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You are currently browsing the archives for the SAVE OUR RHINOS! category.

Archive for the ‘SAVE OUR RHINOS!’ Category

Oh how I am fraught with angst! This morning I read an article No Trade in Rhino Horn by Jason Bell (Tourism Tatler) – a man who is at the coal face of anti-poaching initiatives. His resume reads: Dual role as Regional Director Southern Africa and of the Elephant Programme, Jason Bell is responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating campaigns and programmes for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and provides leadership for IFAW’s global elephant crisis. www.ifaw.org

lone rhino

I whole heartedly agree with Jason, in that rhino hunting is not an option. But I’m not so sure that rhino horn farming not – yes it is such an alien concept for us to fathom for such a vivacious animal, and is certainly not what ‘conservationists’ had ever intended for these utterly awesome leviathans of the African bush, but we need to put old conservation theologies and sentiments aside as drastic action is required right now to save this species. In Jason’s article he says “ Why is it, in this day and age, that we continue to cling to archaic traditions, beliefs and practices?” I assume that he is referring to the desire for rhino horn to treat ‘aiments’ (and I’m using this as a very broad term) that has no medicinal benefit whatsoever. Agreed.

The problem I see here is ingrained beliefs in the well ‘magic’ of things which simply sticks in the minds of many. In South Africa we have iSangoma’s – herbalists and some would call these traditional healers witch doctors, as these soothsayers (some) can also tell your fortune, help you with problems of the heart, and can even put ‘bad juju’ on you! In Western civilization this ‘muthi’ (medicine) is discounted entirely as poppycock, however in the hearts and minds of many South Africans, the iSangoma can cure many ‘ailments’ (again that broad term) even Aids, and so many people, ‘in this day and age’ will discard modern medicine (anti-retrovirals) and religiously take what the sangoma has prescribed. It’s hard to fathom, but when someone believes in the ‘power’ of this muthi, it is almost impossible to change their minds.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not trying to belittle the importance of the sangoma in the community. Many of these traditional healers provide excellent natural remedies for many illnesses – information, potions, poultices and infusions, passed down from generation to generation and even big pharmaceuticals are looking to the ingredients within these herbal concoctions for ways forward and ingredients for modern medication. But that's a whole other discussion.

Understanding the influence and importance and status of traditional healing and the iSangoma within our own communities, the same can be said in Asian communities in the ancient belief that rhino horn will cure cancer, or that rhino horn is the ultimate status symbol (an ingrained philosophy whereby one ‘gains face’ or respect from peers) It’s something that defies logic, but yet cannot be brushed aside – wow it’s such a long and arduous process that there is no end in sight for the ‘education’ that rhino horn is merely ‘finger nails’ and that the intrinsic value of a rhino alive is more important than one's status, in a society where status is paramount - when all you see as the end user is this powdered stuff (I presume) and not the big wonderful creature that is an iconic symbol of Africa. (…. and that's not taking into consideration the horns as adornment and prized gifts, yet another area of the poaching industry).

Although agreed that this ‘educating process’ goes hand in hand with conservation. Rhino farming (NOT hunting) just might help stave off the complete loss of rhino – no one actually knows what the greater effect will be – and yes, rhino farming will be a costly exercise to set up basic practices and codes of conduct and legislation and, and, and – there is no easy solution here - but is this the interim solution, so that rhinos are seen to be of value to be kept alive. It goes against the grain of every conservationist I’m sure – even us lesser mortals who are not at the coal face, yet love the wilderness with every fibre in our being. Rhinos at present are more valuable dead than alive – this needs to change.

Also in this article (www.tourismtattler.com/no-trade-in-rhino-horn/) – Rhino Poaching Stats in South Africa by Province, indicating rhino deaths versus the arrests made:

rhino poaching statistics update three
KNP = Kruger National Park, MNP = Mpumalanga National Park, KZN = KwaZulu-Natal, source: www.wessa.org.za

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February 14, 2014 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

Caroline, a business colleague, has sent me a rebuttal to a blog post that I wrote regarding Rhino Horn Farming as a possible solution to stem the slaughter of rhino that is currently taking place in South Africa.

I will agree that the thought of rhino being ‘farmed’ does not inspire, as these incredible grey horned beasts are best silhouetted against the blood red of an African sunset roaming free. However, rhino farming ‘may’ be a solution to tip the scales and save the species. By legalizing the trade of rhino horn and flooding the market with stockpiled horn, might just give respite to the rhino which is now facing the threat of rapid extinction. However this is an ‘unknown’ area and the stakes are high as Caroline points out in her article.

Another possible solution that Caroline highlights, which has been met with some success, is 'treating' the rhino horn, which does not affect the animal, but will certainly have an adverse effect on end users.

Is this the solution? Don’t hurt, maim or kill our rhino otherwise we’ll hurt you!? It certainly feels like an option when you hear of a female rhino found blundering around in the Kruger Park, the front of her face hacked off, half a tongue, as well as blind from her wounds – desperate, terrorized, left to starve to death. One certainly doesn't feel much ‘love’ towards the end user when you are faced with such brutality. Do they not know? or do they not care?
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The Rhino Debate – to trade or not to trade?

Article submitted by: Caroline Mason (Mad4Life)

Rhino are being poached in ever increasing numbers to feed an illegal market in South East Asia. An illegal market in a substance that as no proven medicinal benefit, a substance that is used as a cure-all and more recently, as an expression of wealth and affluence by a burgeoning middle class, mainly in China and Vietnam.

