Look at this face. Irresistible, right? Who could ever find it in their heart to hurt such a beastie?
A rhino at Samara Private Game Reserve, which is spearheading a massive antipoaching campaign (Photo: Samara Private Game Reserve)
Turns out, all too many people. One rhinoceros is killed every nine hours, according to the most current reports. So much brutality, all for poachers to sell black-market rhino horn, which Far Eastern lore imbues with mythical powers. (By the way, this has no basis in science — rhino horn is made of the same substance as horse hooves.)
Last year, the Western black rhino was officially declared extinct. Two subspecies of Asian rhinos are on the critically endangered list, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Today, on World Rhino Day, it’s time to face up to these distressing statistics and decide what we can do to avoid saying goodbye to yet another rhino subspecies. To start, we at Yahoo Travel want to shine a positive spotlight on organizations doing their utmost to look after rhinos in the wild and on preserves worldwide. To responsible safari outfits, lodges that give back, and conservation groups who give their all to these wonderful creatures: Thank you. Travelers, look for these names when you’re booking.
Shamwari Game Reserve, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, will have its own Rhino Day on Oct. 3, with a full program that involves students, VIPs, and antipoaching experts. Early in the morning, Shamwari Conservation Experience students, Wilderness Foundation VIPS, and members of the Anti-Poaching Team will head out to the reserve to do DNA testing on rhinos. Then there will be a talk at the onsite Animal Rehabilitation Centre and a short antipoaching presentation.
Shamwari Game Reserve will have its own Rhino Day on Oct. 3. (Courtesy: Shamwari Game Reserve)
Working in conjunction with Wilderness Foundation UK, Samara Private Game Reserve on the Eastern Cape of South Africa has spearheaded a massive antipoaching campaign with celebrity supporters including David Beckham; Yao Ming; and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Sarah Tompkins, one of Samara’s owners, is working with South African National Parks to establish the third-largest national park in the country.
The true face of Samara, however, is Grumps, a 10-year-old white rhino bull who was rescued from a high-risk area near Kruger National Park and relocated to the Samara reserve. Businessman Jeremy Lloyd funded the adoption and contributed an official statement saying that he hoped Grumps would “do his duty by the ladies and help Samara increase the rhino population” in the area.
The star of Samara Private Game Reserve: Grumps. (Photo: Courtesy Samara)
Another privately owned company, boutique lodge owner-operator Singita, is at the helm of a groundbreaking and quite effective antipoaching effort that uses K9 units. Different dog breeds are trained to perform different functions, ranging from patrolling reserve lands to locating injured animals to tracking down humans who have illegally interfered with animals and can be located by scent. Singita is working closely with Kruger National Park to implement K9 antipoaching efforts on a larger scale, and it’s a potentially brilliant alternative to expensive technology and tracking gear.
Luxury experiential travel group &Beyond encourages all rhino allies to participate in its rhino conservation program, Rhinos Without Borders. In partnership with Great Plains Conservation, the travel company aims to translocate as many as 100 white rhinos from high-risk areas in South Africa to the “safe haven” country of Botswana. This is a very ambitious effort, and for World Rhino Day, animal lovers are encouraged to contribute via a “Rhino Selfie” campaign on the crowd-funding site Trevolta. Donate as little as $1 and get a printout template for an “origami rhino”; then join the movement by posting your own “rhino selfie” on social media, hashtagged #rhinomove and #RhinosWithoutBorders. This is just one of many fundraising efforts that &Beyond plans toward reaching its fundraising goal of $8 million.
Stefano and Liz Cheli, owners of Elsa’s Kopje in Kenya, didn’t just build a lodge. They brought 215,000-acre Meru National Park back from the brink of total abandonment and oblivion. Poachers had decimated elephant and rhino populations in the park by the mid-’90s, but as part of a sustainable tourism plan the Chelis created in cooperation with the Kenya Wildlife Service, a high percentage of park fees and lease payments on the lodge go back into the park — specifically to KWS rhino preservation efforts, including a specialized poaching intelligence unit, an animal translocation program, and a rhino sanctuary on park grounds.
Elsa’s Kopje has brought Meru National Park back to life. (Courtesy: Elsa’s Kopje)
Natural Habitat Adventures is excited to launch a new conservation-focused rhino safari in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund. Appropriately named “Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino,” the 10-day tour includes meetings with Save the Rhino Trust staff and local conservation leaders, as well as guided bush walks to track rhinos on foot and small-group safaris in Etosha National Park.
A rhino at Ongava Private Reserve, visited by National Habitat Adventures. (Photo: Jeffrey Parish)
Save the Rhino Trust works with other well-regarded safari outfitters, including the Africa Adventure Company and Botswana’s ecotourism leader Wilderness Safaris. It is a favorite conservation group of the Yahoo editors: a small but scrappy NGO and a longtime ally of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia. While instrumental in black rhino conservation efforts, it has had to deal with some serious defamation and smear campaigns in the recent past. We wish this excellent-intentioned NGO a smoother path in the upcoming year.
It’s not just tourism companies joining the fight. High school senior Jack Jones gives all rhino allies, near and far, a way to support conservation efforts. Buy a copy of his book, Chizi’s Tale: The True Story of an Orphaned Black Rhino, and all proceeds go to the nonprofit Tusk Trust. Jack’s touching and educational tale of a young black rhino he met in Zimbabwe is appropriate for readers of all ages.
“I know this one story won’t end poaching or save every black rhino on its own, but it will help to move things in the right direction. One step at a time,” he said in a recent interview. We commend this teenager’s efforts to encourage others in taking that first step.