The Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy is known worldwide for its black rhino breeding and release programme. The project has helped in rehabilitating black rhino populations decimated by poaching in southern Zimbabwe. The conservancy itself has seen the harm poaching can cause. In 2007, poachers killed three rhinos at the project, including a pregnant female. The conservancy works diligently and passionately to protect and support its own and surrounding wildlife populations.
On the sweeping, 10,000-acre conservancy, wildlife abounds. The bush supports more than 250 bird species, hyenas, honey badgers and illusive bushbabies. Volunteers will live in close proximity to a variety of wildlife, including towering giraffes and impressive buffalos. The project also serves as the home for seven black rhinos, three white rhinos, three elephants and an elderly lion.
Norman Travers founded the farm that would become this place in the 1950s. Twenty years later, he pioneered the integration of cattle ranching, farming and long-term sustainable wildlife management when he branched out into wildlife conservation. Three generations of the Travers family now call the place their home. Judy Travers, the family matriarch, appeared in the 2011 Animal Planet documentary “There’s a Rhino in My House,” which documented her first year rearing one of the project's orphaned rhinos inside her home.
Days are always interesting here! The conservancy’s volunteer programme promises participants an uncommon opportunity to help further wildlife conservation efforts at a family-run African conservancy. Volunteer groups are limited to allow for mingling and more exclusivity with the animals. As a volunteer, you’ll get the chance to savour the natural beauty of Africa while learning about the wildlife central to the experience.
The project runs a diverse programme that allows volunteers the chance to work with rhinos and elephants up-close, to help educate the community, to join anti-poaching efforts and to participate in research projects, among other activities. Volunteers are able to see first-hand the impact their efforts have on conservancy and the community.
The intimacy and connection of the Imire experience sets it apart. The conservancy prides itself on its diverse programme. Volunteers work with animals, help with community projects and in the local school, carry out work around the conservancy and undertake research projects. Learn about the animals, birds and trees which surround you and take a moment to savour the peace and serenity unique to Africa. Every activity that volunteers get involved in makes a difference. You will see first-hand the impact your work has on the conservancy and the community.
No two days at Imire are ever the same -- something unexpected always comes around the corner! Volunteers get involved with most of the following activities, depending on the time of year, the weather and what projects are going on at the time:
• Track black and white rhinos using telemetry
• Assist Imrie’s anti-poaching unit in locating rhinos and observing their behaviours
• Learn all about these amazing animals from experienced anti-poaching rangers and guides
• Walk near rhinos through the bush -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience
Volunteers monitor behaviour to identify patterns and further knowledge about rhinos, which are notoriously difficult to study in the wild. The research is used to predict the way the rhinos will respond to different stimuli and to learn how best to manage the conservancy’s rhino population and habitat. Volunteers also monitor feeding patterns to help prevent over-grazing and over-browsing, to plan rhino movements through the conservancy and to determine if any supplements are needed to ensure the animals have a balanced diet. Imire’s rhinos are collared, and volunteers learn to use a telemetry set and how to identify tracks and signs of rhino movement. The research can be used to assist in improving rhino management techniques across the world.
• Monitor elephant movements and behaviour
• Feed and walk with the elephants and their handlers
• Clean out elephant beds and repair enclosures
Imire is committed to ensuring its elephants have as close to a natural life as possible. The animals are amazing ambassadors for their species and key for helping to educate communities about conservation. Volunteers monitor elephant feeding patterns and repair elephant damage in the conservancy. Walk with elephants in the mornings or evenings, learn about these iconic animals from their knowledgeable handlers and understand the threats they face and what’s being done to protect them. .
Volunteers undertake snare sweeps around the conservancy, looking for evidence of poaching and collecting snares and traps. This minimises small animal poaching and helps the dedicated anti-poaching unit in their daily work to ensure that the conservancy’s large animals are protected. Volunteers ride by horse once a week to monitor the herd off the beaten track and during boundary patrols.
Volunteers also get the opportunity to do weapons training with scouts and Imire’s anti-poaching unit. Using paintball guns to simulate the scouts’ FN rifles, volunteers are taught how to gain familiarity with a weapon. They also join the anti-poaching unit on drills and training. Volunteers have the opportunity to meet with and learn from the experienced K-9 anti-poaching unit and Murwi, a highly trained Dutch Shepherd.
There are approximately 500 people living or working at Imire, including staff members who handle the conservancy, the lodge, the volunteer programme and the farm, plus their families. There are primary and secondary schools just outside the conservancy which Imire supports by sponsoring building projects, furthering conservation education and assisting with extracurricular activities, like sports and school conservation clubs. The conservancy also supports the local Idube Clinic through the provision of medicines and financial donations.
