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I left my heart in the desert of Kanaan

I left my heart in the desert of Kanaan

Author -  Emma Nevard

I hear a lot of people say “You leave a piece of your heart in Africa when you leave” and this is definitely true for me.

I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about my first trip to Africa a year earlier. I was sure that all my friends, family, and quite frankly anyone that was willing to listen, were all sick of my stories. So I started planning another trip, to be honest almost as soon as I was home.

Kanaan.jpeg

Beautiful Desert view after a steep climb in search of Hyena. Words cannot describe the views of the Namib Desert and it seems to me never-ending.



Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary in Namibia was my destination of choice, and I added on a week at Kanaan Desert Retreat.
The Wildlife Sanctuary itself was simply amazing. There was so much to experience and learn. Everyday was different, different tasks, animals, people, and opportunities. Definitely a project you’d want to spent a decent amount of time, so you can experience everything on offer. I loved what they were doing within the Sanctuary and all the different projects they were involved in.

Learning during the game drives through the bush, about the research, animal tracking and camera traps was one of many highlights of mine.


However, being an introvert myself, I found it very difficult with the large amount of volunteers within the sanctuary. Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary is such a popular program. It didn’t take away from the unique experience, I still loved every minute, but I definitely left my heart in the desert of Kanaan.

The trip from the Wildlife Sanctuary to Kanaan was a seven hour journey on dusty dirt roads. The views out the non air-conditioned van were still breathtaking, you’d just have to brace yourself over every pothole so you wouldn’t knock your head on the roof.

CheetahK1.jpeg

Kanaan Desert cats. Cheetahs used to be found more often throughout the Namib desert. But with the long drought they have become harder to find.



Kanaan is limited to the amount of volunteers it can have at one time, only eleven included myself, while I was there. Which was ideal for me. Karl, or Desert Jesus as we’d come to know him, was the lead researcher at Kanaan. Mainly research of the spotted hyenas in the area. The desert area itself was almost the size of the Netherlands, so quite a huge bit of land to cover.

HyenaK3.jpeg

The hyenas that joined us on our camp out under the stars. I don't care what anyone says, hyena are cute. Fun Fact Hyena females are larger and more muscular. The highest ranking male in the clan is nearly always still lower in the hierarchy than the lowest ranking female.

EmmaK5.jpeg


A lot of the research done was around human carnivore conflict.

As the majority of people within Africa, unfortunately, see the hyena as a pest and a dirty. Sadly, they are a very misunderstood creature.
Karl would take us out in the early morning or late afternoon, because of the heat, to track the two packs in the area and see if we could find any den sites. We’d end up high within the mountains following footprints and old scat (hyena poo). The views were amazing, and we did find an old carcass, but no new signs of hyena in the area.

CheetahK2.jpeg

Of the animals in the sanctuary, I have a soft spot for cheetahs. Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary has set up a cheetah run in one of the enclosures. And these cats can really move. A rope is set up around some pulleys and connected to a motor. Something fluffy is connected to the rope and it zips around the with the cheetahs choosing whether or not they feel like some exercise.

The absolute highlight for me was camping out in the desert to observe the nocturnal wildlife.

We were in an old concrete water tank, with wall 2 metres high, so perfectly safe. But I was always remember the stars. We were four hours from any town, so the light pollution in the sky was minimal. It is the most stars I’ve seen in my life.

But we were there for more than just stargazing, an Oryx, (large antelope with a blank mask on their face) had died of dehydration in the area just in front of where we were camping. We were to observe and fingers crossed, some of the hyenas would find it.

GrpPicK6.jpeg

Learning about the camera traps was definitely a highlight. There was always a little bit of excitement going to retrieve and SD card from one and find out what animals where in the area. I learn a lot about the African wildlife by just going through one of these SD cards. And that Brown hyenas look like werewolves at the right angle. Look them up, you will not be disappointed!

We were lucky enough that one of the top ranking females found the carcass and through out the night managed to first eat all the soft parts. In the middle of the night, around 1am, we were awoken to the sound of her breaking through one of the elbows to get the bone marrow. The strength and power of these animals. It was a memory I’ll carry for ever.

On the last day at Kanaan, Karl treated us to a morning picnic in the sand dunes to watch the sunrise. He then produced a snowboard, and we spent the next few hours sand boarding. I didn’t want to leave, secretly I don’t think the desert did either, as we got stuck in the sand on the way back and it took a few hours for us all to dig the truck out!

I came home with a heart full of sand and a lot more stories.

To find out more about Emma’s projects check out Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary

https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/wildlife-conservation-sanctuary


And Kanaan Desert Retreat

https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/kanaan-desert-retreat

 

 

Fill out my online form.

I left my heart in the desert of Kanaan

I hear a lot of people say “You leave a piece of your heart in Africa when you leave” and this is definitely true for me.

