On World Rhino Day, we reflect on the tragic fact that there are approximately 27 000 rhino left on Earth – a figure that was once close to a million at the beginning of the 19th century. The challenge to conserve these populations and reintroduce more to other areas is immense – but at Wilderness Safaris, we see this challenge as one of our reasons to believe in the work that we do.
We have been involved in rhino conservation for more than 20 years and have assisted with both white and black rhino introductions in six African countries (Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia). How we do this depends on the country, the people and the local conditions.
So today being World Rhino Day we’d like to celebrate these magnificent animals by sharing the highlights of the rhino conservation projects that we run in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia:
Black and white rhino: Understanding the differences:
South-Central Black Rhino Diceros bicornis minor Southern White Rhino Ceratotherium simum ssp. Simum
In 2001, after a 25-year absence, Wilderness Safaris moved its first rhino back into the wilds of Botswana. We have since helped to translocate 1% of the black rhino population to safety in the largest cross-border move of the species ever completed – returning both black and white rhino to the area.
The Botswana Rhino Reintroduction and Conservation Programme
The Rhino Conservation Botswana Programme– a collaboration between the Botswana government, the Department of Wildlife (DWNP), and donors, has resulted in viable populations of both black and white rhino being re-established in the Okavango Delta.
Map Ives, Wilderness Safaris Botswana Environmental Manager and Botswana’s National Rhino Coordinator, tells us about the Botswana Rhino Project and its recent successes… Click here to find out more.
Watch this inspirational video that shows the work done by the Botswana Rhino Project:
The Wilderness Rhino Experience and Education
Guests may see rhino while on game drives in the Mombo Concession. An informative talk by our Rhino Monitor on the conservation of rhino is offered to guests staying here.
Species Protected Southern White Rhino Ceratotherium simum ssp. Simum
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park Rhino Reintroduction Programme
Years of poaching took the rhino population in Zambia down from a healthy population of 5000 in recent history to being declared extinct in 1989.
There have been several efforts to reintroduce white rhino to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and Zambia. In 1994 four animals were translocated from South Africa into the park - but all three females died, leaving the sole male. In 2008, the German Government through the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the African Wildlife Foundation partnered with Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to translocate more rhino. Another four were moved from South Africa as a result; there have been seven births since then.
One of the reasons for this breeding success is that the rhino are accompanied by armed guards around the clock, along with increased park patrols. The rhinos’ food supply is also supplemented by park officers in the drier winter months, where necessary. Wilderness Safaris through Toka Leya Camp assists DNPW with fuel for patrols and supplies water to its staff base.
The Wilderness Rhino Experience and Education
Valuable tourism revenue is also brought into the park by Toka Leya guests who can view the rhino in close proximity on foot in the presence of the ZAWA (Zambian Wildlife Authority) armed guards. Today, 82% of the total Zambian white rhino population occurs in Mosi-oa-Tunya.
Species Protected: South-Western Black Rhino Diceros bicornis bicornis
The south-western black rhino is protected through our partnership with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and local communities in the form of the Torra, Sesfontein and Anabeb conservancies.
This unique rhino species persists across approximately 23 000 km2 (5.7 million acres) of arid communal rangelands in the Kunene region anchored by the Palmwag concession. By 2005, the population numbers of this species had shown significant growth to the extent that the Ministry of Environment together with SRT, private sector tourism, local communities and numerous donor organisations began restoring rhino across their historical range. Between 2005 and 2010, more rhino were released in 13 communities expanding the range by over 20%.
The Wilderness Rhino Experience and Education:
Guests visiting Desert Rhino Camp have the unique opportunity to track black rhino by vehicle and then on foot in the company of armed guides and trackers from SRT. By taking part in this activity, and indeed, just by staying at the camp, all guests contribute towards the protection and conservation of this species.
Did you know?
This population of rhino is one of the world’s most important populations of free-roaming and wild black rhino that have survived outside of a formally protected area.
Can you recall a special rhino sighting that you have had?
Share your best memory with us in our comments section below…