Nature Enthusiast Wildlife Course

6 WEEK IMIRE NATURE ENTHUSIAST COURSE

Live at Imire for our 6-week wildlife conservation course, where you will cover a wide range of subjects and skills, delivered in a mixture of lecture-style lessons and exciting outdoor practical activities. Our FGASA-certified Nature Enthusiast Course is the perfect way to increase your wildlife knowledge and respect for the natural world, while contributing to Imire's wildlife conservation efforts through volunteer work in the conservancy and within our local communities.

Students are provided with a hands-on learning environment, where they are able to immerse themselves in our wonderful wildlife and learn about Imire’s history. We will open up a new world of possibilities and understanding of wildlife and their environment, deepening your appreciation of all our creatures, great and small.

We combine classroom learning with practical field studies to ensure you reach your full potential.

No prior experience is necessary! The 6-week wildlife course is perfect for school leavers, as part of gap year travel, or for graduates looking to take their next career steps. It has been designed to suit those looking for career guidance, or nature lovers of all ages and backgrounds who are looking for a longer and more in-depth bush experience. If you’ve already been on safari or volunteered in Africa (or at Imire!), this wildlife course is the natural next step.

  • FGASA endorsed wildlife training with certificate issued upon the successful completion of a written exam
  • Full supervision and mentoring from experienced guides and guest trainers
  • Contribute to scientific research and data collection
  • Immersive and practical learning
  • Experience Imire in a new and exciting way!

WHAT MAKES OUR COURSE UNIQUE?

Course length: the 6-week course duration enables us to go into much more detail than other shorter courses. Without strict time constraints, we are able to delve much deeper into each subject, allowing sufficient study time both in the classroom and out in the field.

Course numbers: we have limited wildlife courses to a maximum of six students per course, which allows for plenty of one-to-one training and guidance.

FGASA certified: the course is certified by FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa).

Scientific research and data collection: wildlife students contribute to Imire’s ongoing research and studies of our black and white rhinos, local vegetation and prolific bird populations. You will also get to experience the practical applications of the theory and data capture techniques you will learn about.

Volunteer and community work: the diverse course schedule allows participants to directly impact Imire’s ongoing wildlife conservation and anti-poaching efforts. We also incorporate visits to local schools, villages and historical sites to contribute to Imire’s community projects. On the conservancy, you will observe and interact with our wildlife on nature walks and game drives. You will also be working on sustainability projects such as tree planting, snare sweeps, removal of invasive plant species, maintenance of beehives, plus fence and road maintenance. 

NATURE ENTHUSIAST COURSE - WHAT DO WE COVER?

The broad range of wildlife topics covered, our talented course leaders, and the research techniques you will learn, are what set our wildlife courses apart from the rest.

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the fascinating worlds of amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds and mammals (of course, including black and white rhinos, cheetahs and elephants).  Students will learn about different environments and habitats, learn to identify large and small animals, track wildlife and interpret signs, and understand animal and bird behaviours. You will learn advanced bush survival, tracking and navigation skills, and cover topics in botany, geology, ecology, weather and climate.

The course will also draw in local conservation experts, giving students an insight into Zimbabwe’s conservation and cultural history, the current challenges facing Imire, and an outline of the work that is currently being done to secure the future of our wildlife and wilderness areas.

Core modules:

  • Geology
  • Weather and climate
  • Astronomy
  • Ecology
  • Biomes
  • Taxonomy
  • Arthropods (insects)
  • Botany (wildflowers, grasses and trees, plus their cultural significance and medicinal uses)
  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Animal behaviour
  • Conservation and habitat management
  • Historical human habitation

Extra / Custom Modules

  • Introduction to Zimbabwe and Imire
  • Basic weapons handling
  • Animal tracks and signs
  • Scientific research and data collection - telemetry tracking and camera traps
  • Wildlife and vegetation surveys
  • Advanced bush survival and navigation skills

Scientific Research

There is no other wildlife course which facilitates meaningful research quite like ours, where participants actively contribute to Imire’s research projects.

Each topic of study includes a research project. For example, if you are studying mammals you will assist rangers to track the rhinos on foot and in the vehicle using telemetry devices. Over time, your location data will be mapped, revealing our ‘rhino hot spots’. This will allow us to better deploy our anti-poaching resources and manage the vegetation on which the rhinos and other animals rely. 

Another example is monitoring and conserving our bird biodiversity - throughout the course, you will learn to identify different bird species by sight and sound. Monitoring locations and regular ID of species we come across allows us to better understand movements and migrations, monitor particular species, measure breeding success and understand population decline. 

Whether you’re thinking about a career in conservation or simply want to learn more, being involved in research projects will be an invaluable experience.

The broad range of wildlife topics covered, our knowledgeable course leaders and the research techniques you will learn, are what set the Imire Nature Enthusiast Course apart. You will learn to apply your skills in a range of environments and gain the theoretical skills that ensure you can apply what you have learnt across a variety of wildlife and conservation industries anywhere in the world.

WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE?

Our Nature Enthusiast wildlife course is a unique opportunity for wildlife lovers of all ages and backgrounds to gain an in-depth knowledge of African flora and fauna and understand the intricate and wonderful relationships between each element in an ecosystem. No experience required!

The course is perfect for people considering, or already in, careers in environmental science, conservation, animal behaviour or zoology. It is also designed to suit those who just want to experience a longer and more focused stay in Africa. It is a structured and education-centric programme, where students will gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills, transferable across many natural science careers and within different physical environments.

