World Rhino Day, September 22, celebrates rhino conservation efforts and also brings attention to the plight of these endangered animals. Poachers in South Africa killed 1,215 rhino in 2014 and 749 rhinos so far in 2015. And that’s just in South Africa. & Beyond, an African safari and Asian travel company, partnered with Great Plains Conservation to create Rhinos Without Borders, a program that relocates rhino from South Africa to the relative safety of Botswana.
In 2015 the program airlifted 100 of these more than two ton animals. With more rhinos killed by poachers in 2014 than were born in the wild, rhino rescue remains critical. Highly endangered, only about 4,000 to 5,000 black rhino and 20,000 white rhino remain in Africa.
Get hands-on in the conservation efforts by going on a rhino tagging safari.
After helping track the animal, you assist rangers and a veterinarian in tranquilizing the rhino, taking blood samples and inserting a microchip into his horn. If that horn ends up with poachers, the chip proves their guilt. Before the massive animal awakes, run your hands across his thick folds of skin.
The &Beyond lodge at the Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa, offers rhino tagging at select times of the year. Contact &Beyond, www.andbeyond.com. Kwandwe, another private game reserve in South Africa, also offers rhino tagging adventures as part of a four-day, three-night safari. Contact Travel Sommelier, www.travelsommelier.com.
Several national parks in Africa maintain and guard rhino. In Zambia, you can see (not tag) rhinos in the wild at Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The animals are under 24-hour armed surveillance. Another of the park’s major attractions is spectacular Victoria Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. Wilderness Safaris’ nearby Toka Leya Camp offers upmarket accommodations, park tours, and safari outings. Contact safari specialist Travel Sommelier, www.travelsommelier.com.
Conserving rhino in Asia and Africa is a critical task. Some 500,000 rhino roamed Africa and Asia in 1900. By 1970 the number plummeted to 70,000 and today only 29,000 rhino remain in the wild. Less than 100 Sumatran rhino remain in the wild and less than 45 rhino survive in Java, according to SavetheRhino.org.