ENDANGERED BLACK RHINO & ELEPHANT CONSERVATION
Passionate about conservation and want to contribute towards saving some 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.
Wildlife in Africa is under threat from illegal poaching, over-population, and habitat loss. Conservancies like Imire play a vital role in both protecting and propagating these endangered species, to ensure viable wildlife populations and genetics continue to exist.
Responsible volunteering in Africa is a chance to travel with a true purpose. As an Imire volunteer, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work hands-on with incredible wildlife, side-by-side with conservation experts, and within local communities. Volunteers play a key role in protecting the wildlife, and also develop deeper intercultural understanding and empathy, through working in the vibrant community, alongside friendly and like-minded people.
Volunteering at Imire makes a real difference to wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe. Volunteers are involved with the first-hand care of endangered rhinos and elephants, conduct important research on the behaviours of all wildlife in the conservancy, get involved in anti-poaching efforts, conservancy management and maintenance, and undertake conservation awareness and education initiatives 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.
You will be comfortably accommodated while volunteering at Imire. Group sizes are a maximum of 12 volunteers. Rooms are shared and include comfortable single beds with bedding. *Room conﬁguration is at the discretion of Imire management. Showers and toilet facilities at Imire are shared and have hot, running water. Power sockets for electrical items are available in communal areas.
Three home-cooked meals are provided daily on a self-serve basis. Water at Imire is pumped from a borehole and is safe and clean for drinking. Vegetarian and limited vegan options are available. Please note this project is unable to cater for very specific dietary needs (for example gluten, dairy or wheat intolerance) so should you need them you will be required to bring any specialist foods along with you, which chefs can prepare alongside standard meals.
The official languages of Zimbabwe are Shona and English. Most people speak fluent English. The cell-phone signal at Imire is variable and intermittent, and the 3G 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.
Summer (October – 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. Winter (May – September): winter 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 woolly hat, and long trousers as the mornings can also get very chilly. Tracksuit trousers and warm pyjamas are essential from May - September!
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
BLACK RHINO AND ELEPHANT CONSERVATION
This will be one of your greatest experiences volunteering with animals abroad. You will feed and walk with the rhinos, maintain and clean the rhino beds and also be involved in observing and collecting data on the behavior and social interaction of these animals. You will undertake essential anti-poaching and snare patrols, maintain and clean the elephant beds and observe their family interactions.
MONITORING AND RESEARCH
Monitoring the wild animals, game counts and research are vital to help create an effective management plan for the reserve and to decide on what conservation initiatives need to happen. You will monitor animals and record information by taking notes on water dependency, interaction with own species and others, competition within and between species, as well as dominance and hierarchy.
ON-SITE CONSERVANCY DUTIES
In order to ensure the best possible environment for the longevity of the animals at the reserve you may have to get your hands dirty and build up some muscle! Maintenance of game fences, roads, fireguards, pens, stalls and equipment may form part of your duties as well as building and maintaining bush camps, tree planting and bush clearance.
This project also involves assisting in a local primary and secondary rural community school. Your voluntary teaching skills will be required to teach skills of self-sufficiency, English reading and language lessons, educating rural children and their parents on vegetable gardens and cropping using a permaculture method, and teaching the children the value of conserving wild animals.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Elephant & Rhino Conservation Africa
Where will I be volunteering for the conservation of elephants and rhinos?
Our rhino and elephant conservation projects take place at Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa. Imire is only 90 minutes away from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Imire is a family run conservancy and is focused on protecting endangered species like rhinos and elephants. While volunteering at Imire, you will stay at comfortable accommodation at the conservancy with other volunteers.
What is my role as a volunteer for the conservation of elephants and rhinos?
As a volunteer, you will observe and research the behaviour of rhinos, elephants, and other endangered animals on safari drives around the conservancy. You will gain hands-on experience working with conservation experts and the local community to help protect wildlife, get involved in anti-poaching efforts, and assist in conservation awareness and education projects.
What will a typical day as a volunteer look like?
Your typical day as a volunteer at Imire will begin around 6.30am in the morning and end in the afternoon around 5pm. Activities during the day include feeding, spending time with the rhinos and elephants around the conservancy, assisting with projects, completing anti-poaching tasks, and going on local game drives. You will be volunteering from Monday to Friday. There may be some planned activities for the evenings and weekends, but the rest of your time is up to you.
What is the Elephant and Rhino Conservation Project about?
The Rhino and Elephant Conservation Project in Imire, Zimbabwe is focused on protecting endangered species and ensuring wildlife populations in Africa continue to exist. The project promotes responsible volunteering and offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with wildlife up close, support community efforts, anti-poaching activities, and protect important species.
How will I be contributing towards the project?
There are several ways you will be contributing towards the Rhino and Elephant Conservation Project in Imire. During the project, you will conduct research about rhinos and elephants, learn about the management of the conservancy, complete on-site conservancy duties, care for the animals, get involved in anti-poaching efforts, and teach the local community self-sufficiency, English, and the importance of the conservation of wild animals.
You can go on game drives through the reserve to spot wildlife or try something completely different and go on a horseback safari. Horse riding safaris are available on Saturday mornings for 2 hours, pending availability of horses and volunteer numbers.
Volunteers can visit local cultural sites to learn about Zimbabwean culture and traditions. Head to the capital city of Harare to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the markets on shopping trips.
Having come all the way to Zimbabwe, it will be a shame not to take a short trip to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Victoria Falls will leave you in awe of its sheer power, volume, and magnificent scenery, but also invite you to partake in a multitude of adventure activities including white-water rafting, canoeing, bungee jumping, zip-lining, and abseiling.
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.