Conservancy & Rehabilitation Experience

Zimbabwe

Combine rhino and elephant conservation with small animal care and primate rehabilitation in Zimbabwe. Experience life in a 10,000 acre conservancy dedicated to black rhino protection, and work in a sanctuary focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of primates.

Split your time between two amazing projects and get a rounded experience of large and small animal conservation.

Project one is based in Eastern Zimbabwe, at a family run game reserve, home to free-roaming black and white rhino, elephants, buffalo and a variety of plains game. Your role as a volunteer is to work alongside the conservancy team in their daily care of the rhinos, elephants and other animals under their protection. You will get involved with animal monitoring, game counts, anti-poaching and community education programmes. You will also learn from experienced rangers about wildlife conservation and the battle which Africa's animals face to survive.

Your second programme is in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, at a dedicated primate rehabilitation centre. Volunteers are critical to the daily care and well-being of all the animals at the sanctuary, which has an open-door policy to all wildlife, birds and reptiles. You will assist the animal care team with food preparation, feeding, rehabilitation work and animal enrichment - to encourage the development of natural behaviours.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Anyone aged 17 years and over (families on request)
How long can I stay for: 2 - 16 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer house - twin rooms / dormitory
Pick up from: Harare / Bulawayo
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Project numbers: 4 - 12
Start dates: Mondays
How much: from $1,995 (2 weeks including transfers)

 

“This was my first time volunteering and it was definitely the best place I could have chosen. The close contact with the elephant and rhino was totally a unique experience – memorable in itself, but made more so by the interactions with the handlers, who spend so much time tracking and watching over these fantastic and amazing animals. I feel so privileged to have shared in what the reserve is working hard to achieve.” - Ann, UK

What you'll be doing

Project 1 - Rhino & Elephant Conservation

Volunteers on this project are closely involved in the daily care of black and white rhino and elephants, plus a variety of other wildlife including lion, buffalo, giraffe and zebra. Based within a 10,000 acre private conservancy, volunteers get involved in all aspects of reserve management, including game counts, animal feeding, patrols and maintenance. 

The project is dedicated to the protection and security of all the animals within its boundaries, and is passionate about long term rhino conservation.

Volunteers will get involved with:

Rhino and elephant conservation activitiesobserve and record animal behaviour; feed and walk with the rhinos and elephants, and learn about their survival challenges; support the project's rhino breeding and release programme and maintain excellence in elephant conservation.

Anti-poaching and security: go on foot, vehicle and horseback patrols in vulnerable areas of the park; repair and build fences; train with the dedicated Anti-Poaching Unit.

Conservancy management: provide daily assistance to the Reserve Manager to ensure its successful operation; carry out feed deliveries; assist in game counts; reforesting; road, river and fireguard maintenance.

Community education: the heart of this project is community. Volunteers give additional primary school lessons and encourage children to appreciate the importance of living in harmony with wildlife.

For more details of the Rhino & Elephant Conservation project, visit the full project page.

 

Project 2 - Primate Conservation

Baboons and monkeys are often-overlooked victims of the human-wildlife conflict, losing their natural habitat to over-grazing, agricultural expansion and the growth of human settlements. Their biggest predators are humans and they are often treated as vermin, being shot or poisoned for eating crops and small livestock.

This project is dedicated to the rehabilitation and eventual release of orphaned, abandoned and injured primates, with a mission for there to be no captive primates in Zimbabwe.

Volunteers will get involved with every aspect of animal care; including:

Animal care: help raise baby primates, help with food preparation and enclosure cleaning. Work hands-on with all the animals at the sanctuary, from bush babies to zebra, klipspringer and ostrich!

Behaviour enrichment: go on bush walks and stimulate natural behavioiur and exploring; build and maintain enrichment toys and playgrounds and work with animals who cannot be released.

Rehabilitation and release: be part of individual animal rehabilitation and release programmes; join the vet team when releases are carried out and monitor released animals.

Community outreach: help run educational tours and activity days for schoolchildren; assist with making teaching materials

For more details of the Primate Conservation project, visit the full project page.

Itinerary

This combination project is a minimum two week programme, with the first week usually spent at the Rhino & Elephant Programme, and the second week at the Primate Conservation Programme.