The recent spike in poaching occurred in 2008 and numbers have increased each year. So far this year, 205 rhino have been poached for their horn.
If the current rate of poaching continues in 2013 conservationists have said that South Africa may lose as many as 888 rhino this year alone!

So why did the poaching numbers jump in 2008? One possible reason could be that a Vietnamese government official publicly stated that his cancer had been cured by his use of rhino horn. This coincided with a change of premiership in South Africa, and not forgetting the increasing number of Chinese diaspora in Africa in general.

So, how do we save the rhino?

Legalize the trade in horn, Mr John Hume, the owner of the largest rhino farm in South Africa, proposes opening a legal trade in rhino horn. He proposes to breed rhino on reserves to bolster species numbers and allow the farmers to dart, remove and sell the horn. He is not advocating putting all rhino into farms. He says it is imperative to have free roaming rhino thriving in their natural environment with adequate protection against poaching – defense force, anti-poaching units, and funding for anti-poaching aerial surveillance etc. Alongside this, the government still need to embark on massive educational campaigns.

Rhino de-horning In preparation for trade and, in an effort to deter poaching, rhino farmers and others have taken to de-horning their rhino. However, apart from the possibly detrimental effect this has on the ability of the rhino to defend themselves, this practice does not deter the poachers. When a rhino is de-horned, the ‘nub’ (growing base of the horn) remains with the rhino. Unfortunately, this is the most desirable part of the horn as far as the consumers in the South East Asia are concerned. And subsequently, de-horned rhino have been poached, just for this small amount of horn. 

There are various unknowns here…

  • In addition to de-horning, horn shaving is also performed – the rhino is anesthetized every 18 months or so and shavings are removed from the remaining horn. What effect does this frequent use of anesthetic have on the rhino? (John Hume did advise that as is the case with humans, there is always a risk with anesthetic.).
  • Nothing will happen on external trade until 2016 when CITES next meets (in South Africa) and even then there are no guarantees that CITES will allow trade. What happens in the meantime? 
  • Who will the horn trading partners be? Will they be the very people behind the current illegal poaching? Hardly an ethical practice.
  • The proponents for the trade say that the farmers will be able to supply the demand for horn and therefore save the rhino from extinction. How can anyone know this when we do not know what the actual demand is?
  • Constant talk of trade is just gearing up the potential market, which in turn gears up the poaching rate – stoking the fire.
  • There is also the worry that ‘consumers’ are more interested in 'fresh' horn than stockpiled ‘old’ horn.

Many believe that farming rhino will NOT stop the poaching; in fact, they believe it will actually make the problem worse and at the same time make detection of illegal horn more difficult with both legal and illegal horns openly for sale – this has happened with ivory.

If a point came where there were more farmed rhino than rhino in the wild, the CITES protection level would be down graded, meaning that those left in the wild could be hunted and poached with impunity, with less funds dedicated to anti-poaching, conviction rates and sentencing would be even lower!

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says (of opening trade)

"It'll just make a few people in South Africa incredibly rich and will effectively give the thumbs-up to Asian markets that it's okay to consume rhino horn, spreading acceptance and increasing demand further." They go on to say "And while those few sit on major stockpiles of rhino horn, cash-in on such a trade, others will understand that it's always far cheaper and easier to poach the creatures and launder the horns through a 'legitimate' supply …".

South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has thrown her weight behind the calls for legalization of trade in rhino horn, saying "The reality is that we have done all in our power and doing the same thing every day isn't working." 

This graph shows poaching incidents versus arrests. One could deduce from these figures that a lot more could be and should be done. Last year particularly looks a very poor effort. Most of those arrested are the actual poachers. For those who are arrested, the punishments need to be much harsher. More effort needs to be made to find and arrest the few gang-masters driving these crimes. The authorities in South East Asia know who these people are. 

The law on hunting permits has been particularly lax – allowing gangs to use Thai prostitutes as pseudo hunters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that now eastern Europeans are being used for this purpose. There should also be a nationwide computerized permit system. Currently each state has its own system – there is no interconnect with other states.

If trade is allowed and the poaching continues as EIA fear it will, will we be able to stop the trade?

What other measures are available?

There is an alternative, which, so far, has worked well in protecting rhinos from poaching – horn treatment.

This process involves injecting a mix of ectoparasitacides and indelible dye (visible on an x-ray scanner even when ground to a fine powder) into the horn of the rhino. In addition, a DNA sample is taken and added to a national database. The aim of the database is to aid the legal community in securing prosecutions by supplying information on the source of a horn or parts of a horn found on a suspect.

Local communities are encouraged to attend the treatment sessions – this participation and engagement is seen as important for the success of the project – local knowledge gets the word out – and can also help in the longer term in giving the nearby communities a stake in the wildlife.

Prominent signs are displayed at all establishments informing the public that the rhinos’ horns have been treated and warns against human use of treated horn. At the time of writing, there have been just over 100 horn treatments performed by Lorinda Hern and her colleagues at the Rhino Rescue Project. The cost of each treatment, which lasts 4 years, is approximately R 8,000. Most importantly of all, this treatment has a 100% success rate – not a single rhino, which has received the treatment, has been poached.

For more information visit Rhino Rescue Project

So, which way to turn?

Do we have many more rhino on farms, open trade in stock piled horn, trade in horn shavings and hope that the rhino are not poached; or do we treat the horns, allow the rhino to roam free in the reserves, allowing tourists to marvel at this prehistoric and iconic animal and, at the same time, make more strident efforts to educate and enlighten the end users that rhino horn is of no medicinal benefit, nor is it a display of wealth and affluence. And of course, tightening up on anti-poaching activities and ensuring tougher sentences at the same time.