I hear a lot of people say “You leave a piece of your heart in Africa when you leave” and this is definitely true for me.

I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about my first trip to Africa a year earlier. I was sure that all my friends, family, and quite frankly anyone that was willing to listen, were all sick of my stories. So I started planning another trip, to be honest almost as soon as I was home.

Kanaan.jpeg

Beautiful Desert view after a steep climb in search of Hyena. Words cannot describe the views of the Namib Desert and it seems to me never-ending.



Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary in Namibia was my destination of choice, and I added on a week at Kanaan Desert Retreat.
The Wildlife Sanctuary itself was simply amazing. There was so much to experience and learn. Everyday was different, different tasks, animals, people, and opportunities. Definitely a project you’d want to spent a decent amount of time, so you can experience everything on offer. I loved what they were doing within the Sanctuary and all the different projects they were involved in.

Learning during the game drives through the bush, about the research, animal tracking and camera traps was one of many highlights of mine.


However, being an introvert myself, I found it very difficult with the large amount of volunteers within the sanctuary. Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary is such a popular program. It didn’t take away from the unique experience, I still loved every minute, but I definitely left my heart in the desert of Kanaan.

The trip from the Wildlife Sanctuary to Kanaan was a seven hour journey on dusty dirt roads. The views out the non air-conditioned van were still breathtaking, you’d just have to brace yourself over every pothole so you wouldn’t knock your head on the roof.

CheetahK1.jpeg

Kanaan Desert cats. Cheetahs used to be found more often throughout the Namib desert. But with the long drought they have become harder to find.



Kanaan is limited to the amount of volunteers it can have at one time, only eleven included myself, while I was there. Which was ideal for me. Karl, or Desert Jesus as we’d come to know him, was the lead researcher at Kanaan. Mainly research of the spotted hyenas in the area. The desert area itself was almost the size of the Netherlands, so quite a huge bit of land to cover.

HyenaK3.jpeg

The hyenas that joined us on our camp out under the stars. I don't care what anyone says, hyena are cute. Fun Fact Hyena females are larger and more muscular. The highest ranking male in the clan is nearly always still lower in the hierarchy than the lowest ranking female.

EmmaK5.jpeg


A lot of the research done was around human carnivore conflict.

As the majority of people within Africa, unfortunately, see the hyena as a pest and a dirty. Sadly, they are a very misunderstood creature.
Karl would take us out in the early morning or late afternoon, because of the heat, to track the two packs in the area and see if we could find any den sites. We’d end up high within the mountains following footprints and old scat (hyena poo). The views were amazing, and we did find an old carcass, but no new signs of hyena in the area.

CheetahK2.jpeg

Of the animals in the sanctuary, I have a soft spot for cheetahs. Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary has set up a cheetah run in one of the enclosures. And these cats can really move. A rope is set up around some pulleys and connected to a motor. Something fluffy is connected to the rope and it zips around the with the cheetahs choosing whether or not they feel like some exercise.

The absolute highlight for me was camping out in the desert to observe the nocturnal wildlife.

We were in an old concrete water tank, with wall 2 metres high, so perfectly safe. But I was always remember the stars. We were four hours from any town, so the light pollution in the sky was minimal. It is the most stars I’ve seen in my life.

But we were there for more than just stargazing, an Oryx, (large antelope with a blank mask on their face) had died of dehydration in the area just in front of where we were camping. We were to observe and fingers crossed, some of the hyenas would find it.

GrpPicK6.jpeg

Learning about the camera traps was definitely a highlight. There was always a little bit of excitement going to retrieve and SD card from one and find out what animals where in the area. I learn a lot about the African wildlife by just going through one of these SD cards. And that Brown hyenas look like werewolves at the right angle. Look them up, you will not be disappointed!

We were lucky enough that one of the top ranking females found the carcass and through out the night managed to first eat all the soft parts. In the middle of the night, around 1am, we were awoken to the sound of her breaking through one of the elbows to get the bone marrow. The strength and power of these animals. It was a memory I’ll carry for ever.

On the last day at Kanaan, Karl treated us to a morning picnic in the sand dunes to watch the sunrise. He then produced a snowboard, and we spent the next few hours sand boarding. I didn’t want to leave, secretly I don’t think the desert did either, as we got stuck in the sand on the way back and it took a few hours for us all to dig the truck out!

I came home with a heart full of sand and a lot more stories.

To find out more about Emma’s projects check out Wildlife Conservation Sanctuary

https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/wildlife-conservation-sanctuary


And Kanaan Desert Retreat

https://www.iwh.co.nz/africa-volunteer-programs-for-kiwis/namibia-volunteer-project-options/kanaan-desert-retreat

 

 

Fill out my online form.
I left my heart in the desert of Kanaan

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