How can you become part of the amazing 'Rhinos Without Borders' conservation programme in Africa?

Albee Yeend By Albee Yeend
12 Sep 2017
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As the rhino population unhappily declines by three every single day, you really should move heaven and earth to see this remarkable creature in the wild before it's too late.

Rest assured though, your safari can also help to save the Rhino too.

Did you know that rhino horn is made up from the same substance as your fingernails but nonetheless people pay thousands for the horn? This sadly means that thousands of rhinos die every year, and people die too trying to protect them.

There are various fabulous on-going projects for Rhino conservation in Africa. The following are my favourite places that I really recommend if you want to see the endangered rhino.

 

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Rhinos Without Borders

This an ambitious conservation program that is giving hope to rhinos across southern Africa. The project has had incredible success and Great Plains plus &Beyond, are projecting to have nearly 80 rhino relocated by the end of the year, due in large part to the generosity of their trade partners and individuals.

For the most generous donors, those who sponsor two or more rhino’s relocation, they offer the opportunity to witness the release. These trips are logistically complicated and subject to last minute changes, however the experience is truly “life changing”. Unfortunately, we rarely have much lead time in knowing exactly when and where the releases will take place.

If you’re interested in participating in ‘Rhinos Without Borders’ in such a way, one relocation later this year is anticipated and another one in the spring of 2018 that may be a viable option for donors, but we will not know the dates until closer to the event. And unfortunately we must ask the information remain strictly confidential due to the significant security sensitivities surrounding rhino relocations.

With regards to where you stay in Botswana, the location will only be disclosed nearer the time, which will be approximately one month beforehand. The cost to clients is U$90,000 to relocate two rhinos and you would become an official sponsor and be able to name your rhino.

The picture above is by courtesy of David Murray

 

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Kunene Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia, Damaraland

Save the Rhino Trust is working with local safari operators to save the rhino. Damaraland is home to the largest free-ranging population of black rhino in Africa and you can track them by vehicle or on foot in this immense, breath-taking landscape. Whilst this does take time and patience, the reward of spotting one of these great creatures is truly worth the wait.

Desert Rhino Camp is located on the Palmwag concession which covers 580,000 hectares with uninterrupted views of desert and mountains.  The freshwater springs found on the reserve are one of the reasons why some animals are so successful here. The area is separated into zones and when a Rhino has been spotted and viewed in one zone, they are left alone for the day - only one sighting per day of an individual is allowed. 

The entire region covers half a million square kilometres and is the single largest natural traversing and free roaming area for the endangered Black rhino. A portion of every bed night spent here automatically goes to SRT, which helps fund their conservation projects.

It is important to know that Desert Rhino Camp is a joint venture between Save the Rhino Trust (STR) and the company who owns the property; the point being that SRT is responsible for the survival of the rare black rhino in this area.

 

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Activities in camp therefore tend to focus on tracking Black rhino, which they usually do once a day. Save The Rhino Trust is run by locally trained people who patrol and monitor the Rhino and it is with these trackers, some of whom are seconded to the camp, that you go out. They tend to go out slightly ahead of you to scout the areas where the Rhino are expected to be before your guide drives you out a little later on to appreciate the scenery and other resident game before following the trackers.

The time on foot and vehicle varies depending on where the rhino is. Black rhino tend to be more aggressive than their counterparts so it is not possible to get closer than a hundred metres from them; make sure therefore that you take good binoculars and a camera with a steady zoom.

Depending on how long it takes to find and view the rhino in this huge concession area it’s often the case that you enjoy a drive and some lunch and then you meet up with the rhino trackers. You’ll then be privy to all the tracker’s notes and sightings and, during a picnic lunch or coffee break, you have the chance to learn more about what they do, how they find the rhinos and where they track them in such a large concession.

 

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Camp Amalinda, Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe

The Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe is one of the last bastions of both black and white rhino in Africa. You can go rhino tracking on foot or by vehicle. The most unforgettable safari experience will be an approach up to these endangered species. This encounter is offered within the skills and knowledge of the experienced guides.

The Matobo Hills National park is mostly noted for four things - Cecil John Rhodes’ grave which is sited at World’s View in the hills, the bushman paintings found on the rocks, the wonderful rock formations, and the rhinos. Activities from Amalinda centre around the wildlife and also exploring the hills which have a definite spiritual atmosphere.  Some of the most majestic scenery in Zimbabwe is found in these hills.

 

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A new and exciting activity now on offer from Amalinda is the “Riding with Rhino”. The demise of the Rhino is hitting the world’s wildlife conservation press. The Matobo Rhino Trust together with National Parks, Matopos is lucky enough to have a number of these much loved and precious, magnificent animals.

You can cycle through the glorious Matobo National Park, with your professional private guide, in search of these endangered creatures. Cycling along in the bush makes tracking the rhino a quieter, more up-close and personal activity compared to being in the game drive vehicles.

The bicycles are top of the range and helmets are provided, as are snacks and drinks. The cycling activity can either be a full or a half day and takes place on selected National Park roads. Donations are welcome to help save the rhino and will be received by The Matopos Rhino Trust.

 

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Botswana, Okavango Delta

Due to the decline of rhino in Botswana, in 2001 Wilderness Safaris together with the DWNP (Department of Wildlife & National Parks) instigated a programme that has resulted in white rhino roaming wild and free in the Okavango Delta in Botwana. The first “crash” of white rhino arrived in November 2001, Wilderness Safaris having purchased three rhinos and Gaborone Game Reserve donating one bull.

More recently in 2013 Great Plains Conservation alongside industry partner &Beyond have committed to undertake a relocation of rhinos on a scale never seen before – to relocate 100 or more rhino from South Africa to safe havens in Botswana.

 

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This initiative is about taking rhinos from existing, high density populations which are attracting more poaching, and freeing them into the wild within a country that has low concentrations of rhino and the greatest anti-poaching record on the African continent.

The Okavango Delta has proven to be an effective rhino relocation environment and Botswana has a strong security and monitoring framework in place, with the country’s military assisting to guard these endangered species. The project is known as ‘Rhinos Without Borders,’ and is predicted to run over a number of years.

There are many other Rhino conservation projects in Africa, some of which allow you to assist conservationists in their important work. In South Africa you can even donate the cost of a rhino collar and chip and be involved in the capture, sedation, collar and chipping process - most likely saving their lives in the process.

 

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