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Found 77 results

  1. In 2015, rhino experts agreed that there might be only 30 sumatran rhinos left: 2 in Kalimantan, few or none in Bukit Barisan, less than 15 in Gunung Leuser and same in Kay Wambas national parks. They also agreed that at this state, it was urgent to capture wild breeding rhinos and relocate them in a breeding center with at least 20 rhinos. Unfortunately, the decision maker - the Indonesian government - has not taken any decision up to know. Neither decided to send semen to Sabah to try in vitro techniques. I let you the story here: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/worst-case-scenario-there-could-be-only-30-wild-sumatran-rhinos-left/ https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/where-oh-where-are-the-rhinos-of-bukit-barisan-selatan/ https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/is-anyone-going-to-save-the-sumatran-rhino/ https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/the-fate-of-the-sumatran-rhino-is-in-the-indonesian-governments-hands/
  2. 1) Name of property and country: Grootberg Lodge, Namibia 2) Website address if known: http://www2.grootberg.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Green season, February, 2015 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? I read fantastic reports on TA about this property, their amazing view and their Himba tour. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? I did the initial research an then contacted Discover Namibia. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 4 times 8) To which countries? South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia. 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? None 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No, we were warned to be careful 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 16 cabins 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? We had a triple room with a breathtaking view over the valley. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? The rooms were comfortable and simply furnished. We enjoyed our time mainly at the communal area enjoying the views, drinks and snacks. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was fantastic and we left we recipes. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes there were different things on offer. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? Single tables, no hosting. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good and sufficient. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open 4WD. 19) How many guests per row? Up to 3 in each row. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drives were varied and depended on where we wanted to visit. We only went on a Himba tour which was approximately 5/6 hours. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Drives were concentrated mainly in the early mornings but they could be all day affairs if trekking rhino or elephants. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Very little activity in the area 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. N/A 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings. Excellent desert adapted elephants and rhino. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Excellent 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Friendly, helpful, informative. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff were extremely helpful and happy during our stay. They genuinely seemed happy to assist, were proactive in their duties and enjoyed the guests company. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Yes, it is run by the conservancy and all money raised goes back to the people. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Grootberg Lodge offers by far the best and most professional service of any of the lodges that I visited in Namibia (and I visited 15!). This is evident as soon as you enter the property. The view is to die for and makes you easily forget the "interesting" drive up to the camp. The food/service/staff/rooms are fantastic. We loved our tour to the Himba Village and would thoroughly recommend this, our guides were brilliant too! The views from the communal area were the highlight of our stay and just sitting down with a sundowner makes you question why Namibia is not busier with so many brilliant places/experiences/animals. Thank you to all the staff who assisted us during our stay. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. https://vimeo.com/144664241
  3. I received a mailing yesterday from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which was an appeal for donations for a new partnership, working with the Meru Rhino Sanctuary on a massive expansion project. They note that the rhino population was decimated in the 70s-80s but now has 61 white and 28 black rhinos living in the sanctuary. DSWT has already worked to help establish rhino sanctuaries in Nakuru and Ngulia, so this wouldn't be the first time doing this. The proposed project would address the inadequate habitats in the existing Meru sanctuary, doubling the size of the sanctuary, replacing the perimeter fence allowing for wildlife corridors and expanding the western boundary of park and building security bases throughout the sanctuary to enable patrols and protection. Long term goal is to "harbor one of the largest rhino populations in Kenya...serve as a donor to repopulate other areas where rhinos have been eradicated." Total cost is estimated at US$400,000, so understandably they're reaching out to supporters for help. I share this in case anyone else is interested in donating. I'm curious about the existing Meru Rhino Sanctuary, has anyone been, and what's the rhino sighting experience like there?
  4. Hi SafariTalk! My first Post here (sorry if there is a Topic about Lion vs. Rhino already). Been guiding 20 years in +10 countries and happy to share memories/photos. Rare sighting couple of years ago when I got good pictures of young male Lion hunting a Rhino in SA next to us. Lion not even close to succeed but great sighting for my guests. Would be great to see more pictures Lions vs Rhino... All the best! /Johan
  5. Day 1, 29th January, 2017 In a time of my life with a lot of work, I managed to squeeze in a week to Kenya this January. I didn´t had time to plan it. I just got an opportunity to for a week with short notice, and choose an old favorit, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara. I have been once before to Lake Nakuru in november 2011, and have very found memories from that time. It was wonderful sightings, and got me some fantastic safari pictures, my first . Since then I have read about the floodings that happened to Lake Nakuru. I still wanted to go there, inspired from my previous visit and fantastic photography I have seen from others in that special Akacia woods, like Greg du Toits. My first sight arriving to Lake Nakuru was a surreal landscape, it was more dead than alive. Even the wildlife seemed to be in black and white.. Since we arrived late in the afternoon we drove along the shore to the lodge. When the sun set we did catch a more alive view of the lake. The first impression was a little of chock. Lake Nakuru is really changed by the flooding. The lake is much bigger, and nowadays more of a sweet water lake. And of course there is no Flamingos. Most of the old roads are under water, and it is not possible anymore to drive around the lake.
