Hanchi Horseback Conservation

Rhino and Racehorses - One species race to save another!

Join a new and innovative Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit in the stunning South African bush and put your riding skills to unique conservation benefit.

Within the beautiful landscape of the wildlife prolific greater Kruger area, an amalgamation of ten farms have dropped their fences and adopted wildlife as their primary focus. Within the conservancy a unique partnering with six ex-racehorses is assisting in the protection of Africa's white and black rhino.

Mounted Anti Poaching Unit herd

Partnering with Rhino Revolution, this programme addresses the short term need for rhino protection while demonstrating to the broader community the value of wildlife in sustainable conservation strategies.

  • Join mounted guards of the Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit for fence line patrols 
  • Extensive patrolling of a large conservancy with overnight fly camps
  • Learn tracking techniques from horseback
  • Black and white rhino tracking and identification
  • Continual rehabilitation and training a herd of six ex-racehorses in the African bush
  • Daily equine husbandry, tack and yard maintenance

Conservation in the field

The reserve's Mounted Anti Poaching Unit is a great success. Since it's initiation in 2012, not one rhino has been lost to poaching. The ex-racehorses provide an undeniable presence to poachers, fearing the larger racehorses themselves, while the horses provide a holistic and quiet approach to anti poaching work and unique ability to traverse difficult terrain. 

  • Hanchi Horseback Video
  • Wildlife viewing on horseback
  • Hanchi's Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit
  • Equine care
  • Accommodation in the African bush
  • Removal of Snares
  • Rhino tracking
  • Racing Champions
  • The Team
  • Equine husbandry
  • Hanchi accommodation

Hanchi Horseback Video

Wildlife viewing on horseback

On horseback is a great way to view wildlife as the animals are less wary of the horses

Wildlife viewing on horseback

Hanchi's Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit

Join the patrols with the Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit at Hanchi

Hanchi's Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit

Equine care

All volunteers take responsibility for caring for the horses.

Equine care

Accommodation in the African bush

Relax and watch the sun set after a day in the saddle at the African bush camp

Accommodation in the African bush

Removal of Snares

The Anti-Poaching Unit assist in the removal of old farming wire which is often used by poachers for snares

Removal of Snares

Rhino tracking

The Anti-Poaching Unit track the white and black rhino regularly

Rhino tracking

Racing Champions

Ex-Racehorse herd at Hanchi have won 37 races between them, and now successfully turned their hooves to protecting a fellow species.

Racing Champions

The Team

Join a professional racehorse trainer who has successfully rehabilitated her ex racehorses and given them a fantastic new job in the quest to protect another species

The Team

Equine husbandry

Volunteers build close bonds with the horses at Hanchi and assist with training to desensitise them during bush rides, with their care and husbandry.

Equine husbandry

Hanchi accommodation

Riders are accommodated at nearby BlouBank Tented Safaris in traditional bush style tented camps

Hanchi accommodation

Work with the Wildlife

Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit

  • The herd are foremost a mounted Anti-Poaching patrol team, and you will ride daily fence patrols, often riding over rough terrain and traversing thick natural bushveld.
  • Due to the size of the extended conservancy, riders and the Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit will overnight at purpose built fly camps within the greater conservancy, sleeping out in the bush and caring for the horses in temporary camps. 

Tracking Techniques and Skills

  • Learn traditional tracking techniques on the ground from a qualified FGASA/BOTA instructor.
  • Continue tracking skills from horseback, using the higher position to gain better sightings and distance. The unique disposition and heightened senses of ex-racehorses allow for efficient and quiet recognition of any poachers or unusual contexts.
  • The regal presence of these ex-racehorses provides a formidable deterrent to any poacher and creates awareness of the unprecedented poaching issue.

Species Monitoring

  • While carrying out anti-poaching initiatives, you will monitor key species populations on the reserve, their movements and behavioural factors.
  • Join Rhino Revolution and assist with the ongoing rhino monitoring programme.
  • Supplementary monitoring of key species will take place from game drive vehicles. Currently conservation travellers will be involved in a leopard habituation programme on the reserve.

Equine Husbandry and Care

  • The herd's original and experienced racing grooms travelled with them from their heritage home of Zimbabwe and teach conservation travellers the daily care and husbandry of the herd as they adapt to the bush. 
  • Parasite control to prevent diseases. 
  • Equine tack and yard maintenance.

Rider Competency

This programme is aimed at competent riders who can safely control spirited horses. It is essential that a conservation traveller wishing to partake in this project be currently riding and able to safely control a horse who may spook to reactions and movements in the bush. You must be comfortable in all gaits from walk to gallop.

The ex-racehorses at Hanchi have been re-homed with a successful and established racehorse trainer. The horses have recently relocated from Zimbabwe to provide the power behind this new initiative. The herd are well bred thoroughbreds having won 37 races between them, aged between 7-10 years with the majority over 16.3hh. You must therefore be capable and confident to handle such horses from the ground in addition to riding. 

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Hear from other volunteers who've visited Hanchi Horseback Conservation

As my arrival coincided with the approach of dusk, the first impressions I had of Hanchi were of a h... click for more...

As my arrival coincided with the approach of dusk, the first impressions I had of Hanchi were of a herd of majestic gemsbuck (oryx) galloping across the dirt road silhouetted against a glorious sunset. They are the most stunning of antelope – although also the one least likely to oblige by standing still for a photo, never mind, I won’t forget that first sight of them, it’s forever etched in my memory. Animals just seemed to burst out of the bush from everywhere, kudu with great spiralling antlers, waterbuck with their distinctive white rears, impala and wildebeest – I felt I should pinch myself, this location far exceeded my expectations, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Lucy Marris, Career Break, 2013

Thanks everyone at ACE! I had a fantastic 2 weeks at Hanchi. I would fully recommend going as it was an amazing experience. As a result, i'm currently working out whether I can afford to return next year for a longer period of time, because two weeks just isn't long enough!

Charley Eden

Everyone involved in ACE is very motivated and passionate about what they do which I found infectious as a volunteer! The project was brilliant - I'd never dreamed of getting so close to wild cheetah, it was like being able to enter their world

Nicholas Abery

The experience of following a cheetah on foot through the bush is mind blowing, sitting with a cheetah as she rests just metres away is a phenomenal experience

Catriona Carr

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Your placement cost includes return flights and carbon offsets (if selected), return transfers from Johannesburg Airport to your project, all accommodation, meals (at most projects), transfers between projects if you are volunteering at more than one project, the 24 hour support of our South African ground manager, ACE T-Shirts, and, of course, the contributions to the projects, without which they could not operate. Read more about the costs, where your money goes and financing your volunteering placement here