From a personal point of view, formulating policy on the advice of those who have a vested interest in that policy is something I do not agree with. It is akin to allowing the foxes to guard the chicken coup. I believe that opening trade in rhino horn is both ethically and morally wrong.
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April 11, 2013 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

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I'm almost nervous to say the words 'rhino farming' – such an alien concept to me, when I am only used to thinking of rhino as wild creatures roaming free, but what animal is free in today's world, we've left so little land for wilderness and wildlife.

Sitting in a crowded room last night listening to the largest private owner of rhino's in South Africa, John Hume, present his case in favour of rhino farming, it did seem a bit one sided, Mr Hume did refer to the dreaded 'greenies' which got my hackles up, as I tend generally to side with the 'greenies', but as I listened, his argument in favour of rhino farming made sense.
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The crux of the matter, is that rhinos are worth more dead than alive and that situation needs to be flipped on it's head.

A lot of dates and facts and figures were bandied about on slides, which showed that South Africa had a number of years when poachers didn't need to infiltrate our reserves and hack at our herds, because they were getting their sources from elsewhere (oh poor Africa how she bleeds) via various means, many rather dubious to say the least. As poachers looked elsewhere to find horn as their resources began to dwindle (for various reasons) South Africa became the focus of attention. Steps to halt/control the commercial enterprise around rhino and rhino horn trade were instituted to try to curb the movement/sale of rhino horn by poaching syndicates – this was done in good faith to try to protect the rhino, however it appears to have had the opposite effect by making the 'goods' harder to obtain, the price has gone up, and therefore rhino horn is all the more attractive to poachers and syndicates.

In South Africa recently, the 'Threatened or Protected Species Act' meant that farmers needed permits for all processes pertaining to their rhinos – a permit to anaesthetize a rhino, a permit to move a rhino, a permit to remove a rhino horn, a permit to store the rhino horn and so on – prohibitive and costly for farmers. The second step was another piece of legislature by government on a moratorium on the sale of rhino horn. Rhinos are now 'unattractive' to farmers and more attractive to poachers and poaching syndicates and the inevitable result of raising the black market value of rhino horn.
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Mr. Hume laid out a number of facts with regards to rhino poaching and farming:

  • The ban on trade in rhino horn has been in place for 35 years and it has had no impact on poaching – rhino numbers have continued to reduce at an alarming rate. 
  • In the 1960's it was estimated that throughout Africa there were around 100 000 rhinos. In the 1970's numbers were down to 65 000. The ban on rhino horn trade came into effect in 1977 to try to stop this downward spiral and it has had no effect whatsoever. Today it is estimated that there are only 20 000 rhinos remaining, based on whether the numbers in the Kruger National Park are accurate. The last credible count on rhino numbers in the Kruger Park was done in 2007. Another credible count of Kruger's rhinos needs to be undertaken to establish actual numbers – everyone hopes that there are still at least 10 000 rhinos in Kruger – IF NOT – the situation for rhinos is far more dire.
  • Mr Hume's aim is to breed 200 rhino a year in captivity. From experience he knows that the majority of the calves will be born male. So from 200 lets just say that there will be 110 males born and 90 females born. Mr Hume only requires approximately 10 of those males to service (or impregnate) the 90 female rhino. What is to be done with the surplus male rhinos?
    At the moment Mr Hume keeps all of the male rhinos on farms and looks after them – they are supplementary fed – but this is hugely costly for farmers.
  • Typically poachers (and hunters) take an adult rhino at around 8 – 10 years of age – this is when their horn is large and the poacher can get about 6-7kgs of horn from the animal. However in a rhino's life time he can produce about 60kgs of horn as his horn once removed will grow back again. A rhino can live for 40 years! Would it not be better for the males to be viewed as having commercial value as their horns can be harvested.
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Mr Hume's points on 'WHY LEGALIZE RHINO FARMING'

  • Consumers have the option of buying from legal, ethical and controlled sources, instead of from the poachers!
  • If rhinos have commercial value (both male and female) via controlled farming methods, the assistance from local communities who can become involved in rhino farming will be significant, in that a rhino alive will bring in much needed income and will be a more sustainable income than what poaching can provide. Community buy-in (excuse the pun) is essential, as poor communities are tempted to poach as the income generated is substantial.
  • Male rhinos have the 'guillotine' hanging over their heads because females are more valuable and there are 'too many' male rhinos in relation to the female numbers. However if the male horn can be farmed there is now a commercial value and an incentive to keep rhinos alive. They become worth more alive than dead.
  • Many species have gained stature throughout the world by allowing humane farming for commercial value.
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Mr Hume also pointed out that it is not difficult to re-introduce 'farm' rhino that are fed via supplementary means, back into the wilds. Rhino are one of the few species that have little difficulty moving from captivity and reverting back into a wild state with relative ease. Once the scourge of poaching has been minimized by the legalization of trade in rhino products, then these captive numbers can be re-introduced into the wilds once again.

All this talk about money is rather sickening, but it is naive to think that people will value wildlife simply for the intrinsic value that all living creatures including humans have in this world.

South Africa doesn't want to replicate the failures of other countries to protect their rhino, because the fact is, at the moment we are loosing the war on rhino poaching. Drastic measures are required and perhaps controlled farming is the drastic step needed. 

We still need the anti-poaching units, and yes more than ever we need education, but education is a long term approach and we need an immediate solution to stop the extinction of our rhino.