  6. Reports www.news24.com To read the full article click here.
  7. Reports www.dailymail.co.uk To read the full article click here.
  8. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450420986/South-African-game-reserve-goes-digital-to-save-the-rhino ~ From Computer Weekly: “South African Game Reserve Goes Digital to Save the Rhino” The latest networking and IoT sensor technology has been installed in a large private game reserve bordering South Africa's Kruger National Park.
  9. http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Conservation-efforts-pay-off--in-Lewa/1056-3967976-6werv7/index.html ~ This article from Daily Nation explains that in Kenya's Lewa Conservancy there were 14 rhino births in 2016. It also notes that no rhino has been poached in the conservancy in the past three years. Lewa Conservancy has also seen a substantial increase in both Grevy's Zebra and African Buffalo populations. Author Kennedy Kimanthi attributes these successes to the excellent community relations.
  10. This is just sickening. I find this hard to believe.
  11. Last summer I went on safari to Tanzania with my family and was excited to see Serengeti. It was incredible to say the least, but one thing that bothered me was the lack of certain animals.. How come greater kudus and sable antelopes dont exist in this environment? I looked over photos of African animals after coming back and was disappointed to find out I never got to see them in SNP cause they don't exist there. I think they are the most elegant of the antelopes. Also, white rhinos were introduced into some parts of Kenya and Uganda from South Africa; why don't they do the same in serengeti? After all the animal is a grazer and there being lots of grass in serengeti it would thrive, and this would increase the overall rhino population there as currently there are only a few black rhinos.
  12. Good afternoon We have started planning for a special family holiday in July 2018 and are actively exploring Conservancies and tented safari camps in Kenya. We have already performed quite a bit of research and are interested in hearing from the Safaritalk community. Please review our below, self-developed "Safari Profile" to gain insight into our safari goals and provide us with your recommendation and reasoning for: "The single, best Kenyan Conservancy and Camp that fulfills all, or 90+%, of our safari goals." Thank you for your time to respond to our inquiry and we look forward to hearing from you soon! Best Personal Regards, Darryl & Catherine FAMILY SAFARI PROFILE: Family of 4 adults (ages 54, 53, 23 and 21) Safari Date: Mid-July 2018 Total # Nights in Camp: 7 nights & 8 full days in camp (not incl travel time to camp/Nairobi) Total # of Safari Camps: Prefer 1 Kenyan Conservancy and Camp. Will consider max of 2 Conservancies and Camps (based upon objective and additional cost) Safari Theme & Goals: Family & Photo Safari Must-See Wildlife include:Big Cats - Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, etc… Big Grazers - Elephant, Rhino, Hippo, Giraffe, Zebra, Oryx, Gazelle, Antelope Must-See Landscapes include:Sunrise and Sunsets Plains, Savannahs, Kopje Valley River, Watering Hole, Lakes Rock Cliff Close views of Mt Kilimanjaro and/or Mt Kenya Tented Camp Must-Do Safari Activities:Camp owned and operated, open-side/top 4x4 safari vehicles (4 adults + guide/driver) - e.g. modified Toyota Land Cruisers Guides must be annually trained and certified by Conservancy Private Game Drives (day and night) Off-road Game Drives Private Walking Safari with Samburu or Masai Guide Horseback Safari Sunrisers and Sundowners with panoramic views Relaxing at camp - reading, playing games, sleeping (hammock or the like), listening to music Fitness & Exercise (jogging and/or yoga) Safari Camp Preferences: Camp Location:Elevated camp position overlooking plains and savannahs with hills and mountains in background High probability for, and frequency of, in-camp encounters with large wildlife Predictable, short game drive (< 40mins) to view large wildlife Predictable, short game drive (< 1hr) to experience a variety of landscapes (see Must-See Landscapes above) Camp Style & Quality:Permanent Tented Camp that is camp equivalent of a full-service Marriott hotel or W hotelAll camp products, services, activities, and amenities are owned and operated by Camp and/or Conservancy All camp products, services, activities, and amenities are of excellent quality, function fully, reliably, and as intended “Upscale Casual” style & comfort Private & quiet camp ambience (e.g. peaceful, bright, solitude) Down-To-Earth with Family and "Locals Only vibe" “We expect our safari experience to be hot, cold, sweaty, and dirty! We expect an adventure - with reasonable comfort and amenities. Not Desired:No Excessive Glamping - we are not seeking camping equivalent of Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, or St Regis hotels “We should not feel like we are staying in a downtown full-service luxury hotel and visiting the national zoo" No "Bare Bones Camping" - quality equivalent of sleeping cots/bags and “a hole in the ground for a loo.” Close proximity to many, loud, and obnoxious tourists and traffic Daily rain, high humidity, and cloudy skies High season for mosquitoes and other biting insects General Safari Experience Questions: Based upon your recommendation and reasoning, what specific safari goals are we unlikely to fulfill? Why?What Kenyan Conservancy and Camp would you recommend to achieve those unfulfilled goals? Is there a great deal of "wildlife and landscape overlap" with your first recommendation? What is the estimated travel time between the 2 camps? What can we expect for cost per person per night (not including travel to/from Nairobi) for each camp? For each camp, what specific fees/costs are typically negotiable? non-negotiable? highly variable based upon season?
