World Rhino Day is just around the corner, a global raft of activities planned for 22 September - their aim to generate greater awareness of the mammals plight.
Susie Offord, Deputy Director of Save The Rhino International, comments “The world has already lost 95% of its rhinos, and the remaining few are being threatened with extinction within the next 10 years due to escalating poaching and loss of habitat.”
Acacia Africa is already a proud sponsor of Save The Rhino International, and the tour operator has lined up several parks and reserves which have made major strides in stemming the demise of one of the best loved Big Five. Safari-goers visiting Africa will most likely spot a rhino or two and they will also be making a contribution to ongoing conservation projects.
South Africa’s Hluhulwe-Umfolozi Park was originally set up to protect the last few remaining Southern white rhino. A conservation success story, Operation Rhino was put in motion way back in the 1960s, and it continues to this day, the white and more endangered black rhino being transported from the reserve to protected areas and parks across the continent. Unfortunately, poaching is on the rise in the rainbow nation, recent estimates citing increases of 50%, but despite the rhino’s continuing threat of extinction, the Kruger is still another great spot to spy these two horned beasts. Once a no show, the national park now boasts a population of over 300 black rhino and over 3,000 white rhino!
Over the past few years, Namibia’s black rhino population has grown to more than 1,500, and white rhino fans won’t be disappointed either, as a few hundred reside in the country. The main populations can be found in Etosha National Park, the floodlit Okaukuejo Rest Camp, allowing for 24/7 game viewing, with black rhino paying regular visits after dark.
Save The Rhino International is currently raising funds for Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) in Namibia, an organisation that has worked tirelessly to protect the world's largest truly free-ranging population of Critically Endangered and desert-adapted black rhino for over 30 years.
Susie Offord, comments, “With scorching temperatures, rocky terrain and vast distances to cover, protecting Namibia’s desert rhinos is an incredibly tough challenge, but now people can help the Save The Rhino Trust so that they can continue their vital work by donating to our Operation Wild and Free appeal.”
Nairobi National Park is a convenient option for anyone hoping to spy black rhino in the heart of the city. Kenya’s capital, the starting point of the small group safari, is home to 60 of these highly endangered hooked-lipped herbivores and a further 11 white rhino. Another highlight is Lake Nakuru. Originally a bird sanctuary, the park hosts over 400 bird species, including five globally threatened species, and is an important stop on the African-Eurasian Migratory Flyway. However, it also flies the flag for black rhinos, as Kenya's first national sanctuary, and it is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of black rhino.
Polokwane is the ideal place to view the wildlife on foot – a number of walking trails contained with the nature reserve. Home to 21-game species, the safari paradise boasts frequent sightings of its impressive white rhino population. A visit to Botswana’s Khama Rhino Sanctuary is also included at the end of the tour. Established in 1992, the community based wildlife project has helped to restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state. The sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.
The Moremi Game Reserve was the first reserve in Africa to be established by local residents. Concerned about the rapid depletion of wildlife due to hunting and cattle encroachment – the Botswanan people of Ngamiland, proclaimed the site a reserve in 1963. It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and with both black and white rhino having recently been re-introduced, Moremi is now a Big Five haunt!
Acacia Africa: 020 7706 4700; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.acacia-africa.com. ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED. For more details on Save The Rhino International please visit http://www.savetherhino.org/