Sikeleli Africa Safaris > Volunteer with Rhinos at Imire
Who are we?
At Imire we are serious about conservation and education. We aim to help many different groups of people including local communities, foreign and local visitors, volunteers, researchers and special interest groups experience the wildlife and environment to better understand the phenomenal ways of nature.
Our black rhino breeding program is part of this aim and has grown from small beginnings to a world-renowned, ongoing mission, to which we are all highly committed.
How it all started
It all began when, in 1972, John Travers’ father, Norman, pioneered the integration of cattle ranching and commercial farming with wildlife management at Imire.
He was recognised over the years for his vast knowledge and contribution towards conservation. But the highlight of Norman’s contribution to the wildlife of Zimbabwe was in 1987, when he became the privileged custodian of seven orphaned baby black rhino.
During the late 1980s, at the peak of rhino poaching in Zimbabwe, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife removed the remaining 120 black rhino out of the danger zones of the National Parks and into Intensive Protection Zones on various Conservancies. Imire was given the care of 7 baby rhino aged between 4 and 6 months – 3 males, Noddy, Fumbi, Sprinter and 4 females, Cuckoo, Mvu, D.J. and Amber.
All 7 calves were hand-raised on a bottle for at least 8 years. The rhino were kept on the milk formula for that length of time to continue the human contact and of course as a comforter. They were raised together as a semi-domesticated herd.
Imire is proud to be the custodian of Zimbabwe’s black rhino and we are equally proud that our breeding station has been successful. The costs of running a conservancy and the breeding programme are ever-increasing and we are always in need of donations and support to keep our animals safe and happy.
Rhino Breeding & Release
The black rhino have bred successfully; to date, 14 births have taken place on Imire. We have returned 9 rhino to the Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe and one to Botswana.
Sadly, Imire also suffered great loss when 3 black rhino and an unborn calf were shot and killed on 7th November 2007.
In this brutal poaching incident, Imire lost a generation of black rhino, an event that shocked the world and left us heartbroken, but not without the determination to keep fighting for the rhino’s survival.
At present we have 4 sub-adult rhino: Gomo, KamuChaCha, Shanu and Tatenda. The rhino are penned in two separate sites nightly, watched by armed guards, and during the day are taken out onto the ranch with their handlers to browse. Our intention is to continue the breeding programme on a significant level and we are hoping that Gomo and KamuChaCha will soon be proud parents, too, something we are delighted to see they are doing their best to achieve!