Imire has introduced literacy programmes at two primary schools, where volunteers use an English literacy scheme, approved by the Ministry of Education, aimed at rural African schoolchildren. The material addresses conservation issues in a relevant way. Volunteers also work with school conservation clubs, helping to teach secondary school students practical and theoretical lessons about nature and conservation.
In your free time, you can go fishing and canoeing or relax with a beer after a hard day’s work. On Saturday mornings, you may also get the opportunity to go horseback riding. If you enjoy hiking, Imire can arrange weekend trips to Mutemwa Mountain or visits to see the bushman paintings at the Markwe Caves. You may also choose to visit Imire Lodge for a meal. (Weekend activities are available at a small extra cost.)
No reliable public transportation exists between the conservancy and Harare. If you would like to visit the markets and shops in the city, Imire can arrange a private taxi for you. Speak to your volunteer coordinator for more details.
The Imire Rhino & Elephant conservancy is located approximately 1 to 1,5 hours from Harare airport
Zimbabwe has long been renowned as a premier travel destination. A vibrant country in Southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled of the African countries. From the moment you arrive you will experience the friendliness, hospitality and welcoming nature of the Zimbabwean people, who are keen for tourists to visit so they can show off their beautiful country. With some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa, warm and welcoming people, magnificent and varied scenery – our advice is to come and experience it for yourself!
Accommodations for volunteers at Imire are comfortable. The conservancy hosts a maximum of 12 volunteers at a time. Rooms are shared and furnished with single beds, including bedding (i.e. duvets, pillows and extra blankets for winter). Showers and toilet facilities are shared, and hot water is supplied. Power sockets for electrical items are available in communal areas.
Three home-cooked meals are provided daily on a self-serve basis. Vegetarian and limited vegan options are available upon request. If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, it’s important you let us know before you arrive. Please note, we are unable to cater to very specific dietary needs (for example: gluten, dairy or wheat intolerance), so you will be required to bring any specific foods that you need to fit your diet. If you do, Imire’s chefs can prepare your food alongside the meals of other volunteers.
Water is pumped from a borehole and is safe and clean for drinking.
Imire staff does its utmost to ensure that volunteers of all ages are accommodated appropriately and comfortably. The conservancy uses its regular sites, Chiwawe and Numwa House, to accommodate volunteer families with children aged 14 and over, as well as regular volunteers of all ages. (Please note: Volunteers aged between 14 and 17 must always be accompanied by family members. The minimum age for travellers to visit Imire alone is 17.) Families with children younger than 14 have separate accommodations. Their guide, volunteer activities, meals and trips will be also be separate from those of the regular volunteer group. Please feel free to enquire about family bookings.
This page will guide you on how to book your flights, how transportation to and from Shamwari works and which vaccinations are required for your trip. We also recommend participants download the PDF provided for additional information under “Download info PDF.”
Flights should be booked to Harare International Airport (HRE) and should arrive no later than 1:30 p.m. on Mondays.
Your departing flight from Harare International Airport (HRE) should be booked with departure after 12:00 p.m. on Mondays.
Upon arrival on a Monday, the airport transfer leaves at 2:00 p.m. from Café Espresso in the departure areas of the airport. The transfer to Imire will take around 1,5 hours.
Upon departure on a Monday, the airport transfer will leave the project at around 7am from.
The airport transfer is included in the project fee. However, airport transfer outside the regular schedule will cost 80 USD each way.
We recommend you consult with your doctor to ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations before you trip. Below is an overview of vaccinations that are likely to be recommended:
Rabies - recommended but not required.
Malaria - Imire is located in a low-risk malaria area. It is your choice whether to take anti-malaria prophylactics while on the project.
Yellow Fever - please check with your home country or country of departure for regulations.
Tetanus - highly recommended.
Typhoid - highly recommended.
TB - recommended but not required.
Polio - recommended.
Hepatitis A and B - recommended.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa for the entire length of your trip. Most nationalities, including those within the EU, British, American, Australian and Canadian, should get their visa at the airport upon arrival. Some nationalities will require that your visa is arranged in advance so check with the Zimbabwean embassy in your country of residence to establish your visa requirements well in advance of your trip. Please ensure that you state you are a TOURIST on holiday, not here to work, and ensure that the immigration ofﬁcial gives you a 30-day tourist visa. These can be renewed easily, if required, during your stay.
Costs incurred by Imire for expired visas during your programme must be reimbursed by you.
Please use the following address details for your immigration form: Imire address: Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservation, P.Bag 3750, Marondera
The price of the tourist visa is generally USD$30.
