I was volunteering at N/a’an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary— a sanctuary in central Namibia, situated 42 kilometer outside Windhoek. I spent 28 days in at N/a’an ku sê taking care of orphaned baboons, feeding farm (and wild) animals, and helping the sanctuary run smoothly. Namibia is the home of the cheetah, having the largest cheetah population worldwide (over 6000). The sanctuary took care of injured cheetahs before re-introducing them to the wild, which meant they were kept in large enclosures without too much human contact.

During this time in my life, I was briefly considering being a zoologist (or working with animals somehow), so I threw myself into this very unique and messy experience. I spent most of my time caring for a baby baboon named Coos (pictured at the end.) He was the rut; the weakest and smallest amongst the orphans. Each of the babies had vivid and active personalities— I cannot emphasize that enough—these 3 to 6 months old babies knew themselves better than I did. Still, I learned so much about myself as an animal while caring for them; for example, the staff there would tell us that baboons communicate through their eyes, like us. So we had to be very wary on how we looked at baboons at the sanctuary (we also interacted with older baboons). Some looks could be admissions of guilt, and therefore grounds for a baboon to start a fight with you. Raised eyebrows were threatening, if they smacked their lips, narrowed their eyes, and kept their ears back it would a good sign—it meant that were in a friendly mood.

It was very subtle and I was lost most of the time in this regard, so I’m grateful I had a very small and quiet baboon to care for. He was needy and constantly terrified, something in me was very attached to Coos, until one day he ate my earring right off my ear. The earring was gone but I knew then he’d could handle himself after I left.

The whole experience was out of this world, the nature in itself was breathtaking—the night sky was like an endless sequent blanket. I was unhinged, free, and in some quiet way it felt like a home. These pictures don’t do the nature justice, still I’m proud of them and I hope you get an idea of my journey!