There are not many countries in Africa where one can go rhino tracking on foot, but happily Namibia offers just that opportunity! Especially with rhino having become so heavily poached for their horns (more than two per day), what was an animal that was perhaps once slightly taken for granted, has now become an icon for most safari goers to see and is now highly endangered.
The desert dwelling black rhino Diceros bicornis exists in the Damaraland region in northern Namibia and one can track it on foot with expert guides and trackers whilst staying at a wonderful, tented camp. This is one of the most exhilarating experiences that one can possibly imagine - especially viewing them at close quarters. It is without a doubt, one of life's greatest experiences.
Venture out each day by vehicle at first light and see the colours changing across the landscape. A member of the ‘Save the Rhino’ campaign will accompany you and your guide as you cross miles of desert, through valleys and over ridges before sighting a rhino. You will then leave your vehicle and track the animal carefully and silently on foot. When you are closer but at a safe distance, you will have 10 minutes to take photos before heading back to the vehicle.
Whilst you are out, it is inevitable that you will see other desert adapted wildlife such as springbok and mountain zebra, perhaps elephant and lion, giraffe and even hyena. The tracking could take several hours so you will spend the full day observing desert-adapted wildlife with a packed picnic lunch.
As you cross vast open plains you will see the scattered euphorbia, short grasses and bottle plants that look like giant tubers and welwitschia – the oldest plants in Africa. The landscape is harsh yet compelling, starkly beautiful and uniquely Namibian. There are some good birds here too, Ruppells Korhaan and Herero Chat.
Trackers and guides from ‘Save the Rhino’ as well as from National Parks and private reserves across the country from Kunene in the north through to Erongo (north and north-western Namibia), guard these incredible animals and are totally dedicated to their protection.
The size of the protected area is around 25 000 km2. Palmwag concession is just one of the noteworthy areas to encounter the rhino but one does have to be patient. This concession covers 450 000 hectares of harsh yet beautiful landscapes. ‘Save the Rhino’ offer field patrols together with monitoring and spending time with the rangers which gives one an extra insight into their work to protect these magnificent animals.
Though the black rhino is called black, it is in fact grey to brown in colour. It is also called the ‘lip hooked rhino’ and its range spans across eastern and southern Africa. It is considered that there are several subspecies of rhino, three of which are already extinct, including the Cape Rhino and North eastern black rhino. The rhinoceros looks prehistoric and long may it survive with help and protection from these dedicated groups.
Learn even more about the smaller flora and fauna that live in this incredibly harsh environment. Adaptation to the desert environment is the miracle of all that survives here.
For more experiences on offer in Namibia, visit Namibia - the best value luxury safari holiday for 2016.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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