This project is a collaboration with wildlife organizations and the Zimbabwe Parks Authority, in order to research and protect the vital ecosystems in the region.
Photographs taken can be used for any number of purposes, including species identification, raising awareness and promoting tourism.
What's not Included
This project takes place at Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Parks in Zimbabwe, which are undoubtedly among the most impressive wildlife areas in Southern Africa and offer some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities.
The Victoria Falls National Park, comprising 23 kilometres of riverine jungle, provides a tranquil setting from which to view the five cascades of Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders. Bushbucks and troops of baboons can frequently be spotted along the walkways, and depending on the season, spray from the Falls creates magnificent rainbows. Also dependent on the season, it is possible to view a lunar rainbow over the Falls during a full-moon. The Victoria Falls National Park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as home to four of the five African Big 5 species.
The 56,200 hectare Zambezi National Park, home to a lot of big game, stretches along the Zambezi River for 40 kilometres. Animals include big-game such as elephants, buffalos and lions, larger antelope species such as greater kudus, sables and waterbucks, along with a large number of smaller mammal species including duikers, genets and honey badgers.
Throughout your stay, you will be participating in various research-based activities where you will also have the opportunity to improve your photography. Your day will be split between conservation/research and photography, but normally you will be able to take pictures throughout. Depending on the season, you may be involved in the following activities. Please note that some activities, and some research methodologies, are seasonal and you may not be able to take part in every activity during your stay.
- Large Predator Research: The Zambezi National Park is home to lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and spotted hyenas. Your role will be to assist in collecting baseline data on each species that is used to improve species conservation management plans. Data collection is undertaken by a variety of means, including driven transects, observations at water holes, remote camera traps, baited call-in stations and community questionnaires. When animals are sighted you will attempt to take photographic evidence for individual identification and will record the GPS location, as well as other information useful to the research effort.
- Elephant Research: The elephant population in this region is huge, but little is known about their seasonal behaviors. You will be assisting in documenting the location, size and structure of elephant herds, helping to build up a database of individual animals using their ear notches, tusk size, and shape as identification markers. We will also be looking at feeding behaviors to assess the species’ impact on the vegetation of the park.
- Biodiversity Assessment: To complement the large predator research, you will assist in monitoring the number and distribution of other species within the park. Data is collected by driven transect surveys on historically used routes to allow for comparison over time.
- National Park Management: You will be assisting the park’s staff in many aspects of management, including invasive alien plant species removal, waterhole and fire management programs, snare sweeps, creating maps for visitors to the park, as well as helping out in the park’s offices with general administrative duties and visitor management.
- Entomological Survey: We hope you enjoy insects! This research program is trying to understand the complex relationships between the vast array of insects and the even greater array of plants and trees within the parks. You will lay out traps and assist in identifying what we catch.
- Conservation Education: A vital part of your role will be assisting with our outreach programs with the local community. These programs help increase support for conservation efforts. You will therefore be assisting in preparing lesson plans which you will later teach in some of the local schools.
- Walk with Lions: As part of your experience, you will have the opportunity to walk with lion cubs up to the age of 18 months old as they participate in the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Minimum age 18
- Basic English
- Good physical fitness
- Enthusiasm for photography and for African wildlife is essential
- Immunizations (please consult your local travel clinic)
- Police clearance form
Project Orientation (Included):
On arrival at the project, the following orientation will take place:
- You will receive your volunteer's manual, which includes information that will help with your integration into the project.
- Introduction to all project staff and those of our partners
- Familiarization of the two national parks in which you will be working, including vital safety information about how to enjoy your stay on the project
- Familiarization of Victoria Falls town so you know how to get around
- Introduction to the research programs and how you will assist with these including a briefing on how to complete data capture forms and enter data into the computer systems
- You will also take part in an extensive three day Photography Course. The course will offer a basic overview of key concepts in photography including technical, artistic and post processing aspects. It will aim to equip you with usable, practical, and creative skills.
Travel Extras (Not Included):
During your stay at Victoria Falls, you will have the opportunity to enjoy exciting activities in Africa’s “adrenaline capital” and excursions to some of Zimbabwe’s spectacular sights. Some activities offered for an additional cost include:
- Helicopter flights over the Falls
- Bungee Jumping
- White water rafting
- Horse rides
- Elephant rides
- Game drives
- Gorge Jumps
- Horse ride
- Boat cruise
- Night encounter