We do not want their beauty to simply be the stuff of legends as we sit around a camp fire and tell stories of magnificent beasts that once roamed the length and breadth of Africa.

How do you feel?

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Africa Cries Film Production Company produces short films on the endangered species of Africa to assist with education through this medium.

The short film and story that was presented to the audience at the start of the evening, of Rhineo & Juliet tells a humanized tragic tale of the plight of the rhino in Africa. It is an emotional production to educate and influence by being graphic and informative.
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March 21, 2013 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

 

 

We're basically at the end of 'Responsible Travel Week' and I nearly missed it! In the sense that one needs to sometimes 'put a spoke in the hamster wheel' to slow down for a moment to give this truly valuable 'way-of-travel' due consideration.

How are we incorporating responsible travel into our travel business?

Well… at the core of who we are as individuals (not as a business) are responsible travellers ourselves. We like to go-local and support local wherever we can. We were introduced to our new UK representative, via a business called "Mad4Life" which is a Responsible Volunteering organization with a focus on helping local under privileged communities to foster an appreciation and value for the 

 

wilderness, and in turn supporting the local communities as well. The girls at Mad4Life are awesome and we hope to be able to support their programmes in the future. We are an on-line travel business, and although we do not specialize in Responsible Travel, we do our best to seek out businesses and endeavor to support businesses that have responsible tourism at their core.

Rhino Ambassador Trail
One such OUTSTANDING experience that ticks all the 'responsible' boxes and is a life-changing experience to boot, is our Rhino Ambassador Trail.

This is a true wilderness experience, on foot in a pristine game reserve in South Africa. It doesn't only tick all of the responsible boxes, it ticks many others as well – adventure, authentic safari and is unique

The trail also goes one step further: By viewing rhino – these incredibly large and beautiful creatures in their wild habitat the hope is that one is so enthused by the entire experience that you will take home the 'fire' to spread the word about the large scale slaughter of rhino that currently afflicts Africa. The more who know and care, the more pressure our government will be under to find a solution to the problem. 

Buzz Words

There are so many buzz words floating around – Green Travel, Eco-Travel or Eco-Tourism, Responsible Travel, Sustainable Travel, Ethical Travel, Fair Trade in Travel … etc. and each 'title' is defined slightly differently, but they all have a common thread – tread lightly on the earth and be mindful of your impact – buy local goods – fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts – eat at local restaurants and pubs, hire a local guide etc. Treat others as you would want to be treated, have empathy and try to understand the issues facing the people of that country, listen. learn and grow. Embrace other cultures and be mindful of local pride. 

South Africa has a wonderful word 'Ubuntu' – a single word that encompasses a whole host of emotions, but essentially it is the spirit of community – care and respect for each other. So we'd like to give Responsible Travel another little buzz-tag to be remembered by – Ubuntu Travel (the spirit of caring travel).

Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained Ubuntu in 2008 as such:
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."

We love the way Archbishop Tutu summed up a concept which has many varied explanations. If we feel separate from other humans, our disharmony with the natural world is a hundred fold. What we do affects the whole world! If we travel responsibly, it spreads out, and is good for every creature on the plant (not only us humans). 

Nelson Mandela also said at one time that by being the best we can be and being positive, we unconsciously allow those around us the opportunity to shine – again the concept of real connections with strangers, on the path to greater enlightenment for us all.

Throughout Africa the ethnic concept of Ubuntu has different names, but is essentially the same, in Malawi it is 'uMuthu', In Kenya and Tanzania it is 'utu', in Zimbabwe the word is 'unhu' and so it goes on…. 

Do you have something similar in your own country, a word that is descriptive of a 'spirit of community and caring' that is unique to your country (or area) please share and connect with us – we'd love to know!

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Responsible Travel Week: 11 – 17 Feb 2013
Planeta.com are holding an unconference - 
Ron Mader, Planeta.com's founder and editor:
"A meeting driven by the people who take part. Responsible Travel Week is a friendly free confab that takes place online and around the world through a series of local events organized by participants. 2013 Is the fifth year for Responsible Travel Week. The motto of RT Week 2013 is Redo, Re-Imagine and Remix. Participants are encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to travel and ethical behavior, to consider ways in which tourism benefits locals and visitors alike, and most importantly in an era of the social web, to build on one another's efforts, to literally remix media in ways that enlighten and embolden."

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February 15, 2013 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

618 Rhinos killed to date in South Africa, but this number doesn't take into account the lost rhino calves or orphans that have also perished

It has been some time since I have written anything pertaining to the rhino killing madness that is gripping South Africa. However today I received an update from the International Rhino Foundation, and I am still reeling from the shocking statistics.

  • Every 13.4 hours a rhino is lost!
  • As of today 618 rhinos have been killed in South Africa
  • This is the worst poaching crisis in 30 years in South Africa
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Every 13.4 hours! This is devastating information. How can we convince Asian populations (particularly Vietnam and China) that our rhinos have infinitely more value to the entire human race alive and roaming the African wilderness than dead and used in dubious potions that have no effect whatsoever.

How can we help? Here are 8 suggestions.

(1) Keep abreast of the facts and actively be a Rhino Ambassador – talk to your friends, family and colleagues. I'm often called 'the hippy' in the family because of the stuff that comes out of my mouth, but I don't care, just as long as I'm passing on the information and making others around me aware of the situation. 

(2) Encourage schools, groups of friends and businesses to 'step out of their comfort zone' and truly immerse themselves in nature and wilderness. Join a Rhino Ambassador Wilderness Trail, an initiative of the Wilderness Leadership Foundation. Viewing wild rhinos on foot and surrounded by wilderness, you will fall in love with these enormous creatures and discover some truths about yourself en route.

