Photography and Film Internship

Zimbabwe

Calling all photographers! Volunteer with rhinos and elephants and use your photography skills to showcase the project's fantastic wildlife. Think creatively as you capture the volunteer experience through photographs and short videos.

This internship is run alongside the Hands-on Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme in Zimbabwe. You will join volunteers on the project and participate in their daily activities. Your role as an intern will also be to capture video and photographic footage of the volunteers and photograph the animals and landscapes for use on social media and in marketing material.

This photography internship combines practical wildlife and human photography with hands-on conservation work in the game park, as you join volunteers on the Hands-on Rhino & Elephant Programme. Volunteers contribute to elephant and rhino research, walk with the endangered black rhino, learn to track and identify a variety of large and small animals, go on anti-poaching patrols and get involved in collecting observational data for ongoing research projects. Your role as an intern will be to use your creativity to capture on video as well as still photographs, the work the volunteers do and also the amazing animals and landscape in and around the game park.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Volunteers aged over 18 years with photographic experience
How long can I stay: 2 weeks - 8 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 2 hours
Pick up from: Harare
Meals: 3 meals a day
Project numbers: 12
Start dates: Any Monday throughout the year 
How much: from $700 (1 week)

Background

The game park was established in the 1950s as a maize, tobacco and cattle farm. During the 1970s game was introduced back onto the land and, like Noah’s Ark, the animals came in two by two. By 1980 the park was home to large herds of plains game - waterbuck, impala, nyala, zebra and the rare sable antelope.

Pioneering elephant studies

In 1980 an orphaned baby elephant from a sanctuary in Harare was offered to the park as it was now too large for their premises. This female elephant, Nzou, was placed with a herd of buffalo, this being the largest herd animal in the park (there were no other elephants at the time). An unknown nuance of elephant behaviour was unwittingly discovered - that they could take on the identity of a species other than their own. Today, despite the best efforts of the park to introduce her to the other four elephants, Nzou continues to live with the buffalo, where she has established herself as the undeniable matriarch of the herd.

Rhino conservation

During the 1980s, a decade which saw some of Zimbabwe’s worst rhino poaching, most of the remaining black rhino in the country were moved out of National Parks into the relative safety of private conservation areas. Since then, 15 black rhino have been born with 11 released back into the Matusadona National Park in the north of Zimbabwe. The government’s release programme was stopped due to excessive poaching and the black rhino again faces extinction.

Volunteers get very involved in rhino monitoring and data collection to learn more about these incredible animals, as well as enabling successful management planning.

In addition to the larger mammals - rhino, elephant, buffalo and lion, volunteers will also get a chance to see spotted hyena, jackal, baboons, vervet monkey, aardvarks, zebra, giraffe, mongoose and a huge variety of birds, reptiles, snakes and frogs.

Highlights

  • Help secure the future of the black rhino and elephant in Zimbabwe
  • Participate in a diverse range of activities from rhino conservation to game counts, anti-poaching patrols, tracking, animal handling and teaching
  • Immerse yourself in the wildlife around you as you live in the heart of a 10,000 acre game park
  • Undertake vital conservation management activities including foreign species removal, tree planting and anti-poaching
  • Learn to track and identify animals and learn about the threats which they face
  • Photograph a wide variety of wildlife in their natural environment
  • Support the community as you teach English literacy to schoolchildren and help with practical conservation education, gardening and sports.
  • Form close bonds with staff, volunteers and the family who own the park - understand the challenges they face on a daily basis
  • Develop your photography and video portfolio as you take pictures around the game park and in the local community

What sort of things will I be doing?

No two days on this project are ever the same and there is usually something unexpected and exciting around the corner! In addition to the activities involved in the Hands-on Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme, you may be asked to interview volunteers on camera, put together video shorts (10s / 30s / 1 minute) of volunteers, wildlife and game park activities and take photographs of a particular non-volunteer activity or a specific animal. You may be set daily and weekly goals of shots to capture or areas the project would like recorded. This could include things like:

Photography

  • Ensure that the project has good pictures of every volunteer who participates
  • Photograph volunteers during their activities in a creative way to inspire new volunteers to visit
  • Capture the unexpected and small things which happen on a daily basis in the wild! This could be things like a dung beetle, warthog, bird, lizard or snake, in addition to the large animals which are present on the reserve
  • Document life around the volunteer house
  • Photograph game park and volunteer programme staff going about their daily duties
  • Photography in the local community and school
  • General wildlife photography

Film

  • Interview volunteers about their time at Imire to inspire potential volunteers - think about what would make YOU want to be a part of the programme
  • Collect footage of the volunteers in action, using your own camera and the project GoPro.  Edit these into short promo videos
  • Film and edit general short (creative!) footage of the animals on the reserve

The general volunteer duties involved with the Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme are:

Black Rhino and Elephant Conservation:
To support the successful black rhino breeding and release programme and maintain excellence in elephant conservation, volunteers collect meaningful data on their behaviour, movements and browsing activities and help educate the local community about the importance of conservation. As a photography intern you will creatively film and photograph the animals and volunteers as they go about their daily activities.

  • Observe and record behaviour and family interactions - get closer than you ever thought possible to these amazing animals
  • Feed, observe an walk with the rhinos and elephants while you carry out your research projects
  • Learn from experienced handlers about the battle these animals face to survive
  • Maintain and clean rhino and elephant beds (the rhinos and elephants are kept in pens at night for security)
  • Repair elephant damage around the game park
  • Cut browse for night time feeds

Anti-poaching and security:
Volunteers play a vital role in ensuring the security of the game park and this area is one of the most important areas of the project. You may also be asked to photograph or interview the game park staff on video so people can learn more about their role on the reserve.

