Horse Riding, Elephant & Rhino Conservation

Protect Endangered Wildlife Species in Zimbabwe

Passionate about horses and the conservation of Africa’s most iconic endangered species? This is the conservation volunteer project for you! Imire is a family-run conservancy in the heart of Zimbabwe, offering a unique way for volunteers to partake in the conservation of endangered rhinos and elephants. This elephant and rhino conservation project is designed for experienced riders who are looking for a uniquely African horse-riding experience. You will ride for five days a week, Monday to 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 conservation 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.

Project Highlights

  • Get involved with rhino and elephant conservancy monitoring and management on horseback
  • Learn about animal behavior as you monitor their activities, feeding, and socialization
  • Get a unique behind the scenes look at life on a reserve and learn what is involved in the wildlife management
  • Live in and explore the beautiful Zimbabwe bush on foot, horse-back, or by game viewer
  • Educate local school children about conservation, wildlife, and the environment

Quick Facts

Zimbabwe

Harare International Airport

Specific Start Dates

2 weeks

Impact: Wildlife Conservation

From $1435 per week

Project Destination

Only 90 minutes from Harare, Imire Rhino and 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. 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 means you’ll be up close and personal with the wildlife! Imagine waking up to the sounds of the African bush, or sharing your breakfast with a curious giraffe – at Imire, these extraordinary experiences become your daily reality.

ACCOMODATION

You will be comfortably accommodated while volunteering at Imire.Your group size will be a maximum of 12 volunteers. Rooms are shared and the furnishings are comfortable single beds with bedding provided (duvets, pillows and extra blankets for winter!). Showers and toilet facilities are shared, and hot water is supplied.

Three home cooked meals are provided daily on a self-serve basis. At the weekends, you can opt for something special from the Lodge restaurant*. Vegetarian and limited vegan options are available upon request. Should you have any dietary requirements or food allergies it is important that you let us know before you arrive.

The cell-phone signal can be variable and intermittent, and the data network can be unreliable. You can buy a local SIM card and data bundles at the airport should you wish to connect to the internet during your stay.

During the summer months, from October to March, daytime temperatures in the summer can reach 35°C and days can be long in the field so make sure you have a wide-brimmed hat, plenty of sunscreen, and a water bottle. Summer is also the rainy season, so it is a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket.

During winter, between May and September, evenings and nights can get very cold in our area of Zimbabwe so if you are coming during that period make sure you pack some warm clothes, a wooly hat, and long trousers as the mornings can also get very chilly.

Participant Requirements

AGE

Minimum Age is 17 (16 if traveling with a parent who is also horse riding). Other adult companions require sign off.

To travel to Africa, many people are required to obtain a visa either upon entry to the relevant country or beforehand. Please note different countries require different passport validity periods.

But don’t panic, our Journey Team will help direct you and answer your questions during our Pre-departure process.

Participants should have experience of riding for long periods (2+ hours). English and Stock saddles are supplied but you will be required to bring your own riding helmet.

During sundown, a group of volunteers are enjoying the view of Zimbabwe.

Project Impact Areas

RHINO CONSERVATION

Learn from experienced handlers and monitor the rhinos’ behavior to identify patterns between individuals and establish their relationships with each other, as well as different handlers. You will also monitor rhino 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, and ultimately in rhino conservation.

WORK WITH ELEPHANTS

Spend time with elephants whilst not on 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 elephant 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.

WILDLIFE MONITORING

Volunteers patrol different areas of the reserve on horse-back. 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.

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On-the-ground Project Support

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FLIGHTS & ARRIVAL

A friendly face from our Base Team will be ready to meet you at the airport and drive you to our Volunteer Accommodation. Just look out for the African Impact sign!

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SAFETY

On arrival you’ll have a comprehensive induction to prepare you for project work, the local culture, people and wildlife; and of course, how to stay safe!

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STAFF

24/7 support: Our base teams are on hand every day to make sure you have the most amazing and memorable time in Africa.

Program Experience

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Recommended activities in Zimbabwe

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MUTEMWA MOUNTAIN

If you enjoy hiking then look no further than the majestic Mutemwa Mountain, beckoning passionate hikers with its breathtaking vistas and rich cultural significance. Mutemwa Mountain is considered a sacred place by the local people and is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike. The mountain is home to several shrines and caves that are said to have spiritual significance. If you’re an adventurer at heart, we can happily arrange a trip for you on the weekends.

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VICTORIA FALLS

The mighty Zambezi River beckons with exhilarating activities: cruise its vast expanse, battle the rapids on a white-water rafting expedition, or explore hidden waterways on a tranquil canoe trip. Feeling truly adventurous? Take the plunge with a heart-stopping bungee jump or soar through the gorge on a thrilling swing – all within easy reach of the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.

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MAKWE CAVES TRIP

Explore a national monument that is a treasure trove of ancient history. Marvel at the intricate rock art paintings, whispering stories of life from over 2000 years ago. Thanks to Imire’s special relationship with the local chief, you’ll be among the privileged few granted access to this sacred site. Know that your rhino and elephant volunteer program doesn’t just enrich your personal journey; it also directly benefits the surrounding community, ensuring the preservation of this cultural heritage for generations to come.

PROJECT APPLICATION

SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION

After completing the below application form, one of our Destination Specialists will get in touch to discuss your volunteer experience and any questions you may have. When you are ready to book, we will send you a booking form after which a deposit will be required to secure your position.

STEP 1

Personal Information

STEP 2

When do you want to Volunteer or Intern?

(Optional)

Give us an idea of your travel plans, you can also say ‘I’m not sure yet.’ 
We’ll take it from there.

STEP 3

How long do you want to Volunteer or Intern for?

(Optional)

Select your preferred duration(s). The African Impact team recommend at least 4 weeks for a truly memorable experience!

PRICE

From $1435 per week.

PROJECT FEE INCLUDES

  • Cottage style accommodation with swimming pool
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (Mon – Sun)
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • All project transport, equipment and resources
  • Support from experienced local and international staff
  • Full orientation for responsible project contribution

PROJECT FEE EXCLUDES

  • Price excludes flights, visas, insurance, weekend tours and personal expenses

Horse Riding, Elephant & Rhino Conservation Volunteer Program FAQs

WHAT RIDING EXPERIENCE DO I NEED?

Our horse riding conservation volunteer programme is for experienced riders only and there are no riding lessons. You should be able to saddle your own horse, undertake a rising trot and canter, and be confident in riding over uneven terrain. There is a weight limit of 80kg for all equine volunteers. Participants are also required to have experience in riding for long periods (2+ hours).

Conservation volunteers and their contributions of time, energy and passion are critical to the survival of small conservancies like Imire, who receive no government investment or support and rely on the support of private individuals and organizations to continue to do their vital rhino conservation work day-to-day.

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