October 2014 – As Africa’s leading ecotourism company, Wilderness Safaris is committed to delivering immersive wildlife experiences that leave guests with a deeper understanding of both the environment, and themselves. One of the ways this is achieved is through offering life-changing opportunities to track some of Africa’s most threatened species on foot.
“Viewing wildlife on foot provides a completely different perspective of animal behaviour, how they and other species fit into the ecosystem, and some of the factors that threaten their survival”, says Chris Roche, Chief Marketing Officer. “Somehow you achieve a far more intimate and meaningful engagement, whether this is because you are outside of your own comfort zone, or simply because you have a more tangible or visceral experience when you feel immersed in their habitat.”
Some of Wilderness Safaris’ unique tracking experiences that help raise funds for conservation initiatives, as well as boost awareness and in doing so inspire positive action, include:
Leatherback and loggerhead turtles – Rocktail Beach Camp (Maputaland, South Africa)
Every summer, hundreds of leatherback and loggerhead turtles complete their breeding cycle and emerge from the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs – incredibly returning to the exact beach on which they themselves hatched. From mid-October until mid-March, guests can join the turtle monitors on one of their nightly patrols and witness this amazing spectacle. During the excursions, the turtle monitors look for nesting females or hatchlings (depending on the time of year), recording GPS details, taking measurements and tagging those they locate.
Black rhino – Desert Rhino Camp (Palmwag Concession, Namibia)
Tracking desert-adapted black rhino on foot together with highly skilled Save The Rhino Trust (SRT) trackers based at camp allows our guests an unparalleled insight into the desert ecology of these incredibly adapted and highly threatened animals. The seemingly inhospitable lunar landscape reveals its nuances and secrets beneath your feet as you explore the rocky desert in search of this unique population. Our partnership with SRT has been instrumental in helping this seminal organisation achieve many conservation successes in this remote and harsh environment.
Western lowland gorilla – Ngaga Camp (Odzala-Kokoua, Congo – Brazzaville)
Deep in the Congo rainforest, guests can track and observe the habituated lowland gorilla groups located in the area around camp. Tracking excursions range in length and duration, but maximum viewing duration of any gorilla group is one hour per day. Gorilla viewing protocol is based on the guidelines issued by the IUCN for great ape viewing and is designed to limit stress and behavioural impact, as well as potential disease transmission from humans to gorillas. The whole raison d’etre of the camp is to use the mechanism of ecotourism to help conserve this Critically Endangered species and guests in camp are the only visitors for millions of hectares of pristine rainforest.
Interactive bush walks are also offered at most of Wilderness Safaris camps throughout Botswana,
Zimbabwe and Namibia, including opportunities to track white rhino with the Zambian Wildlife Authority at Toka Leya Camp and unique Bushman walks from Kalahari Plains Camp.