It’s predicted that rhinos will be extinct by 2030 if the rampant poaching doesn’t abate.
Conservation Travel Africa (CTA) in Southern Africa curates dedicated volunteer programmes to not only protect endangered species, but offer tourists an opportunity to interact with wildlife. Based at Imire in Zimbabwe on a 4,000-hectare private game reserve, CTA has just come up with a new programme designed to provide safe and meaningful interactions with rhinos, the majestic albeit embattled wild creatures that they are.
At Imire, guest-volunteers will receive teachings on endangered species, bush craft and survival skills, as well as a chance to interact with and involve the local communities.
‘Time is running out for children to see endangered animals in their natural habitat. Seeing, touching and learning about wild animals at a young age can instil a passion for wildlife and make children aware of the fragility facing our majestic wildlife species. It’s never too early for a child to realise that every person can and should make a difference in protecting animals and nature,’ comments CTA Marketing Manager, Jane Palmer.
This family-friendly trip will allow you to walk among rhinos and elephants who roam freely in the daylight hours – the black rhinos have their own unique personalities. The knowledgeable guides tasked with taking care of the animals are able to impart a greater sense of the species’ history and characteristics.
When it gets darker, the rhinos (five black, three white) and three elephants are kept in safe viewing enclosures where they are monitored by security guards. The nighttime offers more intimate interactions with the animals.
Palmer explains how the elephants are able to be approached, touched and fed whilst in the conservancy, ‘The elephants have been at Imire since they were very young, and are now habituated to humans.’
To date, there are only 489 black rhino left in Zimbabwe after 175 were poached between 2013 and 2018. At Imire you’ll find four of the Big Five, excluding leopards. There are 150 bird species, numerous reptiles and the plains are home to kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, zebra, and the rare sable antelope.
Imire can accommodate up to three families or between 10 to 12 guests from $9,000 (R132,000) per week. The fee includes all meals (three per day), snacks and soft drinks, as well as activities and laundry and housekeeping. Guests can stay in the volunteer house or newly-erected permanent tented camps inside the conservancy’s wilderness area.
Images: Conservation Travel Africa