It is mandatory that you have valid travel insurance for your entire trip. The insurance will cover all costs involved with any kind of an emergency or incident, i.e. an air rescue, hospital or medical costs and flights. Please contact your local travel insurance agent, otherwise we can recommend the travel insurer World Nomads: https://www.worldnomads.com/
"This truly is a very special place! not just because of the amazing variety of precious and spectacular wildlife but also because of the gentle, caring, passionate and hard working people that live and work there. I've had the amazing privilege of volunteering here on 2 occasions and I fully intended to make it 3 !!!" – Karen Mc Manus, Ireland
"To spend a week on holiday at Imire exceeded all expectations. It was wonderful to see such a spectacular range of animals living together in such harmony and protected by the anti poaching team. The thrill of tracking rhino and walking with and handling the elephants was a lifetime experience enhanced by the dedication of the animal handlers and the bountiful knowledge of our guides. Highlights of our programme included seeing the elephants bathing and playing in the dam together with a very early canoe trip on the lake to experience all the amazing birdlife. Our programme also included community experiences and I now know how to collect honey from the hives, make peanut butter and meet a cow! Meeting the women's community group and seeing their craft work in support of the school was humbling, and we were privileged to learn so much about the Shona culture. We were looked after so well and our guides and programme co ordinator were so welcoming, friendly and informative and passionate about their work. We learnt something new everyday. And thank you to our chefs who took the daily grind of cooking out of our hands. We know this weeks had a deep impact on our young and made them reflect deeply on the need to respect and nurture the wildlife and environment around us. I hope one day some of them will return for the Volunteer programme to broaden further their understanding of the inspirational work Imire is doing" - Gina Gerrard, UK
"Absolutely amazing, unique experience in a beautiful area. Really out of this world, and such an eye opening experience. The staff and locals are wonderful, friendly and kind and I will not forget this place at all. Thank you!! - Becca Ellis, UK
"My month at here was the best month of my life! It’s such an amazing place, I highly recommend going if you love animals!" – Abby Green, Canada
"As a 68-year-old woman with arthritis, I was worried whether I would be able to participate enough to feel helpful. But this experience was a perfect blend of physical work that was manageable, education activities about the animals, the people, and the culture, and being part of the world of the animals! The staff were so helpful, and were very gracious, not judging my age or abilities, but helping me, as I helped them. I could not have asked for a more perfect experience!"
– Debra DeWitz, USA
"What an amazing place! You go there once, and you are in love forever. You pass the doors of a park where animals are happy and so well loved enjoying a free life with the protection of the anti-poaching unit and all the people working in the game park. We had the best two weeks with an amazing programme perfectly balanced between animal activities, work and community actions. We stayed in a fantastic and comfortable camp, ate the best food ever and had such a great time together. We met lovely people, and everyone was so kind, friendly and professional. If you are still hesitating, just don’t think too much. You will be close to the elephants and rhinos (and all the other animals) as you will never be anywhere else, and this experience will change you forever without any doubt." – Linda Hirvonen, Finland
"I have volunteered at Imire twice and can’t speak highly enough about the amazing work that all the staff do for wildlife conservation. Getting up close and personal to the majestic elephants and rhinos in their natural environment and assisting with their care was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Interacting with the teachers and children at the local school was also a highlight! You will not be disappointed by what Imire has to offer, the volunteer program is well coordinated and the food that Stocks and his staff cook for the volunteers is delicious! I have so much love and respect for all the staff and animals at Imire and hope to volunteer again some time in the near future." – Dennise Rado, Australia
Dates: The programme starts and ends every Monday
Number of participants: Max 21
1 week - 995 EUR
2 weeks - 1,800 EUR
3 weeks - 2,700 EUR
4 weeks - 3,600 EUR
Extra weeks - 900 EUR per week
Please contact us if you would like to make a reservation or have any questions about this experience.
The price includes:
3 meals a day, accommodation, laundry & housekeeping, tea, coffee, juice & water, activities and airport transfers.
The price does not include:
International flights, medical or travel insurance visa costs, weekend trips, fizzy & alcoholic drinks (over 18s only).
Play a vital role in the conservation and care of the reserve’s rhinos and elephants
Observe and research the behavior of other wild animals on safari drives through the reserve
Learn about day-to-day game park management as you work alongside game rangers
Get involved in anti-poaching patrols and gain special insight into what it takes to be an anti-poaching ranger
Experience local life and learn about the culture on various community outreach projects
Live in the heart of an African Game Reserve, surrounded by wildlife and soothing sounds of the bush
You will get to monitor rhinos, elephants and predators in a beautiful environment
Explore the game park on foot, by game viewer, or on the back of one of our bush horses
The project is perfect for families and welcomes families with children from 5 years of age
We work with volunteer projects that offer meaningful learning experiences and the space to experience the remarkable wildlife you’ll be supporting. Most projects only take between 10 and 20 volunteers, so the earlier we start planning your trip, the better. The best time to start making arrangements is six to eight months before your planned departure date – especially if you want to volunteer during peak seasons, including around school holidays.