  • Provide additional manpower for anti-poaching foot patrols and snare sweeps in vulnerable areas of the game park
  • Carry out fish netting patrols in one of the many dams on the property
  • Fence building and repair
  • Learn to track big game and recognise different animal spoor
  • Conduct weapons training and anti-poaching training with the park's rangers
  • Communicate anti-poaching and conservation messages to rural school children

Game Park Management:
Get an insight into the running and management of a game reserve and provide daily assistance to the Game Park Manager to ensure its successful operation.

  • Carry out deliveries of feed and nutritional supplements focusing on sable, giraffe, lion and hyena
  • Assist in game counts and herd composition studies
  • Undertake reforesting and the removal of alien species
  • Road maintenance and fireguard building

Community Education:
The heart of this project is its community - no conservation programme can be successful without community education and poverty alleviation. Volunteers spend time in the local school giving additional reading lessons and encouraging children to appreciate the importance of living in harmony with wildlife. Your role as an intern will be to capture the volunteers in the school and photograph the children and teachers, something which they all love!

  • Teach lessons on different animal species to highlight the need and importance of protecting the natural environment, as well as focusing on the plight of the black rhino
  • Give additional reading lessons to make sure children have the best start to their education
  • Help with gardening and teaching about permaculture (organic gardening)
  • Tree planting at the local schools
  • Hands on education in the bush with children on the animals and birds, plus the dangers of using catapults, lighting fires, dropping litter and setting traps

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

Volunteers should have photographic or film experience either in a professional or good amateur capacity. We also welcome applications from photography / media / photo-journalism students who are looking to develop their skills further and get some practical wildlife photography experience. You will be briefed on the type of photography or video which is required at the time, but will also be required to use your initiative to document the volunteer project and the programme’s wildlife in a visually creative and exciting way.
Interns should be able to use photoshop or equivalent photo editing software and be able to put together video shorts (e.g. using iMovie or a similar package). Volunteers would need to provide their own camera equipment, laptop and editing software and a tripod is very useful if you have the space! You must also have an interest in wildlife conservation and be of reasonable fitness.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is a return transfer from Harare - either from Harare International Airport or from another destination within the city.

A day in the life

Volunteers will usually get up around 6.00-6.30am to get started before the day heats up.

Before breakfast head to the rhino pens (which are in the grounds of the volunteer house) and help the rhino handlers let the rhino out into the game park for the day. Armed with your camera, spend two hours walking with the rhino as they begin their day out in the game park. Take pictures in the morning sun and video volunteers walking alongside these magnificent animals.

After a hearty breakfast back at the volunteer house, your task is to locate all the animals in one section of the game park. Mark their locations, note how many there are in the herd, the composition and the health of any babies or pregnant mothers. Photograph the different members of the herd and get creative with your composition and lighting. 

Return to the volunteer house for lunch and have a siesta during the heat of the day. After lunch your job is to go on patrol. You will be given an area of the game park fence to monitor for signs of entry or snares. Remove snares and make any repairs to the fence. Report your findings to the Game Park Manager. Head to Castle Kopje in time for sundowners on top of the rock overlooking the largest dam - the perfect end to a day in the bush and an amazing place for sunset photography!

Enjoy a home-cooked dinner while you chat about the day, write your blogs and check your photographs. An early night is always needed after a hard days work!

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

Interns can begin the Hands-on Rhino & Elephant Conservation programme on any Monday throughout the year excluding Christmas and New Year. The project is closed from 18th December 2017 - 1st January 2018.

Project pricing 2017:

1 week - $700
2 weeks - $1,400

Each additional week - $700

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
- Transfers to and from Harare on the scheduled date and time
- Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. alcoholic and fizzy drinks)
- Practical instruction on wildlife and plant identification as well as spoors, tracking and animal behaviour
- All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
- 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

- Transport by air or bus to Harare
- Visas
- Any expenses prior to your programme start date
- Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, wifi, additional food or souvenirs
- 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 & Leisure

Accommodation

Your home on this project will be a large, thatched, self-contained two-storey house which has a family atmosphere. Situated in the heart of the game park on the shores of the reserve's largest dam, Numwa House is in an idyllic spot with a swimming pool and plenty of opportunities for fishing and canoeing. You will share the house with volunteers on the Horse Riding & Wildlife Conservation Programme.

The volunteer house has three twin rooms and two dormitories - twin rooms can be requested at the time of booking and a double bed is available in one of these rooms.

There are two inside bathrooms, one with bath and one with shower and bath, three inside toilets and, for those hot days, three outside solar showers. There is hot and cold running water for showers, baths and cooking and a borehole with fresh drinking water.

There is a cook and housekeeper who will make sure you are well fed and looked after during your stay. Three meals a day are provided from Monday - Saturday plus tea, coffee, juices and water. On Sundays the volunteers are responsible for cooking for themselves (food is provided) or you can opt to have a three-course dinner cooked for you by chefs at the main lodge (additional charge).

Leisure

Volunteers get one and a half days off per week. For those volunteers who are keen hikers, we can arrange a trip to Wedza Mountain, and for those who are interested in cultural history there are some very old bushman paintings at Markwe Caves (just outside the reserve). During your spare time you can go fishing on the dam, go on nature walks, or relax at the volunteer house by the pool!

We highly recommend that volunteers take an optional excursion to Victoria Falls and experience Africa's Adventure Capital - home to white water rafting, bungee jumps, zip lines, helicopter rides and, of course, the majestic Falls themselves!

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 wild-ness 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 sit-ings 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. Volunteer in Kariba and get involved with Anti-Poaching & Wildlife Management.

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 Imire average 28-30°c. Volunteers should bring light clothing in neutral colours (not white), a wide-brimmed hat, polarised sunglasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 15-20°c.

During winter (May - mid-August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°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 nighttime camping with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

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