  13. As you know from my earlier post, Sweetwaters tented camp attracts a lot of Elephant, but the most frequent of the large mammals to visit Sweetwaters water hole is the Rhino, both black & white, both day & night. If you do not get to see a Rhino, even on a two or three night stay, you will have been very unfortunate.
  14. Tonight in London there is a debate between Will Travers and John Hume on the subject - SHOULD THE GLOBAL TRADE OF RHINO HORN BE LEGALISED? JOIN JOHN HUME, SOUTH AFRICA’S LARGEST PRIVATE RHINO BREEDER AND A PIONEERING ADVOCATE FOR LEGALISING HORN TRADE, WITH BORN FREE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILL TRAVERS FOR A MODERATED DEBATE BY ECOLOGIST AND AUTHOR DR. CRAIG PACKER AT THE HISTORIC ROYAL INSTITUTE OF GREAT BRITAIN I have a ticket to attend but have an injured foot and can't walk very well at the moment - so I can't attend. It would be a shame to just waste the ticket so if there is a SAFARITALKER out there who can get along to Albemarle St W1 by 7pm tonight just let me know and I will email you the ticket.
  15. Hi Safaritalkers ! Time for another trip report. This time I went my self, and the trip was a combined trip with four days in Ol Pejeta and four days in Samburu. I booked it all including private car/guide through Bush Adventure, and in Ol Pejeta I stayed in Sweetwaters and in Samburu I stayed in Sopa lodge. I left Stockholm, Sweden friday evening and had an uneventful flight with Ethiopian via Addis and landed in Nairobi in the morning. There I was picked up by my guide David and we left for Ol Pejeta. I brought my "standard" equipment kit: 2x Nikon D4, Nikon 600mm f/4, Nikon 300 mm f/4 PF, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2,8, Ricoh GR and a bean bag. Day 1, 5th March 2016 After a long drive we arrived in the afternoon in Ol Pejeta. Wasting no time, after a quick check in, we continued with a "game drive". I don´t really like that expression, but I use it because of lack of a better term. First off we were greeted by an reticulated giraff. Next thing we bumped in to a family of white Rhinos. Here is one of the adults. Wonderful sighting, and something I got used to as rhinos both black and white is seen frequently at Ol Pejeta. Another strong and impressive animal is the Buffalo. They are easy to forget as they are so common. We were still at the "Elephant Dam" and it did also offer some birdlife. A pair of Grey Crowned Cranes with chicks. And of course the Herons, Black-headed Heron and Grey Heron We turned back out to the plain and had some nice sightings of Jackson´s Hartebeest and a trio of Thomson´s Gazell. . The light was falling fast, and a pair of Impalas made beautiful posé. Common animal, but with the background and light, I was very happy with this. Heading back and just outside the lodge a couple of lionesses found a interest in a warthog in the distance. I got a couple of shots before it was to dark and we had do leave the scene. Serena Sweetwaters is a really nice lodge. Everything is well organized, very good food and good service. This was a very good first day. Good sightings, good light, and a very nice lodge. What I also like with Ol Pejete is the grass. It has a small crown (not as big as in Lake Nakuru) which I think is beautiful for photos and easier to work with than normal plains grass (like in Masai Mara).
  16. Meeting with John Hume. Whilst visiting South Africa in April and May, @@Bugs and I were invited to visit John Hume’s farm: John and Albina Hume you’ll know advocate for legal trade, (which means a sustainable supply of harvested horn where the rhino stays alive), and are anti-illegal trade activists, (which results in rhino being killed through poaching for their horns). They own and manage the largest private rhino breeding operation in South Africa, (having more rhino than Kenya.) I have interviewed John on a couple of occasions for Safaritalk, here and here. From previous communications, they knew my position: I'll admit to sitting on the fence, as an outsider looking in - I don’t have the answer. Any answer: I wish I did. I'm neither qualified nor experienced enough. But I was visiting with an open mind, an unbiased stance: wanting to learn more - unsure whether a legalised trade in rhino horn is the answer to the poaching crisis: whether it will save the rhino. But can it be part of the answer? As someone concerned with wildlife conservation issues, (but not a conservationist), someone worried about the rhino situation and the increasingly brazen poaching for their horns I’m always questioning what is best for the future of the rhino. Conservation or preservation? Trade/no trade? Sustainable use, ie harvesting of rhino horn where horn grows back and even trophy hunting? On the question of trade, (occurring illegally at present), if conservationists are undecided and there is division between them it should be of no surprise that I don’t know: For instance, Cathy Dean, director of Save the Rhino International in her Safaritalk interview here, responded to the following question One off stockpile sale vs sustainable long term trade vs no trade: which of these options provides the best possible outcome to prevent the continued poaching crisis and why? By saying… And that was my feeling arriving at John’s ranch. There is no clear best option and we must consider all options if in the best interest of the rhino’s long term viability. I was looking forward to discussing the whole gamut of rhino conservation and trade with them. But on arrival Albina wasn’t there as she was visiting her family in Ukraine. I arrived at John Hume’s ranch straight from my flight to Johannesburg: a lot of my time in South Africa would be concerned with the rhino issue and this was to be my introduction. The ranch stretches for huge distances and once upon the entrance drive, though you are aware of it being a private property, there is varied veldt: stretching vistas - it’s not a wild wide open space, no mini Kruger Park but at the same time nor is it obviously a livestock farm. It is a well managed South African game ranch of nearly six thousand hectares composed from what were formerly dozens of connecting cattle farms which John purchased to create one open space, fenced according to rules of keeping wild animals. (A farm in comparison doesn’t require special fencing and houses domestic animals.) Dotted around, grey specs distant but also much closer to the game fence are rhino. When I say dotted, I mean, you see them a lot. On John Hume’s ranch one sees a lot of rhino. It made me think what it must have been like in the early part of the 20th century, before large scale hunting, before the poaching, before rhinos were persecuted as pests: From Scientific American. