Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary

Zimbabwe

Join a small team of dedicated vets and conservationists at this incredibly rewarding, family-run animal rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary in rural Zimbabwe.

Work alongside the trustees of the centre as you live and work at the sanctuary, which offers a safe haven to a wide variety of wildlife plus farm animals, birds and lots of dogs and cats! Animals at the sanctuary have been rescued from all over Zimbabwe either by the dedicated team or through a network of conservationists. From lions to serval cats, donkeys to owls, their beloved animal family will live the lives they deserve whilst in the sanctuary’s care.

This wildlife sanctuary volunteer programme is in a small, family-run centre where you will live alongside permanent staff and get involved in their day-to-day activities, whether it be feeding and vaccinating up to 50 local dogs at the clinic each week, sitting with and monitoring lions or helping with injured or traumatised animals and birds. You will be given your own project or animal to work with during your stay which is an incredible rewarding and fulfilling experience.

While this project does have lions, they are not handled by staff or volunteers, nor are they bred. Some of these lions came to the sanctuary from tourist facilities which ran lion walks, where they had become too old and were too habituated to ever be released and were too expensive to be kept. Others were rescued from farmers who had captured them on their land and others still from irresponsible captive breeders. The lions at this programme are cared for with a strictly hands-off policy but are fed by volunteers who are also responsible for habitat enrichment and exercise.

The sanctuary has a strict hands-off policy when it comes to other animals that can eventually be released back into the wild once they have recovered from their injuries or trauma.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Anyone aged 18 years and over. Family Volunteering available on request!
Vet students - get experience in a local vet clinic plus vet outreach projects.
How long can I stay for: 2 - 8 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 1 hour
Pick up from: Harare
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Project numbers: 4-5
Start dates: Any Monday throughout the year (flexible arrivals)
How much: from $1,295 (2 weeks)

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT

The programme is a personal and hands on experience for animal lovers who want to be involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of African animals, from meerkats to monkeys, bush babies to bats, eagles and owls. You will work alongside the dedicated sanctuary team and your work as a volunteer in crucial to the sanctuary's operation and the care and well-being of their beloved animals.

Background

This wildlife sanctuary was established at it’s current site in 2011, and the owners previously ran another sanctuary in Zimbabwe for more than 15 years. They moved their animals from the old sanctuary, which was no longer suitable, to the new premises, a 70 hectare piece of stunning indigenous bush veld about 1 hour from Harare.

Sarah and Dr Vinay are conservationists and Vinay is also a practicing veterinarian who runs their veterinary outreach programme in the rural communities, as well as travelling around Zimbabwe carrying out vaccination and spaying programmes and animal rescue. Sarah is a passionate conservationist and runs the sanctuary on a day to day basis, living on site next to the volunteer house.

The animals at the sanctuary have come from across Zimbabwe - there are dogs which have been rescued from Hwange National Park, orphaned and abandoned monkeys which are brought to Sarah from the local area, duiker, bush babies, 34 tortoises and a multitude of injured birds. Most animals are rehabilitated and released, but some either cannot because they are too habituated to humans, or just won't leave - like Gizmo and Bill, the bush babies, who leave to go about their business every evening and return in the morning - taking full advantage of luxurious hotel accommodation!

This sanctuary is all about creating a forever home for the animals and birds who are brought under its roof and the work it does in this part of Zimbabwe is very well-respected.

Highlights

This sanctuary is all about creating a forever home for the animals and birds who are brought under its roof and the work it does in this part of Zimbabwe is very well-respected and appreciated.

  • Join a family-run team in their daily care of a wide variety of large and small animals
  • Work with rescued lions in a responsible way and learn about the threats they face from irresponsible tourism
  • Join veterinary staff in rural vet clinics and outreach services
  • Help with animals rescued from domestic situations including pet monkeys and tortoises
  • Work on enrichment projects to keep the animals happy and healthy
  • Hand-rear orphaned babies
  • Look after the free-roaming animals including serval, duiker and monkeys
  • Help release smaller animals around the property
  • Work on bird rescue and rehabilitation
  • Take local schoolchildren around the sanctuary and help with their conservation lessons
  • Undertake essential (and seemingly never-ending) maintenance and building around the sanctuary

What sort of things will I be doing?

You will be responsible for the daily care and feeding of the animals which are at the wildlife sanctuary plus go on snare and fence patrols to check for evidence of small poaching. Your days will be very busy as you get involved in absolutely everything which goes on!