Day 1 (Monday) - arrive into Zimbabwe and transfer to the Rhino & Elephant Programme

Arrive into Harare and transfer by car to the conservancy (approximately 2 hours). Have a full orientation and briefing, meet the team and other volunteers, and, if there is time, go on a game drive.

Days 2 - 6 (Tuesday - Saturday lunchtime)

Each working day is split into three parts: an activity before breakfast, one after breakfast and one after lunch.

You will interact daily with either the reserve's rhino or elephants (sometimes with both) and do at least one other activity in the game park - which could be a snare patrol, game count, horse ride, maintenance or anti-poaching training. Twice a week volunteers visit the local school or community, to give extra English lessons, play sports and help with homework. You will also spend time learning about Shona culture and may get the opportunity to visit a rural village and spend an afternoon experiencing life in the local community.

Day 7 (Sunday)

Saturday afternoon and Sunday is at leisure, and you can spend your time hiking, go on a nature walk, go fishing or canoeing on the dam or relax by the pool at the volunteer house.

Day 8 (Monday) - transfer to the Primate Conservation Programme

Early departure from the conservancy to catch the bus to Bulawayo at 0730. You will arrive into Zimbabwe's second city at lunchtime and transfer to the sanctuary. On arrival you will meet the team, get settled into your accommodation and then go and meet your new animal friends (the deaf Dalmations will probably already be in your room)!

Days 9 - 13 (Tuesday - Saturday lunchtime)

Volunteers begin each day at around 7am preparing food, cleaning enclosures, replenishing water and feeding animals. You will also conduct daily bush walks with the baboons - an essential part of rehabilitation as it teaches them to forage and explore as a group. You may also check the boundary fences, remove traps and snares, plant new trees and collect litter. Certain animals are fed mid-morning and most are fed every evening as well. Other activities might include sitting with the baby baboons and monkeys, looking after the orphans, hunting for browse (and grasshoppers!), checking water and making enrichment toys. You will also have traditional cooking lessons, learn to make a braai and some evenings you may also be required to feed the nocturnal bushbabies, or give a tiny baboon a late night bottle.

Day 14 (Sunday)

Saturday afternoon and Sundays are at leisure, and there is plenty of opportunity for exploring Bulawayo (home to one of Africa's finest Natural History Museums), the neighboring Matopos National Park, visiting Victoria Falls or going to Hwange National Park.

Day 15 (Monday) - departure

Either depart for home from Bulawayo Airport, or head to Harare on the bus for your onward travel.

Accommodation

For details of your accommodation, please see the individual project pages:

Rhino & Elephant Conservation

Primate Conservation

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

The projects both run from January through to the end of November. Volunteers should aim to arrive and leave on a Monday.

Project pricing

2019 pricing for this combination project is as follows (all prices in USD):

2 weeks (one week on each): $1,995
4 weeks (two weeks on each): $3,695
6 weeks (three weeks on each): $5,125
8 weeks (four weeks on each): $6,675

Longer lengths are available up to a maximum of 8 weeks on each.

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programmes you are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers from Harare and from Bulawayo Airport / city
  • Return bus transfer between Harare and Bulawayo
  • Accommodation and meals as stated
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air to and from Harare or Bulawayo
  • Visas
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, 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 additional 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

FAQs

Who should volunteer on this combination programme?

Both projects are wonderful experiences for volunteers of all ages, where you will experience Africa in a safe, family environment and become part of a very special team, caring for Africa's wildlife. This combination project is perfect for first time volunteers, mature travellers and anyone who wants to contribute to large and small animal conservation.

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age for participation is 16 years. Volunteers aged 17 must supply a signed letter of consent from their parents or legal guardians, and be aware of the rules concerning unaccompanied minor travellers through South Africa (if applicable - click here for more details).

When can I arrive?

Arrivals and departures are on a Monday unless otherwise agreed.

How do I transfer between programmes?

Included in the price of your project is a car transfer from the Rhino & Elephant project to the bus terminal in Harare; a return bus ticket from Harare to Bulawayo, and car transfer from the bus terminal in Bulawayo to the Sanctuary.

It is possible to fly from Harare to Bulawayo on Air Zimbabwe (approximately $90 each way) - if you choose to do this, your flight is for your own account, but transfers to and from each airport is included.

For more FAQs, please visit the individual project pages:

 

Project Gallery - Conservancy & Rehabilitation Experience

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