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect: I had read so many negative comments about John’s ranch and his breeding practices, (I wonder how many of those critical of his methods have taken time to visit like I was doing), but I was to learn that during his twenty three years of experience, John has bred over six hundred and seventy rhinos, a world record! If there is one comment continually echoing round social media about Hume is that he is in it for the money. And yet arriving at his large but unprepossessing house, (contradictory to what I was expecting, ie a lavish safari lodge type affair), we were greeted upon the lawn by a collection of dogs and John himself, fresh from making wors with his family in the outhouse: that is where we began our afternoon. We were made to feel most welcome, no one stood on ceremony: there were no airs and graces. John may be wealthy, independently so of any possible future income from a legalised trade in rhino horn, but he is a down to earth, normal family guy who is happy to schlep around in old clothes and grind out boerewors in his garage with family and friends whilst sharing a beer and banter. After settling in we sat down with tea and talked about recent events. In the week preceding our visit, contrary to some reports, twenty six adult rhino had died following an outbreak of Histotoxic Clostridial toxaemia which was attributed to above average rainfall following a period of drought. Another nine had died recently from poaching. Since diagnosing the presence of Clostridium on the property, to date all the rhino have been fully vaccinated against all Clostridial species. In addition, since diagnosing the disease, its clinical symptoms and spreading the word, several other cases of rhino fatalities attributed to Clostridium were reported all over South Africa. Discussing these fatalities was a difficult subject - John wiped tears from his cheek: it was clear how affected he was. Especially at the death of Big Mama, his forty year old rhino cow which had mothered ten calves during her lifetime and was heavily pregnant at the time of her death: the foetus could not be saved. “I know all of my rhino.” He said, each death obviously a personal loss to him - when John Hume is so visibly moved at the death of his rhino, one cannot help but appreciate his emotional investment. At present John is financing the research and development of a Clostridial vaccine specifically for rhino which will benefit both wild and captive bred rhinos in future. When there are so many ‘rhino’ NGO’s operating in South Africa, with the intention of aiding rhino survival, how many of them are interested in inter-agency cooperation with Hume or his rhino? It became clear that a great majority of them want no connection with his work despite his long term struggle to do all he can to safeguard rhino for future generations. Why is that? We climbed into his old bakie – @@Bugs up in back with camera and lens, John driving and I sitting shotgun with his dogs on my lap, at my feet, standing on my legs staring out the window tongues lolling. John’s own story is one worth listening to: his successes as a hotelier and in a taxi business in Rodesia, (where he made most of his fortune): how he’d come to South Africa to become a developer of timeshare resorts, most of which became accredited with a gold crown, and later on, at the age of fifty following his dream to semi-retire on a private game ranch which he developed by consolidating ten run down cattle farms which he purchased next to each other, focusing mainly on rhino conservation. The sun was beginning to set and the veldt glowed in the golden light. John has both white and black rhino – with a much higher percentage of the former than latter: we drove through both habitats but only saw white. To anyone who states that his ranching practices are intensive, with unhealthy, unhappy animals kept in unsuitable and poor conditions I would ask them to prove their accusations: we saw many rhino roaming freely - none were cramped in confined conditions, (the ranch is subdivided into large, fenced “camps” – equating to thirteen acres of land per one adult rhino) – they were not under each other’s feet. And the amount of mothers and calves we saw was amazing. I am no expert but of those rhino we saw, none looked malnourished, none were kept in bad conditions as some have suggested. Yes, John told me supplementary feeding did take place out of necessity in the winter but this was no battery farm. The rhinos were dehorned but they looked to be “free and wild”, (within the ranch’s physical limitations), and more importantly, they looked to be safe. We were able to approach closely in the vehicle and throw feed to them: they were not aggressive merely inquisitive: but I wouldn’t call them tame, it’s no zoo. Driving back to the house as the light faded, I asked the cost of maintaining the current set up. Twenty four million rand a year holding costs and over three million rand for a private anti-poaching security unit, John replied. Two thousand three hundred rand per rhino, per month, give or take. He admitted he had enough to finance five more years and what then? There’s no income on his property: game auctions, once a year, (of other species), help finance approximately six weeks per annum, if not less. The rest John pays for from his own savings, after selling his timeshare resorts. And so such an undertaking is hugely expensive: the ranch employs fifty staff, (and supports their families), not to mention the rhino orphanage in which, (at the time of my visit), were nineteen calves of varying ages. Seeing first hand the work he and his team are doing with the rhino it strikes me that on his own, without outside donor funding he is doing more to protect these rhino than many other organisations can hope to achieve. That