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C | Volunteering with horses for wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe

Welcome to the Contributor [C] series on Life Equestrian. I love collaborating with other writers and influencers and started this series to curate a source of helpful tips from our equestrian community. Thank you Sanne Westera from Hooves Around the World.


There is a volunteer program, or better called a volunteer experience in Zimbabwe where you get to combine horse riding with giving back to the local community, nature and wildlife. At a reserve called Imire you can participate for one to twelve weeks in total in the regular volunteer program, and for one to two weeks in a row in the horse riding program. Every single day at Imire is truly magical and something every horse, nature and animal lover should experience in their life.

What is the difference between the regular and horse riding program?

The horse riding program is for experienced riders only as you are riding horses in an area with lots of wildlife. So if you are not experienced, you are welcome to give back by joining the regular program. In the regular program you get to do all volunteer activities every week from monday to Saturday, and you get Saturday afternoon and Sunday off to enjoy the amazing surroundings of the volunteer house. As a participant in the horse riding program you only join half of the regular activities and you’ll be on the back of a horse the rest of the week. You do get the same off days.

What do we do in the regular volunteer program at Imire?

In this program, it’s all about learning the ins and outs of Imire’s conservation efforts and helping to support them. You’ll gain loads of knowledge about all the animals that live on the reserve and you’ll be helping out with some maintenance jobs. You also get to interact with the rhinos and elephants and you’ll make visits to the local community and learn about their projects to support young girls going to school. The day is split into three activities. One before breakfast from 6.30am to 9am, the second from 10am to 12.30pm, and the last from 2pm to 5pm. In between you have time to relax and soak up the beauty of Zimbabwe.

What do we do in the horse riding program at Imire?

As a rider in the volunteer program you get to join half of the regular activities. Sometimes you will go riding in the morning and do activities in the afternoon or vice versa. Twice a week you will be helping herd the cattle to the crush. Imire has over 700 heads of cattle that need to be counted and brought in for tick removal. This is to help with tick control in the reserve. These are super useful and very fun rides! The rest of the rides you do will be to monitor the wildlife that hides away from the roads and to check and see that everything is alright. You will also be doing checks of the boundaries and fence line of the reserve. A super rewarding experience and the rides at Imire will not be forgotten by anyone that had the pleasure of participating.

Are there other ways to give back to Imire?

Yes! You can donate here This really helps the community and wildlife, and it’s Imire’s main way of being able to take care of the animals!

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