RIFA Conservation Education Camp

Rifa Conservation Education Camp is a unique wildlife conservation and environmental education programme for Zimbabwean school children.

Nestled on the banks of the Zambezi River floodplain, 4km's upstream from Chirundu, the camp was established with the purpose of educating the children of Zimbabwe on the sustainable management of the nation's abundant and diverse wildlife and natural ecosystems, empowering and motivating the country's future generations to conserve their country's stunning natural heritage. The programme provides visiting children with a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in a protected wildlife area and experience the beauty and majesty of the Zimbabwean bush, building awareness on the importance of protecting the country's natural ecosystem and teaching the vital conservation skills necessary to achieve this.

Background

Rifa Conservation Education Camp was set up by the Zimbabwe Hunters Association (ZHA) in 1981, to teach conservation to young Zimbabweans. A different school attends every week (it is closed in the rainy season, December to mid-March). Rifa has had over 20 000 youth come enjoy it’s programmes, and has a capacity of 1200 a year, plus teachers.

Rifa is situated 3 kms upstream and on the Zambezi, (S) from Chirundu. In the Urungwe Safari Area. There, students study nature, while in it - so learn and have practical examples of vegetation and wildlife while doing transects; - soil, erosion, and geology while studying slope profiles; - anatomy while conducting a dissection; - the role of scavengers during the vulture watch. There are also facilities for non-school guests.

Wildlife

Home to four species of the "Big Five", the camp is ideally situated by a waterhole, and the good grazing/browsing provided by its floodplain regularly attracts a host of wild animals. Species regularly encountered include Elephant, Hippo, Kudu, Waterbuck, Impala, Warthog, Hyena, Baboons and Honey Badgers to name a few, with Lion, Leopard, Wild Dogs, Eland and Zebra making regular appearances. The area's birdlife is also fantastic with up to 155 species being sighted or heard on a single outing, with rare birds such a the Cape Griffon making an appearance. There is also a thriving “Vulture Restaurant” which attracts large numbers of Hooded, White Headed, White Backed and Lappet Faced Vultures and on previous occasions visitors have been treated to the exciting spectacle of feeding vultures being chased off by aggressive lion and hyena.

Location and contact details

In Chirundu, turn left just before the final billboard and before entering the customs area. Move through Chirundu (do not go up the hill) past the dumpsite and sewerage farm, and the road will take you to the National Parks gate (ZPWMA). Rifa camp is there.

Bookings, Harare. Trish Evans – ZHA office, Mukuvisi Woodlands, Hillside Road, Hillside, Harare.

P.O. Box HG.548, Highlands, Harare. +263 (242) 747215-6 +263 772 329 434 zha@mweb.co.zw.

Camp manager, Chirundu. Elspeth Baillie – Rifa, rifacampmanager@gmail.com.

Facility

There are three dormitory blocks for students (capacity 30), and one for teachers (capacity 5). The “Hunters Cottage”, and five single and double ‘cages’ for other guests. All have beds, and mattresses, but bring your own bedding. There is space to camp. Three kitchens (all self-catering), and four ablution facilities are available. There is a library, laboratory and museum.

Activities

  • Game viewing and walks. (Photography).
  • Birding. (Photography).
  • Hollow baobab.
  • Vulture Watch.
  • Nature – water hole and flood plain grasses on the doorstep.

Further reading

Rifa Web Site; 2019, retrieved, 12 June 2019.
[https://www.facebook.com/pg/RifaEducationConservationCampZimbabwe/about/?ref=page_internal Rifa FaceBook Page; 2019, retrieved, 12 June 2019.]


References