We are proud of our successful community-based conservation initiatives and love connecting people with nature and community. For over two decades we have dedicated ourselves to protecting and improving the natural areas around our lodges—with both hands-on involvement with our local communities and protecting and preserving our surrounding fauna and flora. Built on deep rooted mutual respect and trust, our concerted efforts are having substantial impacts. We invite you to join in!
White Rhino in Hwange
Imvelo Safari Lodges’ years of dedicated community and conservation work has culminated in our Community Rhino Conservation Initiative, with local people actively spearheading a conservation initiative while also directly benefiting from it. The Initiative not only employs a number of local people, it also engages community members and raises awareness, creates a buffer zone between the park and the village lands to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and generates revenue for the communities themselves to support development projects of their choice. Income generated by the first two CRCI rhinos, Thuza and Kusasa, is currently financing the local Ngamo Clinic. Placing communities at the heart of this conservation effort is having ripple effects throughout the area.
The health of a community is directly linked to its access to clean drinking water, and in dry western Zimbabwe, the single biggest issue with which local villagers must cope is access to a year-round supply of clean water. By drilling and maintaining boreholes, Imvelo strives to supply local people and their livestock with reliable sources of clean water. Imvelo has been responsible for the establishment of more than 90 new village wells or boreholes in four districts, supporting some 16,000 people and their livestock with clean drinking water. Drilling boreholes, equipping them with bush or solar pumps, and repairing them have long been our priority. We continue with this important work today, partnering with Wills Wells. Guests visiting the villages will often see these borehole pumps with people and livestock crowded around them.
People along Hwange’s southern boundary are subsistence farmers, growing the food they eat. They are extremely vulnerable to human-wildlife conflict, poor soil fertility, erratic rainfall, and social isolation. Encouraging food security is therefore a priority. Imvelo supports communities with food aid, trialling drought-resistant seeds, and setting up irrigated and fenced communal gardens. Another significant focus is on providing a meal at school to encourage children to make the daily, sometimes long, walk to school, help them concentrate in class and take part in sports, while teachers also get ration packs.
In 2017, Imvelo started building the Ngamo Clinic, with the generous support of donors. It finally treated its first patient in September 2022 and has changed the lives of people in the area. The Community Rhino Conservation Initiative is now an important part of this local healthcare project and underlines the potential social benefits of wildlife conservation. Another significant healthcare program has been our annual Smile and See Safari, which started in 2011. This provides free dental and eye care to rural villagers, with the support of Spanish and Italian volunteers from Smile is a Foundation. Over the course of the last decade, the Smile and See Safari has treated more than 36,000 patients.
Imvelo guests and friends from Australia are also driving a project in the village of Sidinda to support the local clinic, Sidinda Primary School, and Lumbora Secondary School. Their efforts have provided significant infrastructural, development, and economic benefits to the area.
Providing much-needed support to the teachers and schools that educate the young people living on the frontline of our wildlife areas is a primary goal for Imvelo, and our program assists 14 schools in our area. Support to schools has been in the shape of infrastructure (single and double classroom blocks, teachers’ cottages, boreholes, vegetable gardens), classroom furniture, and textbooks (partnering with Hwange Schools Project), teaching assistants’ salaries, school bursaries and uniforms, and workshops. In 2010 the first high school classroom block was built by Imvelo for Ngamo Secondary School with funds raised from donors. By the end of 2011 through the generosity of our supporters—and a lot of hard work—the school had two double classroom blocks, an ablution block, three teachers’ cottages and 110 eager pupils enrolled. During 2012 and 2013 Imvelo built three more teachers’ cottages with ablutions and kitchen, and drilled and equipped a borehole for the teachers and students. In 2023, Imvelo provided the school with 2 dormitories and an ablution block for boarding students to enable those from far distant homes to attend school. Guests are welcome to visit the local schools where they will be greeted warmly with smiles and songs. The Pack for a Purpose initiative encourages guests to bring stationery if they wish.