night we had dinner with John and his family, a traditional babootie accompanied by much alcohol and conversation, debating South African conservation issues long into the night, not solely the rhino question… Early morning was spent pouring over maps of the ranch, John explaining how the camps work. About rotational grazing, the quality of grass. How upon arrival, rhino would be assigned to camps depending on the area of South Africa from which they came. John would only move them once when on his ranch to increase and improve genetic diversity. Thus, rhinos from one part of the country would be introduced to those from other parts. Calves when old enough would be moved to different camps. It’s important to mix up the gene pool. The logistics of managing such a breeding operation must be immense. We looked at property boundaries and cattle farms nearby which if purchased would increase the overall size immensely. And hunched over his desk, you could hear the enthusiasm in his voice – sense him planning, coming up with new ideas, resolving problems: he is still investing in his rhino, despite no longer being in the market to buy. After coffee we bade goodbye to John at the house, (we still had the drive to Johannesburg), and stopped to visit the ranch’s rhino orphanage, where, at the time of our visit, nineteen orphaned rhino calves were being cared for by a full time vet and her assistant. Three most recently orphaned by the Clostridium outbreak, and one calf which had been delivered by c section as its mother died. A question: how many rhino calves are being cared for/raised by all the other rhino orphanages in South Africa compared to the number at John’s ranch? How many of these organisations rely on donor funding and promote themselves, their work? Seek and gain national/international recognition? Whilst on John’s ranch, the vet and her assistant quietly get on with their work with John covering all the associated costs. And since the current vet began working here over three years ago, only two calves have died having come in too sick to survive. The youngest of calves are hand reared, bottle fed until eighteen months when they are weened off milk. As they progress, these calves are settled into holding camps with sheep to which they form a family bond, more so than with the vet / her assistant. We debated whether human companionship is more appropriate, and in the rhino’s best interest, but at Hume’s ranch it is those sheep which play surrogate family. When we approached the pen in which the three youngest were kept, (and one was but a couple of weeks old), they came bouncing up to the gate squealing: they knew the vet meant food: they were like inflatable baby dinosaurs – it’s the only way I can describe them. We were not allowed any physical contact but stood above the wall the photograph them. Calling to the older calves in another pen there was a mini stampede as they came to the fence. The vet gave us permission to approach them, (obviously the fence separated them from us), but were told to make no contact with their horn, because this would present to a rhino an act of aggression. It was an emotional moment, as they nuzzled against my hand. Each of these rhino are part of the future of their species in South Africa, the whole of Africa. John has achieved an optimum intercalving period of twenty six months, while in national parks such a period takes at least thirty six months or more. John’s rhino breed naturally, unforced, so just how did this compare to the wild? What better chance do his calves have? I left John Hume’s ranch still unsure whether a legalised trade in horn is the answer to the rhino poaching crisis, aware that some put forward the point that we’ll never know until we try. Whether legal trade of a sustainably harvested product will save the rhino. But what I do know, from my own observations, (and numbers alone are evidence of it, at over 100 births per year), is that the work being done on his property with his rhino breeding operation is proving very successful in increasing rhino numbers – far more so than on initiatives elsewhere. John Hume has more than a thousand rhino comprising both black and white with the objective of two hundred births per annum, which he is close to achieving presently. He said to me, "Happy rhinos, healthy rhinos want to survive. Want to breed." And this was evidenced again and again as it seemed round every bend we saw a mother and calf, some very young indeed. How many anti-legal trade advocates have visited John Hume’s ranch? Been driven round as I had been? Sat down and discussed the issues face to face with him. Been witness to his passion, his experience, his emotions? Whilst with him, overnight, an afternoon and morning I could never have hoped to learn but a small insight into the ins and outs of such a rhino breeding operation, the complexities of the pro-legal trade argument but John took time out of his busy schedule to explain things simply to me, was patient listening to and answering my many questions, never once displaying any aggression or animosity towards to anti-legal trade advocates despite their public allegations and insults aimed at him, especially in social media circles. In truth, what can they tell him, the man who has bred over six hundred and seventy rhinos in past twenty three years? These organisations and their supporters which have grown in voice in the past couple of years? What do they know over and above that of someone with his hands on experience in rhino breeding? The one thing that divides them, the two sides, is the question of trade, which is happening anyway, illegally at present. The question of money. I wonder, will there ever be a way in which they could and would work in conjunction? For the benefit of the rhino? If legalised trade was agreed by CITES at COP 17, (with realistically a date of 2018 for implementation of a practical framework), in the interim a number of captive breeding operations, (CBOs), could be established, (not just in South Africa but other range states), based upon Hume’s model, each starting with one hundred head of rhino based upon a ratio of five female to two male. By 2018 such ranches could be bringing in rhino from other parts of the country, (through game auctions etc for genetic