Many incredible organizations fighting for the rhino's survival as a species always need more funding – any donation small or large grows the pot – the more money they raise the more effective their anti-poaching initiatives are.

(3) This year, many of my family and friends (well the too-old-for-Santa bunch anyway) are not getting Christmas gifts per say, I'll be donating to a rhino initiative on their behalf. I know they will be chuffed with this instead of another bottle of red wine or some such token Christmas gift. I've never been the best at Christmas gift purchases so I'm sure they will pleased as punch with this year's gift donation.

(4) Donate: Stop Rhino Poaching Now
In 2013 the International Rhino Foundation will begin working with partners to spread the word that 'Using Rhino Horn is NOT cool'.
Other programmes that the IRF have been involved in with South African partners - Endangered Wildlife Trust - is the training of sniffer dogs and handlers. The dogs are trained to sniff out snares, track poachers and find rhino orphans. The IRF also partnered with security experts in South Africa to provide advanced training to rangers in hand-to-hand combat, intelligence gathering, evidence collection, rhino identification monitoring and more.

(5) Donate: Project Rhino KZN
A co-ordinated effort by like minded organizations to pool resources and co-ordinate activities to fast track urgently needed anti-poaching and conservation interventions, to eliminate rhino poaching and secure the rhino populations in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

(6) Purchase: Rhino Army merchandise
Rhino Army, endorsed by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, a registered charitable organization that is actively raising funds and implementing rhino conservation projects in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province. The merchandise being sold by Rhino Army make excellent Christmas gifts and they really stand for something important. When Christmas is so commercialized, these are gifts with a difference. The funds raised support Wildlands projects to counter the sophisticated poaching syndicates, namely Project Rhino Tracker and Project Rhino Aerial Support.
PS I have seen Rhino Army's merchandise personally and the t-shirts and caps are good quality and stylish, as is the car badge which is a wonderful rhino ambassador pledge (if you like).
Please remember Rhino Army are always looking for opportunities to sell their merchandise – particularly in KZN where they can travel more easily to fairs, school functions, fetes and fund raisers to display and sell.

(7) Follow the Wildlands Conservation Trusts' Rhino Parade – a fund raising initiative aimed at highlighting the rhino crisis through the use of celebrities and three-quarter life size rhino sculptures. This is a tangible initiative to capture the imagination of young and old alike.

(8) Report any incidents of rhino poaching or tip-offs to 0800 205 005.
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Become a rhino ambassador in your own way! We'd love to hear what you are doing.

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Good News!
A Memorandum signed between Vietnam & South Africa

South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Vietnam's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Cao Duc Phat to combat rhino poaching. Co-operation between Vietnam and South Africa is a vital step towards curbing rhino poaching, the MOU will involve exchange of visits of experts and delegations for collaborative projects.

More Good News!
High-tech Aircraft to fight poaching in the Kruger National Park

South African National Parks announced the launch of a state-of-the-art aerial surveillance solution which will aid in the fight against rhino poaching within the Kruger Park, one of the 'hardest hit' parks in the country (400 rhino in Kruger Park alone). This specialist aircraft, The Seeker Seabird was donated to the Park by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. The Foundation is also to provide SANParks with guidance and solutions from the Paramount Group, which is Africa's largest privately held defense and aerospace company.

A similar strategy is to be implemented in Kenya, with unmanned surveillance drones to monitor and protect their critically endangered rhinos from the poaching scourge in Africa. Ol Pejeta is a 90 000 acre private wildlife conservancy in Kenya's Laikipia District which currently holds FOUR of the world's LAST REMAINING seven northern white rhinos! The conservancy is in the process of raising funds for the drone, which will track rhino that will have a live-streaming camera to track rhinos chipped with radio frequency tags. Kenya reserves are sanctuary to the world's third largest rhino populations.

Rhinos, one of Africa's Big Five are being killed by ruthless syndicates, now estimated that a rhino is being poached every 13.4 hours in South Africa

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December 12, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

Ray Phiri signs his 3-quarter life size rhino at King Shaka International Airport in Durban, 4th Oct

Wildlands Conservation Trust continues with its celebrity focused Rhino Parade Campaign, to raise awareness of the escalation in recent years of rhino poaching throughout Africa, and to allow ordinary South Africans to connect with their sporting and cultural heroes.

The decimation of wildlife through poaching is certainly not restricted to rhino, but it is the rate at which the rhinos are being killed, that is unprecedented. It is widely believed that rhino horn is being stock piled, in the event that rhino's will actually become extinct, and therefore the price of rhino horn will literally sky rocket. This is scary stuff!

Rhino Ambassadors

Rhino Ambassadors share a combined agony! Please share our stories with friends and family and create new ambassadors – each person influenced and aware will in turn influence another.

Corporate Involvement

We honestly believe that the Rhino Ambassador Trail for a corporate activity is an awesome option – not only is there the element of support of an organisation that has worked tirelessly to showcase the value in conservation and wilderness to less privileged communities (the Wilderness Foundation), the trail is also themed to highlight one of the most pressing issues in South Africa today, as there is the very real threat of rhino extinction if all our combined efforts do not prevail.

The trail is also a roller coaster ride of experiences – vulnerability, responsibility, thrilling encounters, team work, and the benefits of nature are well documented.

