With the conservation status of “Critically Endangered” and “Near Threatened”, the white and black rhino populations of Africa need to be marvelled at before it is too late. The best way to truly understand the history and fight for the survival of these iconic and ancient species, and to be spurred into action, is on a rhino conservation safari.
Millions of years ago, up to 60 different species of these bodacious creatures wandered the wilderness areas of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Today fewer than 30,000 animals across a mere five species are still alive, but most certainly not well. In a worst-case scenario, experts envision that two-thirds of these creatures will be wiped out in this lifetime.
In Africa, the numbers of the various species of these big grey colossi, struggling to carve out an existence on the continent, continue to decline. There is estimated to be less than 18,000 southern white rhinos left with just two northern white rhinos (cows) still alive. The southern and southwestern black rhinos only count around 5,000 individuals, while the northwestern black rhino became extinct in 2011.
Concerned travellers to the continent can actively participate in ensuring that future generations will still have a chance to see rhinos roaming free in the wilds of Africa. Together with dedicated teams of scientists, veterinarians, conservation bodies, and governments, the monetary contribution when booking such a specialist wildlife excursion is of immense value.
Planning a hands-on rhino conservation safari should, therefore, be high on the list of the tourist with a conscious and those looking to preserve for the future. Instead of simply snapping a picture, walk in the shoes of those dedicated individuals and share in their daily struggles and successes in safeguarding this special species.
Safari-goers on a specific rhino conservation safari, have the opportunity to experience an array of activities when it comes to this important endeavour. These include anti-poaching, ear notching for research and identification, DNA-sample collection, capturing for relocation, de-horning for safety, release back into the wild, and feeding orphans at rehabilitation refuge.
Such a rendezvous may only last a couple of hours, but visitors are sure to gain and leave with a deep appreciation and understanding of the perseverance and perils of the rhino. The moral recognition and financial support to its protectors are furthermore of immeasurable value.
Various specialist operators across the country, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, offer experiences that will give safari-goers a unique perspective of conservation in action.
Share in the work of Save the Rhino Trust in Damaraland that has the largest free-roaming black rhino population on the continent. The animals are followed in a vehicle before participants continue on foot.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the Laikipia region is home to the last two remaining northern white rhinos that are guarded 24/7 by armed guards. Visitors will hear their accounts of protecting these critically endangered animals.
Additionally, visitors can follow the black rhino of the Sera Community Conservancy on foot to within a short distance, all in the company of specialists and trained rangers. A visit to the rhino sanctuary is also a must.