GoAbroad Interview

Werner Dörgeloh - Founder & Director

Werner Dörgeloh - Founder & Director

Werner studied zoology and wildlife management in South Africa and obtained his PhD from the University of Pretoria. In addition, Dr. Dörgeloh has many years of experience in tertiary teaching, research, and field work in African savannas, wildlife ecology, conservation, and natural resources. Based on his background in wildlife conservation and extensive travel experience, he founded Eko Tracks in 2006 to offer quality programs and tours abroad. He also speaks English, German, and Afrikaans.

You have a PhD in wildlife management, a strong academic background in zoology, and 25 years of research and teaching experience. What was the impetus for starting Eko Tracks and running tours and safaris?

I direct a study abroad program to Namibia each year through a university and realized that I can offer similar programs to a wider audience of students.

Students setting up a game capture operation

Veterinary students preparing for a game capture operation

Eko Tracks offers a variety of different meaningful travel programs, study abroad, volunteering, internships, and adventure programs. With a small staff, how are you able to run so many different programs?

I have long-standing collaborations with many different organizations and companies which assist with in-country logistics.

What sets Eko Tracks apart from other organizations?

All the programs are carefully designed and selected to offer students quality products. I am also familiar with each destination, program, and tour.

You’ve spent over 20 years in Southern Africa, what makes Namibia and South Africa such great destinations for studying, interning, and volunteering abroad?

All the programs focus on wildlife and conservation and there is no better place than Africa to work with and learn about wildlife.

Girl feeding an elephant

Student feeding an elephant

You were born and raised in Namibia, what led you to live in North Carolina?

A job opportunity in North Carolina brought us to the U.S.

Your mission says that you aim to, “inspire interest in the natural world and promote a lasting conservation perspective” for your participants. How do your programs go about doing this? What is the number one thing people should know about Eko Tracks?

Apart from participating in these programs and tours, students and tourists get exposed to many other aspects, politically, economically, and culturally that impact conservation. Participants also directly or indirectly contribute to conservation.

How do you ensure participants have a successful program experience abroad? 

These programs have been running for a long time and are regularly updated and checked to ensure a quality product.

Girls walking with caracals in the African bush

Volunteers taking caracals for a walk in the African bush

What kind of in-country support do you provide participants?

Our strong in-country support network provides logistical and participant support, and ensures that the programs and tours continue to run smoothly.

What type of living arrangement is most beneficial for participants while abroad?

Providing the basic needs, such as comfortable full-board accommodation, makes a big difference for people while they can focus on their program or tour.

What is your best piece of advice for future participants?

Prospective participants should look at the itinerary and activities of a program or tour to know what it is about and what to expect. Students should also remember that these are life experiences that will strengthen their education and resume for future careers.

If you had to hop on a plane tomorrow to lead one of Eko Tracks’ programs, which one would you choose and why?

It is very difficult to choose one, because they are all unique in their own way and very different from each other. For me it would be more important to be back in Africa with all its wildlife and everything else it has to offer.

What has been your biggest achievement since founding Eko Tracks?

The biggest achievement so far has been to offer a variety of unique, quality programs and tours. The long-term vision is to offer more programs in different environments and regions of the world.

What is on the horizon for Eko Tracks? Any new programs or updates for the future?

The long-term vision is to offer more programs in different environments and regions of the world.