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss the trails with us in more depth – fiona@intriguingafrica.co.za

Ray Phiri Unveils his 3-Quarter life size rhino sculpture

Ray Phiri leading South African songwriter, musician, producer and social justice activist, unveiled his 3-quarter life size rhino sculpture at King Shaka International Airport recently, on the 4th Oct.

Ray has lead a colourful life, and has received numerous accolades including a Grammy Award and the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver from President Jacob Zuma for his contribution to the South African music industry and the successful use of arts as an instrument of social transformation.

Ray has also worked on various projects to promote the development of the arts in Southern Africa through the ‘Ray Phiri Arts Institute’ and is involved in various social re-engineering projects, which have seen him volunteering his time and counseling service to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Approaching his sixty fifth year the legendary Ray Phiri stated, “I have reached that special stage in my life where I am determined to leave a lasting legacy for both my fans and younger generations to come, I hope I can do this through the Rhino Parade.”

The youth and their potential as leaders of tomorrow is something that really drives Ray to share his worldly knowledge. Making a stand against rhino poaching is part of his personal “heart song” a creative term used to describe a musician’s passions and feelings.

Just as Ray liberated oppressed South Africans through his music, he aims to use music as a means to fight the rhino poaching crisis. Ray shared the stage with his rhino sculpture on the 6th Oct at the KwaMashu Africa Festival 2012, and also spoke to the thousands of spectators set to attend about his passion for the conservation of our heritage.

Kevin McCann of Wildlands at the unveiling spoke to the fact that ambassadors like Ray help leverage their fundraising efforts. “Through the celebrity endorsed Rhino Parade we are able to increase our conservation efforts, which include 3 key projects namely, Project Rhino Tracker, Project Rhino Aerial Support and Project Rhino Investigations & Prosecution Support,” said McCann. “A lot of the public are wary of donating funds for fear of investing in an organisation that is not legitimate. Through our partnerships with 16 other organisations, all collaborating efforts under the Project Rhino KZN banner, we hope to curb this fear.” 

Ray Phiri unveils his 3-quarter life size rhino as a part of the fund raising and awareness campaign, Rhino Parade

 

Ray's rhino was displayed at the KwaMashu Africa Festival on the 6th Oct, when Ray spoke to thousands of fans regarding the plight of South Africa's rhino


Rhino Parade - a celebrity endorsed campaign to raise awareness and funding to stop rhino poaching

 photographer: Emma Gatland
From L to R: Colin Naidoo (Brand & Comms Manager ACSA), Carla Ziady (DUT Student responsible for design of the rhino), Ray Phiri, Kevin McCann (Project Manager Wildlands), Lauren Laing (Brand & Comms Manager Wildlands)

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October 8, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

           Pat Lambie signing 'his' rhino unveiled at King Shaka Airport in Durban, just prior to World Rhino Day

photographer: Emma Gatland

Last week Thursday (20 Sep '12) at King Shaka International Airport in Durban, Pat Lambie and Shaun Pollock's three-quarter life sized black rhinos were unveiled. Unfortunately car trouble kept me from attending, as I was hoping to feel the vibe around the Rhino Parade and find out the plans ahead for this fund raising initiative by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, in the war against rhino poaching.

The Rhino Parade is a great initiative for everyone to get involved, particularly kids , as the rhinos are colourful and cheerful, and of course their favourite celebs (my sons were super impressed that I just might get to meet Pat Lambie!) are also involved in the campaign, to heighten the hype and awareness surrounding the parade.

So here's the shortened press release of the unveiling & plans ahead for the Rhino Parade:
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PAT LAMBIE & SHAUN POLLOCK'S RHINOS UNVEILED!

  • Pat Lambie and Shaun Pollock are the latest Rhino Ambassadors, who have adopted the Rhino Parade fundraising campaign to raise funds to help fight the war on rhino poaching.
    Pat Lambie: "I have grown up visiting nature reserves around the country and my family and I have always been passionate about the conservation of wildlife. The butchering of rhino for their horn is something that makes me very angry and sad. It is a selfish and senseless act, especially considering that it's based on a misconception that the horn has medicinal advantages."
    Pat Lambie: International Rugby Player
    Shaun Pollock: "It is fantastic to be part of something that is trying to protect our country's heritage, and what makes us unique – our wildlife. I hope that my children's children will be able to see a real live rhino and for this reason saw the need to get involved with the Rhino Parade. I have been blessed with success in my life, but now I am focused on making my life significant."
    Shaun Pollock: Retired South African cricketer said to be one of the best bowling all-rounders in the world.
  • The 2.5m long and 1.8m high black rhino sculpture is unique to each celebrity – each rhino is based on the celebrities individual life story.
  • Durban University of Technology's third year students in Graphic Design were tasked to turn the rhino sculptures into works of art, based on the individual celebrities input.
    Pat Lambie's rhino incorporates his love for surfing, the environment and rugby.
    Shaun Pollock's rhino is a bright green and gold patriotic beauty.
     