Small animal care:

  • Prepare meals for animals in the mornings and evenings - this might be dry food and fruit for monkeys or you might need to go our and collect browse for the bush babies
  • Feed the reptiles and check on their enclosures
  • Clean out enclosures and cages and refill water bowls
  • Clean wounds and tend to injured animals
  • Sit with older and sick animals, monitor their health and behaviour and reassure them with your presence.
  • Help settle newly rescued animals into their rehabilitation enclosures which are in the garden of the volunteer house
  • Bottle feed small orphans and keep them warm (this is often a nighttime duty as well as you babysit tired monkeys!)
  • Try and keep track of 34 tortoises
  • Help with domestic animal rescue - currently there are 12 dogs and numerous cats in residence at the sanctuary

Lion care:

  • Help with habitat enrichment for rescued lions to keep them healthy and active
  • Exercise younger animals to keep their weight down
  • Monitor their behaviour and interactions
  • Prepare food and help with feeding (often a dirty and noisy task!)
  • Marvel at Ben the lion’s various incredible natural hairstyles

Building and maintenance:

  • Fix and maintain rehabilitation and night enclosures
  • Check the lion enclosures and secure
  • Build new enclosures for rescued animals and birds (unfortunately a never-ending task)
  • Help repair roads and paths

Veterinary outreach:
The sanctuary provides a Wednesday community outreach clinic where dogs in the local area can come with the owners to be vaccinated, spayed and given a general health check. Some dogs come unaccompanied because they know they will get a free meal!

  • Prepare the food for the clinic, which feeds up to 500 dogs every Wednesday
  • Help veterinary staff prepare for injections and help with health-checks
  • Veterinary students can get very involved with rounds and help is always needed with de-worming, dipping and sterilising dogs.

Habitat enrichment:

  • Build activity centres for primates to enable them to run, jump and climb
  • Make toys for the primates to stimulate foraging

Wildlife conservation activities:

  • Patrol the boundary of the farm and check for snares
  • Learn to track and identify animals
  • Enjoy hiking through the park or relaxing with the older animals with a book
  • Get to know local people and experience a new way of life
  • Help with conservation lessons in the local school

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily.

The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

We welcome volunteers aged over 18 who have a passion and interest in animal welfare and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. Experience in many fields is useful, such as veterinary, animal care, marketing and photography - and if you have any of these skills you may be put to good use! You should be of reasonable mobility and fitness and if you have any concerns about things you can and can’t do, please just let us know.

If you have experience in or are studying Veterinary Science and would like to spend more time on that side of the project, this can be arranged and is very welcome! People with building skills are always welcomed with open arms as there is almost constant construction and repair work to be done.

A rabies vaccination is required prior to your arrival on the project.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is a collection from Harare International Airport or another location within Harare, transfer to the sanctuary and return transfers when your project is finished.

A day in the life

Your volunteer day starts around 6.30am with tea in the volunteer house. You will then prepare morning food for the primates, herbivores, small mammals and reptiles and make your breakfast deliveries around the sanctuary - the animals will be very pleased to see you!
While they are eating you will clean out their enclosures and make sure their water is fresh.

At around 9.30 you will break for your own breakfast. Mornings are usually spent doing habitat enrichment for the baboons and monkeys but you may also need to collect fresh browse for the bush babies and other herbivores or help repair damaged enclosures.

After lunch you might do a snare patrol around the boundary or walk the fence line learning about the different tracks which you see and learning about animal behaviour. You might be sent to sit with a traumatised or injured animal who needs reassurance, or to look after one of the newly rescued animals and help them settle in.

At 5pm you will need to prepare meat for the nocturnal predators and twice a week you will need to feed the lions. This is a dirty but very essential task and the sound of lions roaring is an iconic African sounds.

You will be very busy during your stay and volunteers should be flexible about working hours as you may need to be on night shift with injured animals who might need round the clock care. Volunteers are also responsible for the orphans who live in the volunteer house at night including monkeys, duiker and serval!

As with any wildlife sanctuary project, activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. 

Combination Projects

We highly recommend making the most out of your trip to Africa and consider combining two or more volunteer projects. You could start and finish in the same place (Harare to Harare) or use it as an opportunity to get from one country to another (e.g. Zimbabwe to Namibia).

