HORSE RIDING AND HANDS-ON RHINO & ELEPHANT CONSERVATION
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.
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 pajamas are essential from May - September!
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
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.
WORK WITH ELEPHANTS
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.
ANTI-POACHING AND SECURITY
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.
GAME PARK MANAGEMENT
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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Horse Riding Safari Africa
How can I go horse riding in Africa?
It's one thing to spend time in the African wild. But embarking on a horse-riding expedition through Africa is on a whole other level. Combining incredible riding opportunities with unforgettable wildlife encounters and breathtaking vistas, exploring Africa on horseback is an incredible experience. If you are an experienced rider eager to make an impact in Africa, then joining African Impact on the Horse-riding and Hands-on Rhino and Elephant Conservation project is the right opportunity for you!
Why horse riding in Africa is a great experience
Your horse ride in the Zimbabwean bush isn't just about the experience but also the impact. As you ride with us, you'll contribute to sustainable wildlife conservation goals in the area by participating in endangered rhino protection, elephant conservation, and anti-poaching efforts. If you're a passionate horse lover, this project is for you. During this wildlife conservation volunteer project, you'll spend time each weekday riding through the golden grasslands of Zimbabwe. It's an experience like no other and something that words can do little justice to. Horse-riding in Africa is magical and something you can truly only understand if you give it a try!
Why you should choose horse riding in Africa
Africa boasts some of the world's most beautiful and diverse landscapes, making it an incredible adventure for any keen horse rider. With rocky mountain terrain, lush rainforests, sandy deserts, rolling green hills, and endless golden grasslands scattered all across the continent, the opportunities for epic rides around Africa are endless.
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.