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.
Since its establishment in 1981 by a group of Zimbabwean conservationists, Rifa has seen over 20,000 Zimbabwean children attend its conservation and environmental education programmes. The camp boasts an annual capacity of 1200 children (plus their teachers), and is run at full capacity with a wait-list. It operates from mid-March until the end of November, running throughout the dry season and into the fringes of the rainy season.The camp is run by Zimbawe Hunters Association (ZHA) which includes a number of regional experts in their fields of interest and is supported and endorsed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority who provide the programme with a ranger. The organization is a part of an extensive network that collaborates with other conservation and environmental learning organisations locally and overseas.
Rifa can accommodate up to 30 children and their teachers at a time while five staff are permanently housed at the camp. It is run by a dedicated group of conservationists. The camp includes a well equipped reference library, museum and laboratory, students dormitories, teachers rooms and ablutions, guides' accomodation, a kitchen and a dining area and recieves a reliable power and water supply.
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.