The main activities on this project will
revolve around the rhino dehorning, but should that job be completed then you
will revert back to the project activities on the Victoria Falls Conservation
Experience. Activities include:
Fitting Tracking Devices
To keep a closer eye on all of the rhinos in the reserve, they need to be fitted with a noninvasive tracking device. You’ll be part of the team helping this process, and once done it will provide the project staff with a much clearer picture of the movement patterns of the rhinos.
Once located, you will be a part of the team led by a local vet which will remove the horn from the animal to prevent it being killed and poached later on in its life. This is the whole point of the operation and is crucial to the survival of the species.
Ear notching is one of the methods used at the project site to identify individual rhinos. With each marking being different, it gives both volunteers and staff the chance to identify a rhino from a long distance meaning the levels of disruption to the animals is kept to a minimum.
Blood Sample Collection
Blood samples are taken from the rhinos for two reasons. The first is to check for any pathogens or illnesses they may have so they can be treated. The second reason is to collect a DNA–based identification method.
You will get close enough to the rhinos to get photographs of specific body parts such as the underside of their feet to add to the footprint ID kit the team is building.
To ensure that the rhinos teeth are healthy you will help to give them a once over, assisting the vet in his or her work.
As rhinos are unpredicatable creatures, your itinerary could change quickly from day to day, but below is a general guidline of what you can expect.
Day 1 – The Adventure Begins:
You will be met at arrivals at the Victoria Falls International Airport before being transferred to the project site. You will spend the remainder of your day settling in and meeting your fellow volunteers.
Day 2-13 – Project Days:
These are the days when you will take part in all of the project activities. You will be leaving camp by 7am at the latest as it is safest to operate on the rhino when temperatures are still cool, so be prepared to leave at sunrise when it is required! From 11am to 3pm when the sun is at its hottest you will have some down time to rest up. It is then back to work from 3-7pm when you will continue locating and checking up on the rhino which was darted in the morning.
Day 14 – Final Day:
Unfortunately, today is your last day, so you will either catch your return flight home or commence your onward travel plans.
Updates & Outcomes
On World Rhino Day we wanted to learn a little more about the plight of one of the worlds most endangered animals. Without our help, the number of rhinos will continue to fall at a dramatic rate and something needs to be done to stop this so take the time to read up and learn a little more.
Is this trip for you?
On this project you will be accommodated in a purpose-built volunteer facility at the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve. Every volunteer is allocated their own room with bathrooms shared between two to three volunteers
The facility also boasts a spacious, fully-equipped kitchen and canteen area where all meals are prepared and served. There is a safe on the premises for cash and small valuables. The lecture room at the conservation centre is well equipped with presentation equipment and a comprehensive book library. One of the highlight features of the conservation centre is the open-air entertainment area, which includes a deck, bar facility and small swimming pool. All overlook the game reserve with waterholes along the Masuwe River's ancient “oxbow”.
You will enjoy three meals a day, prepared by the camp cook. Meals are simple, yet tasty and nutritious. Please note that on some days, meals (especially lunches) will be pre-made and packed, and taken out into the field, giving you the opportunity to make the most of your time in African bush while applying yourself to conservation and community activities.
There is also an honesty bar present in the accommodation where you check off what drink you have had and then you will be billed on leaving.
This project involves a fair amount of manual work so a moderate level of fitness is necessary. No specific skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and full commitment to the cause. You must also be prepared to work as part of a team.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
You will need to arrive at the Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) on your project start date if you arrive by 2pm, but if not then the Tuesday before the project starts where you will be met by the project facilitator and transferred to the project. This transfer is only around ten minutes. The airport is serviced by flights from Johannesburg, Bulawayo, Windhoek and Harare.
If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.
ALL volunteers are required to get a "Business visa" in order to join this project. These visas are obtainable from the embassy before travel or upon arrival from the immigration officers at the airport, and you will need to pay cash for the visa in USD – currently $55.00 for most European and US citizens, $70 for Canadian citizens and $70 for UK and Irish citizens. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that you obtain the right visa.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The most used currency in Zimbabwe is usually the United States Dollar and the South African Rand. The exchange rate is around 1 ZAR = 0.06 GBP, 0.1 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day (including weekends)
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- All lectures, week day field activities and community visits
What's not Included:
- Travel and health insurance (please check you have one covering all aspects of the trip)
- Weekend leisure activities (e.g. to the all you can eat Boma restaurant which costs around USD$45)