Age requirements: the minimum age requirement is 18 years, there is no upper age limit!

Course highlights:

  •  Expert guides and trainers;
  • Certificate of completion;
  • Family-run private conservancy;
  • Opportunities for cultural exchange and community engagement;
  • A well-rounded and wide-ranging mixture of modules;
  • Suitable for all ages and backgrounds;
  • Live in wilderness accommodation in the heart of the conservancy.

ACCOMMODATION

Nature Enthusiast students are accommodated in our purpose-built Chiwawe Wilderness Camp, situated in the wild section of Imire.

The camp is in an idyllic spot with a bar, fire pit and braai area - watch rhinos browse and giraffes graze from your verandah as you study. Participants share a twin safari-style tent, each with an en-suite bathroom with hot and cold running water, a flush toilet and shower. The main lodge has a small reference library, dining area, study area and lounge. The garden runs down to a small dam and a new swimming pool!

The remote location of Chiwawe allows for quiet, intensive learning within a diverse ecosystem. There are no fences around the camp and wildlife roams through freely, including the five black rhinos that habituate the area.

Clean, safe drinking water is provided and you will receive three home-cooked meals a day, made by our expert chefs and served buffet style. Dietary requirements can be catered for, please let us know before you arrive.

You will receive three home-cooked meals a day during your stay, made by our expert cooks, and served buffet style. Clean, safe drinking water is provided. Dietary requirements can be catered for, please let us know before you arrive!

Meet The Team

Maddie Turner FGASA course instructor

Maddie Turner
Course instructor and coordinator

Maddie will guide you every step of the way. She has a wealth of guiding and wildlife knowledge and oversees Imire's scientific research projects as part of the volunteer programme. Maddie is a FGASA certified Field Guide and Back-up Trails Guide (be prepared to do lots of walking!), and is currently working towards her Level 2 FGASA Field Guide certification.

Maddie has a particular interest in birding and foot-based tracking. She is also focused on the holistic aspect of environmental conservation - how ecosystems can be linked to conservation practices and sustainability. Her favourite modules are ecology, birds and animal behaviour.

Safari guide at Imire in Zimbabwe

Trymore Williams
Course Instructor and Coordinator

Qualified under Zimbabwe’s highest level of guide training - the LPH qualification is obtained by only a small percentage of those that apply - Trymore has since worked as a guide for the Imire conservancy for 13 years. With over a decade of experience and a passionate desire to always learn more, Trymore provides students with an insight into what being an ethical guide truly means.

His love of guiding on foot will also expose participants to the smaller, often overlooked wildlife relationships and processes between plant/animal communities on Imire. Trymore’s favourite modules are botany, birds and reptiles (particularly snakes!). 

Andries Scholtz
Imire Conservancy Manager

Andries has decades of experience running wildlife operations and ranger training across Zimbabwe. He is one of a few people in Zimbabwe to hold a specialist drugs licence, allowing him to be on the frontline of animal darting and complex veterinary procedures. He is a highly regarded wildlife expert, passionate about sharing his knowledge of Zimbabwe's flora and fauna, and is dedicated to conservation and wildlife protection. Andries will present selected practical modules of the Nature Enthusiast Course, such as survival tactics, walking trails, safety around dangerous game and team building.

Imire reilly

Reilly Travers
Imire Conservancy Manager

In addition to running the Imire conservancy and managing the Anti-Poaching Unit, Reilly is himself a qualified and highly experienced FGASA-certified guide. He completed his FGASA certification in South Africa and went on to guide at 5-star lodges in Kenya and South Africa, before returning to Zimbabwe. Reilly oversees the course schedules and will present practical elements of various modules.

Volunteers studying wildlife

Guest speakers

We will also host various guest speakers - conservation professionals and visiting professors, depending on their availability. These speakers will give students an insight into Zimbabwe’s conservation and cultural history, the current challenges facing Imire, and an outline of the work that is currently being done to secure the future of our wildlife and wilderness areas. We will update you on any guest speakers that may attend your course. 

NATURE ENTHUSIAST COURSE DETAILS

Certification: FGASA Nature Enthusiast

How long is the course? 6 weeks on-site at Imire.

Number of students: maximum 6 students per course.

Age requirements: the wildlife course is open to anyone 18 and over, with no upper age limit.

Upon completion - what do I get?

  • Internal Imire Wildlife Course certificate
  • FGASA Nature Enthusiast certificate - upon completion of written theory exam set by FGASA

Course dates 2024:

  • 22nd January - 4th March
    15th April - 27th May
    9th September - 21st October

What’s included:

  • Shared accommodation in large safari-style tents with en-suite bathroom
  • All meals (3 meals a day) and soft drinks (tea, coffee, juice, water)
  • Training costs - including exam fees
  • Training materials - including course manual and workbook
  • Access to our small onsite reference library
  • Full orientation upon arrival
  • Mentoring and 24-hour support from onsite instructors
  • Return airport transfers between Harare International Airport and Imire on set arrival and departure dates
  • Transport between training locations
  • Laundry and housekeeping.

What’s not included:

  • Flights to Harare International Airport
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance - this is compulsory
  • Any pre or post-course accommodation
  • Personal travel and excursions
  • Curio shop items or personal expenses
  • Reference books outside those provided

For pricing information, or if you have any questions, please drop us an email.

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