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Horse Riding and Wildlife Conservation

Zimbabwe

During this one or two week equine volunteer project, you will experience the best of our amazing rhino and elephant conservation programme. Volunteers need to be experienced riders to attend the horse project, comfortable with walk, trot and canter on a fresh horse in wide open spaces. You will be part of an integrated approach to the protection of endangered rhino and elephant and contribute to conservancy management on horseback. All this, riding in a small group of no more than four. This is a true way to experience the African bush and make a real difference to animals in need whilst exploring beautiful Zimbabwe. You can join for longer by adding on the wildlife project at £800 per week before or after your riding experience. 


Please note this project has a 80kg weight limit in line with the wellbeing and safety of the horses.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS


  • Combine horse riding safaris with rhino and elephant conservation work


  • Get involved with horse management and care, game monitoring, anti-poaching and cattle management


  • Help walk the rescued and rehabilitated elephants and rhinos in the reserve, and carry out their daily feeds


  • Ride up close to rhino, elephant, giraffe, antelope, warthogs and other iconic species


  • Assist in horseback game counts and animal welfare monitoring


  • Enjoy the thrill of cantering through the bush along endless sandy tracks and feel the true vastness of African wilderness. 

Project video

Horse riding volunteers experience a different Africa from other visitors, as they explore the game park on horseback, undertake fence and boundary monitoring and join the dedicated anti-poaching team for moonlight snare patrols. Muster cattle around the game park and nextdoor farm, and interact closely with wildlife who are not afraid or threatened by horses.


You will experience amazing animal sightings, enjoy the African bush and do essential volunteer work, all on horseback, as well as having the opportunity to interact closely with rhinos and elephants and monitor other wildlife on the reserve. The aim of the programme is to assist the established black rhino breeding and release programme, undertake patrols to better secure the conservancy and protect the animals, and collect meaningful information relating to rhino and wildlife conservation. You will also help educate the local children about the importance of protecting the natural environment and how they can play their part in conservation.

KEY VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES


Horse Management 


  • Mucking out

  • Tacking up

  • Grooming 

  • Feeding horses 

  • Veterinary care of injured or sick horses

  • Tack cleaning 


In the Saddle


  • Ensure the conservancy is a safe and secure environment through regular and extensive horse patrols

  • Undertake anti-poaching patrols on horseback, conduct snare sweeps and boundary patrols

  • Assist with the communication of conservation messages to local children


Game park work:


  • Provide daily assistance to the Game Park Manager to ensure the effective running of the reserve

  • Assist in horseback game counts and animal welfare monitoring

  • Locate and assess specific herds around the game park


Cattle ranching:


  • Monitor the welfare of the cattle herd and move cattle to different sections of the reserve

  • Work with the Cattle Team to conduct health inspections

  • Patrol the park to find lost cattle and check for new calves

  • Assist with cattle counts and dipping


Endangered species conservation work:


  • This part of the programme is not always done on horseback

  • Observe social interactions and monitor the behaviour of the black and white rhino, and elephants

  • Learn to track collared rhino using telemetry

  • Maintain and clean out elephant beds

  • Carry out research projects and data collection on their feeding behaviour and movements


A Day in the Life


Horse riding volunteers will usually get up around 6.00 - 6.30am to get started before the day heats up. Have breakfast and pack your water bottle and a packed lunch; feed and groom the horses and head out into the game park to locate the sable and blesbok antelope. Count the size and composition of the herd, assess the condition and number of any babies and check the health of mothers.


Locate one of the baby giraffes and check the health and location of the baby and mother. After a packed lunch and a short rest, sitting under the shade of the msasa trees, or on top of one of the viewpoints, get back onto your horse and head to one of the far-flung areas of the park, checking for snares, fence damage and evidence of fires or traps. Make your reports to the Game Park Manager who may task you with fixing any broken areas or repairing fireguards.


Then it's time to drop the horses off, feed and groom, before heading back to the volunteer house for an evening swim to cool off before a much needed and hearty dinner!


Free Time


During your leisure time you may go on walks and hikes around the reserve or to local places of interest; go fishing or canoeing on one of the many dams or swim in the pool at the volunteer house. We highly recommend a weekend visit to Victoria Falls (a 1 hour flight). This can be organised when you are at the programme.

Project Photos

ACCOMMODATION


There are two accommodation options at the reserve and both will blow your socks off. Both are in the middle of the game reserve and are unique, comfy, have hot and cold running water and give an authentic African experience. Bedding and towels are included, and the project manager lives close by. You will receive 3 cooked meals a day and we also cater for vegetarians and vegans. This project is all about spending time with nature- there is no WiFi. You can purchase a Zimbabwean SIM card which you can use to access 3G however, the signal is unreliable so be prepared to be off the grid a bit.