RHINO PARADE – PLANS AHEAD 

  • Tentative date for unveiling of future KZN celebrity rhinos – Chad Le Clos, Olympic Gold Medalist & legendary musician Ray Phiri – early October.
  • Where rhinos will be unveiled – King Shaka International Airport, Durban
  • Auction of KwaZulu-Natal celebrity rhinos, 29 November 2012 (Durban City Hall).
  • Great opportunity for corporates and the private sector to support a rhino initiative.
    Example: Rand Merchant Bank purchased at Auction Freshlyground's rhino and took the initiative themselves to put together a radio campaign around 'their' rhino. Initially they displayed their rhino, with a large banner hung across their building, then the rhino disappeared as it had been poached, radio station 702 then ran a competition to 'find their rhino'. Ultimately the entire campaign raised more money via the public for rhino conservation.
  • After KwaZulu-Natal, the Rhino Parade will be travelling to Cape Town, where more celebrity rhinos will be announced, and unveiled at Cape Town International Airport.
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THE ULTIMATE AIM OF THE RHINO PARADE is to fund the below Wildlands Conservation initiatives:

  • To support the establishment of a network of NGO's working together to stop the poaching (Project Rhino KZN).
  • Project Rhino Tracker – piloting innovative GSM based tracking technology.
  • Project Rhino Aerial Support – Complimentary helicopter surveillance.
  • Project Rhino Investigation & Prosecution Support.
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A simple suggestion – if the kids are having a Carnival Day or 'other' Big Fund Raiser at school – this is a great opportunity for Rhino Army to sell their 'Rhino Badge' to raise funds for anti rhino poaching initiatives.
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Shaun Pollock alongside 'his' green & gold rhino sculpture in support of fund raising for Rhino Parade's anti poaching initiatives

 Pat Lambie supports Rhino Parade, an initiative by the Wildlands Conservation Trust in the war against rhino poaching

Group Portait: Supporters and organisers of Rhino Parade - campaign to raise funds to fight the war on rhino poaching

Photorapher: Emma Gatland
left to right: Lauren Laing (Brand & Communications Manager Wildlands Conservation), Dr Bandile Mkhize (SEO Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife), Shaun Pollock, Vahenee Heeramun (DUT Student & designer Shaun's rhino), Pat Lambie, Bradley Bhramadu (DUT student & designer of Pat's rhino), Colin Naidoo (Brand & Communicaitons Manager ACSA), Dr Andrew Venter (CEO Wildlands Conservation Trust)
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September 25, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

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Oscar Pistorius, Olympic Gold medalist, signs his three quarter life size rhino replica - part of the fund raising Rhino Parade initiated by the Wildlands Conservation Trust

Oscar Pistorius signs 'his Rhino' – a fund raising initiative by Wildlands Conservation Trust – Rhino Parade

I have that nasty 'niggle' of guilt worrying my conscience - what have I done lately to try in some small way to keep the momentum alive and turn everyone I meet into a Rhino Ambassador? Not much in honesty, what with the whine of the domestic grind, still ringing loudly in my ears. But I suspect this is much the same for many people… so to pick up from where I left off…
(see previous articles 'Become a Rhino Ambassador').

With World Rhino Day fast approaching this Saturday – thank God for those dedicated souls who are at the coal face of rhino poaching, who have to stomach the horrors daily, without capitulating. A simple thank you seems hardly enough.

So as a knee-jerk reaction, and I hate to admit it, but there you go I've said it, for any future bookings of our Rhino Ambassador Trail, a minimum of R200 per guest  on trail will be fed back to aid the fight against rhino poaching, to Project Rhino KZN, in honour of all the efforts of the collective many for World Rhino Day on the 22nd Sep 2012. 

The rhino wilderness trail is specifically intended for the rhino to take centre stage, but the entire wilderness trail experience is what one could term 'bucket-list' stuff, its that awesome.
(read our article 'Exquisite Vulnerability – Adventure on Foot')

In  order that you feel confident that your trail donation is handed over to Project Rhino, we will request a notification of receipt from the organisation to forward to you.

I have been reading so much lately with regards to 'experiential tourism' – travellers are looking not only to have a marvelous time (because of course holidays are the culmination of dreams), but also to have their holiday be enriched by knowing that their experiences are authentic, do not hurt, but actually boost local communities and or conservation. This is a welcome trend and the Rhino Ambassador Wilderness Trail, not only provides adventure, and a unique experience of wilderness but is also run by an organisation that supports local communities (particularly children) to realise the benefits of wildlife and wilderness areas for future generations.

KwaZulu-Natal as a province, has a consolidated bunch of dedicated individuals/organisations, under the banner of Project Rhino KZN, to fight the rhino poaching epidemic as a unified front for maximum impact, sharing of knowledge, skills and resources… and this is why we have chosen Project Rhino specifically.

Have you heard of the Wildlands Conservation Trust's national campaign? Rhino Parade

The Rhino Parade is an initiative to raise awareness of Rhino poaching along with much needed funding. 

I'll be heading to Durban's King Shaka International Airport tomorrow (20 Sep) for the unveiling of two three-quarter life size rhino sculptures by South African celebrities. The Rhino Parade has been based on the internationally renowned and successful Cow Parade. Tomorrow morning, Pat Lambie and Shaun Pollock's Rhino will be unveiled.

Wildlands Conservation Trust is actively working to find a long term solution to the ongoing rhino poaching onslaught. Follow the Rhino Parade as it tours South Africa and get the kids and the schools involved too – schools can make their own rhino sculptures to display and raise funds at an auction evening.

In Johannesburg on the 16th March, R610 000 was raised at auction – four South African celebrities/artists – Oscar Pistorius, Freshlyground Lee Swan and Nthathi Mshesh, painted life sized rhino under the direction of well-known South African artist Lauren Schlacter.  These celebrities and artists are in effect Rhino Ambassadors and their involvement will certainly spur others to 'listen-up' to what they have to say and follow their lead.

Nthathi Moshesh passionately spoke about the pride she feels about being a Rhino Ambassador "I'm doing this for my 10 year old son because I want him to know that I did not just stand by and watch our precious rhino disappear – I became part of the cause."
This simple statement speaks volumes about why every individual must play their part however small. 