This project works especially well with our Hands-on Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme which is located approximatley 2 hours from Harare and will give you an awesome interactive experience with endangered black rhinos and iconic African elephants.

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin this Animal Rescue programme on any Monday throughout the year excluding Christmas and New Year.

Project pricing 2017:
2 weeks - $1,295
3 weeks - $1,945
4 weeks - $2,525
5 weeks - $3,125
6 weeks - $3,725
8 weeks - $4,875

(extensions available on request - each additional week $600, to a maximum of 12 weeks)

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs etc
  • Transfers to and from Harare International Airport to the project on a Monday
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. any snacks, alcoholic or fizzy drinks from the bar)
  • Three meals per day
  • Wireless internet (small weekly charge)
  • Full 24 hour support and training from your sanctuary staff during your stay
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work

The programme cost excludes:

  • Flights or travel to Harare
  • Visas fees on arrival (variable depending on nationality)
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Excursions outside of those planned by the project
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet

View our booking terms and conditions

Accommodation

Accommodation

Your home on this project is in a spacious farmhouse style property in the heart of the sanctuary - the rehabilitation enclosures are in the garden! There is full housekeeping service including laundry (detergent is provided) and the house has a swimming pool and large verandah. Inside there are two double rooms, one single room and two bathrooms. Bed linen and towels are supplied

You will receive three meals per daywhile you are on the project, prepared by our resident cook, and there are always soft drinks, tea and coffee available in the house. Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can usually be accommodated - please just let us know on your booking form! There is a small bar, with alcohol generally available during weekly socials where staff and volunteers relax and enjoy the sunny Zimbabwe days.

There is reasonable cell phone signal and limited wifi internet access can be purchased on site.

Leisure 

The animals are fed every day including Sundays but you will get time off over the weekend to relax and enjoy the sun and the pool! The project runs weekend excursions to local places of interest such as Lake Chivero National Park, home to a good population of white rhino, and Domboshawa, an ancient granite hill with well-preserved rock paintings and amazing views! These one day excursions are included in your project fee.

There is also the opportunity to go to the markets in Harare (1 hour) to go shopping and buy souvenirs.

No trip to Zimbabwe is complete without a trip to Victoria Falls - the largest sheet of falling water in the world. We can arrange weekend trips to the Falls where, in addition to enjoying the majestic waterfall, you can enjoy bungee jumps, white water rafting, river cruises and game drives. 

Family Volunteers

Volunteering with your family? This project is perfect!

If you would like to join a family volunteer programme and bring your children to enjoy this amazing experience, then this project is very happy to accommodate your group privately. It is very suitable for children of all ages as they can safely get involved with most activities. 

Family volunteer groups will be taken as a private booking when there are no other volunteers. We find that this works best to ensure that everyone has the most productive time.

The minimum age for a child volunteering with their family on this project is 8 years old. 

Example family volunteer pricing at this project:
1 adult and 1 child (aged up to 12)
2 weeks $2,045

1 adult and 2 children (aged up to 12)
2 weeks $3,040

2 adults and 2 children (aged up to 12)
2 weeks $4,090

Children aged 12 and over will be charged adult rates.

For more Family Volunteer Projects in Africa, please take a look at our designated family-friendly programmes!

Please enquire for more detailed prices.

Vets & Students

The project trustees have a public veterinary practice in Harare, which enables them to offer veterinary experience to volunteers. 

Solo travellers

If you are a pre-vet student, studying vet science or animal care, or you are a professional animal care worker and you would like to get some wildlife healthcare experience in Zimbabwe, please let us know when booking.

You will be able to join the veterinary practice in Harare for one day per week where you can observe clinic, get involved in general health checks, assist in minor surgical procedures and help with the animals who are staying at the practice.

In addition, you will get involved in the project's weekly outreach clinic, where animals are brought to the Sanctuary from the rural community for health checks, vaccinations, spaying and wound checking. Every animal who comes to the clinic also gets a free meal, so you can be dealing with literally hundreds of dogs a week! You will assist in the pre-surgery care of any dogs (or other animals) who are kept at the Sanctuary prior to going to Harare for operations.

Student or Veterinary Groups

The project is perfect for small groups of vet students or professionals who are travelling together and want to either improve their practical skills or share their knowledge. For group bookings the project will run a bespoke project which will aim to include areas of interest to the students as well as activities of benefit to the Sanctuary and local area.

