakfast, groups of up to 10 guests are taken by vehicle into the bush to meet up with Doug, Sandi and the elephants. After initial safety instructions, Doug teaches the guests about elephants in general and the trio in particular. Guests are given the opportunity to meet and interact with the elephants under Doug and Sandi’s careful supervision. They get to touch them and observe details close up. A leisurely walk through the bush alongside the elephants follows with opportunities to see other wild game, and for Doug to share anecdotes and his knowledge of the environment and elephants. A licensed armed guide accompanies the walk in case of emergencies. Photo opportunities are given along the way to the picnic site adjacent to a lagoon. The lodge has prepared the table under the trees and an excellent meal and drinks are served with the foraging elephants present. After lunch and further interactions with the elephants, the guests are collected by vehicle and taken back to the lodge.
The elephants require care, watering, feeding excursions, behaviour reinforcing, and much attention every day of the year. Very occasionally veterinary attention is required. Doug manages all this. Sandi is also a very experienced and competent elephant handler/ trainer with 20 years of experience.
GM have developed a winning formula in the provision of an inspirational tourist experience. International and local visitors (including 250 local school children a year) often reflect that the experience shared with them is life-changing and the best thing they have ever done. Many are so moved that tears are common. The experience of walking through the real wilds of Africa with free elephants is unforgettable especially with the emphasis placed on reverence, celebration, connecting with, learning about, understanding and a general passion for elephants. GM have over 20 years experience providing the above mentioned experience to people.
Grey Matters is proud of its impeccable safety record regarding both the humans and the elephants involved in its program and are pleased to be able offer their elephants an excellent quality of life with large amounts of relative freedom. GM value their inter-species relationship, which is based

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