Passionate about horses and the conservation of Africa’s most iconic endangered species? This is the project for you! Imire is a family-run conservancy, offering a unique way for volunteers to partake in the conservation of endangered rhinos and elephant. This project is designed for experienced horse-riders who are looking for a uniquely African horse-riding experience. You will ride for five days a week, Monday – Friday, for approximately 3 hours each day. This may be one long ride or two shorter ones, depending on the weather and what work needs to be done on the conservancy.
As a volunteer, you will contribute to the running of the Imire Conservancy from horseback and get involved in first-hand care of endangered rhinos and elephants on a daily basis. While researching animal behavior and being an integral part of anti-poaching initiatives, you will also learn about conservancy management and provide conservation education in local communities.
Only 90 minutes from Harare, Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to the conservation and welfare of wildlife, with a specific focus on the protection and breeding of the critically endangered Black and White Rhinoceros. Due to a rise in illegal poaching in the 1980’s, many black rhino were relocated to private conservancies for their safety. Imire was one such conservancy, which has worked towards increasing the wild black rhino population ever since. To date Imire has successfully released 11 rhino into the wild, thereby helping to protect Zimbabwe’s heritage with the successful re-introduction of this incredible endangered animal back into the wild.
At the reserve, you’ll encounter a diverse range of landscapes in 10,000 acres of conservancy that includes woodlands, savannah grassland, rocky outcrops, riverine forest, and thorny scrub. Living on this privately owned conservancy, you will witness amazing animal relationships and get a unique behind the scenes look at life on a reserve. You can visit Markwe Caves to see bush paintings and ancient tribal artifacts (if the guide is available). Sundowners from the lookout point are a great way to start off your evenings. End the night off by doing some stargazing and falling asleep to the sounds of nocturnal Africa.
Learn from experienced handlers and monitor the rhinos’ behaviour to identify patterns between individuals and establish their relationships with each other, as well as different handlers. You will also monitor feeding patterns and determine if any supplements are needed to ensure a balanced diet. These observations are crucial in identifying the different rhino personalities, gauging their moods, and predicting behavior.
Spend time with the elephants on your riding patrols and learn about these iconic animals from their knowledgeable handlers, while understanding the threats they face and what is being done to protect them. You will learn how to identify individual personalities and responses, relationships between each elephant, and their feeding patterns. You will also have the opportunity to walk with the elephants in the mornings or evenings, and in between repair elephant damage to the conservancy.
Volunteers patrol different areas of the game park on horse-back, collecting snares and traps, and looking for evidence of poaching. This minimizes small animal poaching and helps the dedicated Anti-Poaching Unit in their daily work to ensure the large animals are protected.
You will ride alongside herds of wildlife as you venture off the beaten track to carry out monitoring. Horse patrols offer increased protection in different areas of the park and enable coverage of less accessible areas. You’ll also gain insight into our anti-poaching unit by joining them during drills and training.
Small, privately-run conservancies play a vital role in conservation in Africa. Areas like Imire build and retain vital natural gene pools and sustain the remaining numbers of viable wildlife populations. As a volunteer, you will go on game counts – by foot, vehicle, and on horseback!
Undertake herd monitoring on horseback and support the cattle team with counting and locating animals. Get active and help maintain fences, roads, fireguards, and conservancy equipment. You will also monitor animals and plants, and get involved in tree planting, bush clearance, and removal of alien species!
Assist at the local primary school where you will follow an approved English literacy scheme aimed at rural African children. The materials address conservation issues in a way that is relevant to their learning.
You will also support the Conservation Club, helping to teach secondary school students about nature and conservation in both a practical and theoretical sense. Play sports and games with the younger children and get involved in a traditional cultural Zimbabwean evening – learn to cook and dance from the true experts.
Please note: This is only available at certain times of the year.
“The rides out over the Imire property were just breath-taking, and we got to see many areas and sights that you just would not see by vehicle. We could get right up close to the wildebeest herds, and walk quietly past as the sable grazed in the distance. I remember cantering through a beautiful patch of land after a long ride with the others, zebras in the foreground and impala watching on from afar and just thinking ‘this is exactly what I had hoped for when I had signed up to Imire.”
“I spent 2 weeks on the horse riding and conservation project and had the best experience ever. As horse riding volunteers we rode every morning nice and early then joined the rest of the volunteers for the daily activities after that. This meant we got the best of both worlds as we got the riding but didn’t miss out on any rhino or elephant or other activities either.”
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.
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Our volunteer programme at Imire is for people passionate about conservation, who want to contribute their efforts to save some of Africa’s most iconic endangered species.