This could include:

  • A mass sterilisation campaign for rural dogs where students can do the pre-op preparation, monitor anaesthetics and do post operative care. There are usually very interesting cases during these campaigns .
  • Visits to the local villages to check on dogs once they are home, which is a very interesting cultural experience, as well as providing veterinary aftercare
  • Ambulatory vet work on local farms
  • Observations within the veterinary practice (rotation)
  • Rescue and transfer of orphaned, abused or abandoned animals from around the region

Sanctuary work will include the normal wildlife care and rehabilitation and assistance with any wildlife veterinary work which arises. There is a diversity of animals which are treated by the Sanctuary and the vet, so vet volunteers will get great hands-on experience of all types of wildlife, both indigenous and exotic.

The maximum group size would be 6-7 people and we would recommend a minimum two week stay, with four weeks being ideal.

Please enquire for details!

Zimbabwe

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa as our founders were all born and still live there. Zimbabwe is often in the international news for the wrong reasons but the reality is quite different and tourism is beginning to grow again in one of Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt countries.

The country offers something for every traveller - from the absolute wilderness of Gonarezhou and Mana Pools to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s adventure capital,  Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is rich in colour and the people have retained their resolve, sense of humour and friendliness.

No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Mosi-au-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders) is accepted to have the largest sheet of falling water in the world (1,708m wide and 108m high) and is located on the far western tip of Zimbabwe on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a also lively centre for adventure. For white water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December) - these rapids have often been referred to as the best one-day white water rafting in the world.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange must be on everyones To Do list.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its wildness and beauty together with its wide range of large mammals and birdlife. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km, from the Kariba Dam to the Mozambique border, which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area. It is the only National Park where visitors are allowed to walk unaccompanied by a guide.

Lake Kariba: the world’s third largest man-made lake offers spectacular elephant and buffalo sitings on its shores as well as being home to the ferocious tiger fish! Take the 24-hour ferry from Milibizi on the southern tip to Kariba town in the north and witness the beauty of remotest Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age, in around the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Nyanga: Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is home to rolling green hills, majestic waterfalls and the country’s highest peak, Mount Inyangani. A tranquil retreat from the heat of the Lowveld, Nyanga is a haven for bird-lovers and hikers and is also home to rivers ideal for tubing and canoeing.


What will the weather be like?

During the Zimbabwe summer (September - April) temperatures at the project will average 27-29°c. Volunteers should bring lightweight clothing in neutral colours (not white), a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sunglasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and sturdy closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket and a fleece or jumper is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 15-20°c.

During winter (May - mid-August) daytime temperatures average 24-26°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings can get down to 7-10°c (and it has been known to frost!) so volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for early mornings with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

We also find that it is useful for volunteers to bring a spare pair of closed shoes in case yours get wet / dirty / full of mud..volunteering can be messy!

Book Now

Drop us an email to enquire about availability and reserve your place!

Go to our contact form.

Project Gallery - Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary

Testimonials

Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary I chose this project because there was not a lot of volunteers taken and it looked more personal. When I got there, I knew had I made the right decision! I did so many things - feeding animals, spending time with them, helping the sick ones, assisting the vets at the clinic in neutering, helping at the community dog days, bringing dogs back to the villages and going on excursions. The volunteer house was very comfortable ... Karin T, Switzerland Read More
Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary Raising a baby Vervet Monkey Submitted by Emma R | March 2016 The whole experience was such a positive one, but I must say helping rescued animals get back to full health and fitness and being able to release them back into the wild had to be the most rewarding thing about the whole trip. Getting hands on with all sorts of different animals was the most amazing experience and all the staff members were absolutely lovely ... Emma R, Scotland Read More
Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary Never a Dull Moment Submitted by Cecilia S | February 05, 2016 For the first time in a very long time, I’m in a state of FOMO – fear of missing out. From day one of being here, I’ve learned that we are here to give these beautiful animals a second chance at life. It broke my heart to hear some of their stories, but at the same time, I felt so privileged to be ... Cecilia S, USA Read More
Zimbabwe Animal Rescue Sanctuary Practicing Veterinary Skills in a fantastic environment! Submitted by Christina Z - | November 04, 2015 My time at this project was absolutely fantastic – words cannot describe it! The people there was so kind to me, and I felt very good from day one – they were always very helpful if I needed help or had any kind of problems. I really appreciated that! I had the change to be a part of the veterinary work by ... Christina Z, Denmark Read More

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