variation), breeding, increasing the national herd, so even if trade only worked for five years, already there would be a marked increase in rhino births. Can rhino be better protected on private land than in the wild? Based upon current evidence, one would have to say yes – John Hume, during five years managed to keep all his rhino safe from poaching until last year, when four were poached. During the same period, hundreds of NGO’s and governmental organisations have failed to save two thousand rhinos that were poached in various national parks and tourist resorts. So the question is, should there be more private rhino breeding operations working on the model of Hume’s, in which dehorning takes place? Could local communities run rhino breeding projects with direct benefit to their families to provide safe havens throughout the country? Cathy Dean, director of Save the Rhino International, in her Safaritalk interview here, responded to the following question, How important, in your opinion, is it that private owners and farmers continue to breed and maintain rhino herds in South Africa, whether they are pro trade or or not? by saying: So why is it, when some conservationists see the importance of rhino farming, that so many people, and you see their views expressed in social media, are vehemently against farmed rhinos? Without private farmers, whatever their standpoint on legalised trade, I feel the rhino would be in a much more precarious state than it is now… If current poaching numbers continue at rate which we have witnessed previously, (One thousand plus in South Africa alone during 2013), then those on John’s farm are very important to the future of rhino in Africa. At what stage will other agencies recognise this importance? When he can no longer afford to fund their care? And what if the COP decision is against trade? Will John Hume continue to manage and protect his rhino? A blunt question I put to him related to his age. John Hume is no longer a young man. He is seventy two years old. What happens to his dream to breed two hundred rhinos a year if he’s no longer able to run his breeding operation? What happens if he were to die? His response: “Why am I doing this at my age? Why not retire and live a comfortable life on the money I have – I often ask myself the same thing. My wife and children wouldn’t have the money to run such an undertaking as this. Especially if trade is not legalised. So what would happen? Perhaps they’d auction off some of the rhino in order to keep the property afloat. But where would those rhino go? What would happen to them if I die? If my family aren’t able to carry on financially with my dream?” It’s a good question he posed to me. I didn’t know. And it struck me then that yes, there is a financial interest in his project, he is hoping for a yes vote at COP 17. But he is doing it because he believes that a legalized trade in rhino horn and regular and sustainable supply of horn via harvesting where the rhino stays alive, (rather than a one off stockpile sale), will help to save the rhino for future generations. And for someone who could live extremely comfortably on his investments and personal wealth and not be involved in the stress of maintaining South Africa’s largest private rhino herd, I believe that, as important a factor as predicted future revenue from a legalised trade is, John Hume is more passionate about trying to save the rhino. Matt.
  17. Whilst "Africa" has a very active "Rhino" thread, couldn't find one for "Rhino" outside Africa, so here's a very old couple of blurry photos from the bottom of the box. I took this photo 32 years ago in Chitwan NP Nepal. Nice to see that numbers have continued to increase since then.
  18. BREAKING NEWS. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy ************************************************************************ The fight goes on, but if a sanctuary like Ol Pejeta, which has excellent security, all things considered, what hope for the rest. It is a little worrying that Ol Pejeta has now lost two Rhino in as many months. The poachers of the first were caught quickly, sadly it just shows there are always others to take their place. At the end of the day all that can be done is to tighten security where it can be tightened and soldier on. AJ
  19. We are thrilled and truly honoured to have won the Environment Award for our Botswana Rhino Conservation Project at the World Travel & Tourism Council Awards in Dallas last night. If you don't have time to watch the full ceremony (it's about one-and-a-half hours long) click on Session 5 on the home page and fast forward to 01:23 for the introduction to our project by lead judge Dr Graham Miller, and then Simon Stobbs' acceptance speech http://www.wttc.org/#. Our hugest thanks must go to to the Botswana government officials, pilots, scientists, vets, the people who build the bomas, the people on the ground who track and protect the animals. You are the true heroes...
  20. Have you thought about joining an exciting Rhinos Without Borders rhino release? It is a wild and exciting experience but a little difficult to attend. Now is your chance to join in on this amazing experience. In association with GoPro and the Great Plains Foundation, there is an opportunity that allows you to be in the midst of a rhino relocation from your sitting room. Rhinos Without Borders is a project moving 100 rhino from areas of high poaching and now drought conditions to the safety of remote regions deep within Botswana’s wilderness. With a poaching rate of one rhino every 7 hours these moves are critical to the survival of the species and using the latest GoPro technology they have produced a Virtual Reality experience that enables you to join in as if you were with us, standing alongside our experts and being talked through the process by Dereck Joubert, who is the CEO of Great Plains Conservation. We hope that you enjoy it. https://www.facebook.com/gopro/videos/10153659915031919/ This is a joint initiative between Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond. If you would like to support the Rhinos Without Borders initiative please go to www.greatplainsfoundation.com / www.rhinoswithoutborders.com
  21. http://allafrica.com/stories/201603161363.html Things start to change out there...
