Neuras Vineyard & Conservation Combination
The Neuras Vineyard allows for a large amount of conservation, and uniquely combines the two on 14 hectares of stunning scenery.
The Northern section encompasses the majestic Naukluft Mountain range, and the Tsauchab river system that empties into Namibia’s famous Sossusvlei pan. The southern part of the property is a geological maze of an extensive canyon complex with a unique underground cave system. All of these environments along with the five springs provide specialised ecosystems and contain highly adapted wildlife that the Neuras team strives to protect and study.
Neuras produces two types of wine on site, a Shiraz and a blend called Namib Red. Depending on the season, volunteers may be able to assist in the various components of producing the wine such as harvesting, bottling, and labelling, all of which are done by hand. Even for non- wine drinkers helping with this process can be extremely rewarding and demonstrates how conservation projects can be sustained through novel approaches.
Activities at Neuras
Here volunteers will become first-hand involved in conservation through the research and monitoring of free-ranging carnivores.
Capture Mark Release
To understand how wildlife utilise the area and how they interact in a challenging and demanding environment requires indirect monitoring techniques such as GPS satellite tracking; especially for very secretive species like the leopard.
GPS collars are a good way of gathering important information. The volunteers will help researchers identify areas of regular carnivore activity (cheetah marking trees for example) for the placement and daily checking of cage traps. When species of interest are captured, the animals will be immobilised on-site and fitted with suitable GPS or VHF trackers for continued monitoring.
After release, the work continues at the computer following the satellite information from study animals and putting them in a scientific context.
Radio Telemetry Tracking
Collaring animals (predominantly leopard and cheetah) with GPS trackers to follow their day-to-day movements is only one piece of the puzzle though. Remote satellite tracking does not tell us much about the breeding success, prey selection, health status or other important ecological parameters of a study animal. Direct observations are necessary to evaluate these suitably and therefore the team will go into the field regularly to track collared individuals and make direct assessments.
The animals are found by way of radio telemetry which means locating the radio transmitter in each collar with an antenna and receiver. Days in the field can be long and warm, and a certain amount of walking is often required – but the rewards of finding wildlife in the bush and collecting meaningful information at the same time are unrivalled.
Herbivores of all sizes are an integral part of African ecosystems. In an open biological system such as Neuras it is important to monitor the fluctuation of population density of herbivores to assess the overall health of the ecosystem. The volunteers will participate in regular game counts to assist in these monitoring efforts. The commonly observed desert-adapted animals are Mountain Zebra, Kudu, Oryx, Springbok, Steenbok, and Ostrich.
During the early resource identification stage as well as during the continuous monitoring of wildlife populations we also rely on “additional eyes” in the form of motion- triggered camera traps .
Because the cameras record data 24/7 and every day of the year , they often “observe” wildlife that humans overlook. Also, the cameras are non-selective information on all wildlife that pass in front of them, be they carnivores, herbivores, birds or others. This helps the researchers assess which species are present, and where they are most active, especially for animals that are usually very cryptic or entirely nocturnal.
The cameras are non-invasive and sometimes record extremely interesting behavioural data that we would otherwise have no access to.
Volunteers will help set cameras in the field (for example at water points, cheetah marking trees, caves etc.), maintain them (refresh batteries and memory cards) but also go through the abundance of images to assess and structure the data recorded. For example, the cameras will be used to assess spot patterns of resident large carnivores to document the number of individuals, breeding success and also space use.
Sossusvlei Day Trip
Neuras is situated just over an hour away from the iconic red Sossusvlei Dunes. Neuras coordinators conduct an optional day trip for the volunteers for a nominal fee, offering volunteers the opportunity to experience this stunning landscape for themselves. Sossusvlei is an absolute must-see in Namibia.
Volunteers will stay in our new tented camp located across from one of Neuras’s natural springs. We have 6 tents with 2 single beds and shared bathrooms.
Fill out the form below to arrange a free consultation with our OE Advisor to find out more and talk about what project might best suit your passion and budget.