The first space is a large converted house, lovingly decorated with an African theme and beautiful art inspired by the project. There are 5 rooms, all of which are same sex sharing, with comfy single beds and with shared bathrooms. A maximum of 12 people will stay in the house, enjoying the large 2 story communal living room and veranda. Beyond the social seating area, the grassy lawn leads to a large dam that creates stunning reflections at sunrise and sunset. Volunteers often go canoeing on the water in their free time.


The second space is a camp down the road, where up to 12 volunteers can stay in safari style glamping tents. The tents have hard permanent floors and luxury bathrooms, with 2 single beds sharing the tall (normal room height) canvas ceilings. This is right in the middle of the bush and often volunteers are lucky enough to see wildlife strolling through the unfenced camp. There is a large living space with sofas and board games.

LOCATION


Zimbabwe is based in the middle of Southern Africa. At present there are no quarantine requirements on arrival so you can head straight to the project from the airport.  Zimbabwe is renowned by locals as being the best place to do a safari because there are considerably fewer tourists, and the nature reserves are much more wild and free. It is home to Victoria Falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world, and the largest waterfall in the world, being 2 times higher and wider than Niagara Falls, and a hot spot for adrenalin sports like skydiving, rafting and bungee jumping. There are some of the largest national parks in Africa, the largest man-made lake in the world (Lake Kariba), fantastic fishing, beautiful cities, endless horizons and cultural diversity. “Zimbos” (as they call themselves), are friendly and love showing volunteers their way of life, culture, and history.

PROJECT COST


2024 cost:


1 week: £1,146

2 weeks: £2,293


Add extra weeks on the wildlife project: £800 per week


The horse project only runs for 2 weeks a month, but often volunteers want to stay longer and help further with the wildlife project. If you extend on the wildlife project you will be carrying out all of the wildlife work detailed above (rhino, elephants, game and park management), but without a daily horseride. 


Want to know what’s included in the cost? Great news, it is pretty much everything! Including your:


  • Pre-departure assistance

  • All airport collection and returns 

  • All accommodation 

  • 3 amazing meals a day - we cater well for all dietary requirements

  • 24 hour support on every project and at the volunteer accommodation by onsite staff


OUR PRICES EXCLUDE

  • Visa

  • Medical and travel insurance

  • Flights to and from Zimbabwe

START DATES


Volunteers can join this project for 1 or 2 weeks over the following periods. You will be collected at the airport in our transfer vehicle, which will arrive between midday and 1pm to collect you. 



2024 dates:


January 8th – 24th: FULL

February 5th – 19th: 2 spaces available

March 4th – 18th: 1 space available

April 1st – 15th: 1st – 8th : 1 space available 

April 8th – 15th : FULL

May 6th – 20th : FULL

June 10th – 24th: FULL

July 8th – 22nd: 1 space available

July 8th – 15th : 1 space available 

July 15th – 22nd : FULL

August 5th – 19th: FULL

September 2nd – 16th: 2nd – 9th : FULL 

September 9th – 16th : 1 space available

October 7th – 21st:  4 spaces available

November 4th – 18th:  3 spaces available

December 2nd – 16th: 4  spaces available



2025 dates:


January 13th – 27th: 4 spaces available

February 10th – 24th: 4 spaces available

March 4th – 18th: 4 spaces available

April 7th – 21st: 4 spaces available

May 5th – 19th : 4 spaces available

June 2nd – 16th: 4 spaces available

July 7th – 21st:  4 spaces available

August 4th – 18th: 4 spaces available

September 1st – 15th:  4 spaces available

October 6th – 20th:  4 spaces available

November 3rd – 17th:  4 spaces available

December 1st – 15th: 4 spaces available

Volunteer feedback

Erica Stamford

March 2022

"Where do I even begin. THANK YOU for having me on this placement. It is lifechanging. My advice if you are unsure, just do it. The team are so welcoming and you make friends fast, coming alone is fine. I am already saving up to come back"

Claire Carter

June 2022

"I loved the riding the most. The horses are sweet, and so steady in the bush. Horseback river crossings, swimming in the dam, game counts, riding with Judy who taught me so much about wildlife and conservation. But working hands on which Rhino and Elephant and tracking the cheetah on foot was also so cool"

WHAT NEXT?

 

We want you to join us in Africa to use your passion for horses to help save endangered wildlife? Are you dreaming of galloping thrugh the bush, swimming on horseback and exploring untouched savanna?  If you think you can assist this project, please click the "apply now" button and we will be in touch with you shortly.

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