  22. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Nairobi Tented Camp Nairobi, Kenya 2) Website address if known: Check Gamewatchers website 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). January 11 and 12, 2016 They only charged half board for the first night of our stay since we arrived so late from our flight. They did have a meal for us at 11 PM but we had to decline since all we wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed. 4) Length of stay: Two nights. 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? We were looking for a place to stay after the long flight from the US to Nairobi where we could be out of the city and start seeing wildlife. We built an extra day at the start of our safari to make sure we had some cushion if we had bad weather at our airports in the center of the US. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Through our TO Ellie at Expert Africa. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? This was our sixth safari to Africa also in India, Sri Lanka and South America. 8) To which countries? SA, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Similar properties in other countries. We stayed at Offbeat Meru and Mara and Sosian on this trip. Many of our last safaris in Africa have been in mobile camps. 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Camp was not fenced. 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 6 or 7 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 3. 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Very nice and large tent. Flush toilet and bucket shower. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. The food was excellent. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes, there were many choices. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? The guides and managers were not in attendance. The seating is single tables. We were the only ones in camp at lunch and in the evening. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We ate all our meals in camp. They brought us requested food to our tent for an early departure to Wilson airport. 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Toyota Landcruisers. 19) How many guests per row? 3 rows with two seats, open top with canvass rolled back. 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? 6 AM until 9, then a visit to Sheldricks Elephant Orphanage then an evening safari. 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Not sure about that with our one day stay. 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? No this is a national park. There was very little other traffic with a few personal vehicles visiting. We never had more than one other vehicle at a sighting. This is the only camp in the park. There are others on the edge. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? You are right outside of the city of Nairobi. You can see the city skyline from the park but it does not affect the quality of game sighting. It actually adds to the uniqueness of the experience in our opinion. 24) Are you able to off-road? No off roading. 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Don’t know. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? They have nice populations of both black and white rhino. We had quality views of both. Spent a lot of time with a lion pride. We saw two suni, and I guess they can be seen fairly frequently. There are no elephants in the park. 27) How was the standard of guiding? The guiding was excellent. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? NA 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: We really liked our guide, Andrew. He is a Masai and is proud of his culture. He spent quite a bit of time explaining the Masai way of life. Andrew has a great personality and has great skills in both birds and mammals. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? The staff was very attentive. The manager was not very evident but it did not matter. The camp was run very efficiently. 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. You have the opportunity to visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Manor if you wish. 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: This park deserves more attendance. There is a large amount of game and some species not always seen other places. The Tented Camp is well run and handy to both the International airport and Wilson. This is a good place to stay for a night or two either at the end or beginning of a Kenyan safari. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  23. One has the opportunity of close encounters at Khama Rhino Sanctuary... With Botswana being in the news, thanks to the rhino translocation efforts of tourism operators including Great Plains Conservation, andBeyond, Wilderness Safaris and the Botswana Government, I recently put my questions to Thapelo T Baiphethi, Senior Marketing officer at Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust who has over 4 years experience working at the sanctuary. I know a number of Safaritalk members have visited over the years and hopefully this interview's focus upon the trust will encourage more to do so. To discover more about the work of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, visit the website here: www.khamarhinosanctuary.org.bw or Facebook page here. ----------------------------------------- What is the history of Khama Rhino Sanctuary? It is a community trust for people of Serowe, Paje, and Mabeleapodi established to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources. Who was involved in founding it and are they still there? What were its initial objectives? It was founded by the community in 1989 to protect the rhinos and enhance environmental education and research. How much does it cost to maintain the sanctuary annually and from where does the funding come? Six million from tourism activities offered at KRST and donations from individuals and companies. How important is the support of the Botswana Govt. and Botswana Defence Force for Botswana’s rhinos? What do they do to support the sanctuary? All the animals are from the Botswana Govt. including the ones at KRST, they have been loaned to KRST to make money out of them from tourism. BDF helps with security backups and patrols at the sanctuary. How big is the sanctuary and aside from rhino what other wildlife does it hold? It's about eight thousand five hundred and eighty five thousand hectares (8585 ha), it has over thirty species of mammals and over two hundred and thirty species of birds refer to our website; www.khamarhinosanctuary.org.bw. How is the local community involved in the sanctuary and how do they benefit from it? They are owners of the sanctuary. They benefit 95% of employment, selling of craft to the sanctuary and financial benefit of the projects when there is profit at the sanctuary. How many rhino did the sanctuary start with and where did they come from? Khama Rhino Sanctuary started with about nine rhinos, four from the Moremi game reserve in Botswana and five from the North West Parks Board, (South Africa). What has been your rhino breeding success? On the other hand, what setbacks have you experienced? To date, we have got over 50 rhinos and over 20 have been translocated to other areas of Botswana where safety is guaranteed. Issues of poaching; the intention was to restock the wild but because of poaching, translocation is only done to safety guaranteed places. What is the procedure for releasing the sanctuary bred rhino into the wild and how easily/quickly do they adapt to once release? Because of safety, they are not yet released to the wild but taken to safe places. During translocation, we involve experts to help with the capturing. What is your opinion on translocation of rhino from South Africa to Botswana by various safari companies? Botswana Govt. is active in the environment and conservation issues hence the transfer of rhinos from South Africa: it will mean safety for those rhinos to ensure continuity in rhinos breeding for future generations to benefit from and to improve the genetic pool of rhinos in Botswana. What is your approach in educating Botswana’s youth about the existence and protection of the country’s rhino population? We have an environmental education center which is visited by schools of different levels with different fees, (depending on the activities), to teach them on the importance of conservation and rhino population. They also do out reaches to teach people about protection of rhinos especially the youth, in malls, schools and during exhibitions. You can read more about the education centre here. How do we involve local schools and especially children from an underprivileged background? We offer them free visits at the sanctuary. How does the Khama Rhino Sanctuary interact with other rhino conservation organizations in Botswana? Through Botswana rhino management committee, where all people with rhinos meet on daily basis to discuss issues of rhino conservation in Botswana and through benchmarking between these organizations. Bearing in mind the huge levels of poaching in South Africa, how important is it for Botswana to have, (and increase), a viable rhino population, both black and white, and what role can the Khama Rhino Sanctuary play? Having a viable rhino population in Botswana, this will mean many years of re-stocking our region and continuous pulling of tourists into Southern Africa one of the places being Khama Rhino Sanctuary. How can Botswana do a better job of protecting a rhino population than South Africa, when historically the rhino has become all but extinct in the country? By building more sanctuaries in Botswana, which are considered safe heavens, small paddocks are considered to be more effective in managing them, South Africa has huge reserves that are not easy to manage. How do you promote the sanctuary to an international audience? What more can be done to disseminate your news and activities? Through the use of international tour operators who promote tourism to Botswana, through use of our central marketing organisation (Bots Tourism Org), through listing and linking with different international websites, through the use of Botswana President who is our patron. Direct marketing in international exhibitions is still limited. Our marketing budget is still too low to cover international magazines and listings which are expensive but have a greater influence with high target audience. What is the ratio of visitors from Botswana, versus South Africa and overseas? What are you doing to attract more foreign visitors? South Africa like many overseas countries has got a beach and is a very big country with more resources to attract more visitors. Botswana's stability and strongly active government who recognizes conservation is now helping in driving more tourists to Botswana. How easily can a stay at the sanctuary be included into a Botswana safari itinerary? We always welcome every tour operator who wants to partner with KRST in business; there is a certain commission percentage they get. Everyone remember KRST is still the best place to be...a good stop over to the north of Botswana and back to South Africa. How many visitors are allowed overnight and what is the standard of accommodation available? How much does it cost to stay with you? We allow relatively around two hundred people per day accommodated in chalet and camping. On average, on chalets, you can spend up to P800.00 per night include park entrance fees and accommodation or up to P1500.00 including an activity per couple. What are the sanctuary’s aims for the future and how do you hope to realize them? Is to make sure that the whole country knows about conservation and wildlife protection, through outreaches and awareness we will have an impact on the rhino's and wildlife's future. All images courtesy and copyright of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  24. Some news today coming from South Africa about rhino poaching. The numbers of rhinos being poached in SA have stabilised after it increased year after year from 2007. There's some optimism around the new stats. But still, with 1.175 rhinos poached it's only 40 less compared to last year and 1.175 are a lot of rhinos. 826 of 1.175 rhinos were poached in Kruger, mostly near the border with Mozambique At the same time rhino poaching in Namibia and Zimbabwe increased in 2015 by 200%, that's 130 rhinos. More info can be found all over the internet, for example: The Guardian All Africa Bloomberg
  25. Even though this is not about an African species, I do think it's at it's place in the Africa forum. One example pro-rhino traders often use is the one of the recovery of the vicuna because of the allowance in the trade of it's wool. But things might be backfiring for the vicuna, and there are some problems which are brushed aside by pro rhino traders in their argumentation, or even assumed to be completely opposite. News item from mongabay Here are a few things which caught my eye: Pro rhino traders often brush this aside, they claim opening legal trade will reduce illegal trade greatly. Mind you, vicunas were rare because of poaching, but opening legal trade apparently increased the options of poachers to market their illegal commodity. This seems to be the crux of that, it's probably not too hard to document legal rhino properly if it's still in the shape of a horn, but once it's ground down to powder, legal and illegal horn is easily mixed and hard to trace. I recently attended a talk by a South African professor who was pro rhino horn trade. He claimed that the price of legal rhino horn would be lower than illegal rhino. He didn't make clear in his talk why this would be. I asked him and he gave me an answer which was not an answer to my question, so I asked him again, and again he evaded my question. He couldn't make clear why this would be. The article about the vicuna show the opposite, illegal vicuna wool is half the price of legal wool! And at a price of $250 for 1 kg, a big incentive for poachers! You can imagine the incentive if the price is >$25,000 a kg!

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