Terrifying Statistics (Wildlands Conservation Trust)

  • The world rhino population has fallen by more than 90% in the past 30 years. Thirty species of rhino once roamed the earth, now only 5 species remain, and all are under threat of extinction.
  • Wildlands Conservation Trust along with 16 other conservation organisations launched Project Rhino KZN, aimed at supporting the development and co-ordination of rhino conservation interventions.
  • Wildlands are focusing their efforts on the development of effective surveillance systems – Project Rhino Tracker and Project Rhino Aerial Support.
  • To fund this surveillance project, Wildlands launched Rhino Parade, a fund raising campaign aimed at profiling the plight of South Africa's rhino, through the use of celebrities and three-quarter life size rhino sculptures.
  • How to help Wildlands Conservation Trust - make a donation (no matter how big or small), Adopt-A-Rhino (speak to kevinm@wildlands.co.za), Join the Rhino Army.

The Rhino Parade is a tangible initiative that can capture the imagination of young and old alike – become a Rhino Ambassador in your own way.

We'd love to hear what you are doing, particularly if you are just  like us, 'average Joe's' reading the news, weeping over lost rhino, disheartened and distressed, and then on the flip side energized by the efforts of others.

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September 19, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

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Collecting fire wood (Tambooti Tree) late afternoon in preparation for the evening around our camp fire

Having recently returned from our adventure trail in one of my most favourite places in South Africa, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, it has been a challenge to return to my usual 'work rhythm'. I have also been 'putting off' writing about my personal experience of the trail, merely because I feel that nothing I write will convey sufficiently how awesome the entire experience was on so many levels, spiritually, intellectually and physically.
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The trail was unlike any wilderness or wildlife experience, that I have ever done before, and I have been lucky enough to have had many opportunities to enjoy Africa's wild places. The trail is the most personal experience of nature that I have ever had. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.
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The title of this article, 'Exquisite Vulnerability' perhaps doesn't straight off the bat gel with the idea of a wilderness walking trail, and it seems crazy to explain vulnerability as 'exquisite'… let me attempt to explain.
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A part of the trail is keeping night watch over the group, something I didn't think too much about prior to trail because I was just too consumed with getting work to a point that I could leave it all behind me for a few days. But on the drive up our group began to chat about night watch, and by the time we actually reached the eve of our first night watch, we had worked ourselves up into a bit of a froth about it all. The tension mounted when just prior to hitting the sack (or in our case sleeping bag) we had two hyenas chase a male impala literally over the edge of a cliff into the shallow river bed below, a mere two to three metes up from our camp.
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A sudden explosion of noise found us clambering for our torches and dashing in the direction of the commotion (making quite a commotion ourselves), along a narrow rock ledge to discover the impala, now paralyzed beneath us, still alive, with a large chunk missing from his rump and yellow eyes glowing on the path just ahead – the hyenas now perplexed to see a bunch of bug-eyed humans in their way disappeared back into the shadows. Death came swiftly to the impala, although the hyena did enter the water cautiously, nervous of the crocodiles in the deeper waters. I lay in my sleeping bag thinking I'll never fall asleep now - and that's ok because the night sky was ablaze with star light - only to find myself being gently prodded awake for my turn to patrol camp perimeter.
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Little did I realize at that point that I would look forward to this night time vigil with anticipation each evening. With heightened senses, you find your thoughts turn inwards and a feeling of peace and awe (humbled by nature) as you wonder to and fro from the camp fire, stoking the flames to light, and alternatively standing at the opposite end of camp, enveloped in the velvet black of night, the kiss of wind chill on your face, and the anticipation of the sounds and activity of the African bush, with a rash of stars literally touching the curvature of the hillside on which our camp lay sleeping.
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I found myself wondering, what manner of creature will show itself tonight… what night time wanderings are we to witness? As luck would have it, we listened in hushed excitement to a lion kill in the valley beneath us, and when the hyenas joined the fray, the ruckus was immense – all the more incredible as a story of wilderness played out countless times each evening was all the more vivid as we could not see the action. The following evening we chased a buffalo from wandering through camp, with a few 'hamba's' and clapping of hands (hamba meaning 'go away' or 'get lost' in Zulu) by our fearless guide. Our final night was filled with the roar of lion and the glint of crocodile eyes in the river alongside which we slept.
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EXQUISITE VULNERABILITY…
Not only from the physical elements of being in the wilderness, but also as we needed to rely solely on the bare necessities to sustain us. A simple wash in the shallow river each evening, dinners cooked over an open fire (fire wood collected en route), a spade for toilet routine - stripped of all the luxuries of modern living, we realize how dependent and soft we have become, so that we feel separate from nature and not a part of our natural environment. We learnt coping strategies (perhaps I could be so bold as to call them survival skills) to live in the bush and we felt a real sense of achievement being able to survive off of our own energy, carrying everything that we needed to survive each day in the bush, and leaving no trace of our wanderings.
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EXQUISITE VULNERABILITY…
As we seldom stop these days to analyze our lives, our fears, our dreams, our emotions… and on trail, out in the bush each day, we were given time to sit quietly apart from one another, merely to meditate and evaluate our lives. Out in the wilderness it felt, well natural, and unrushed, and an opportunity for inward reflection can bring about realizations that perhaps one was avoiding, an epiphany – life changing stuff!
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So we all returned to our normal frenetic routines, but I feel lighter somehow, buoyed by this unique experience of wilderness, and I want everyone to enjoy this same opportunity and to be humbled by the beauty of Africa's few remaining wild places and one of her most incredible species, the rhino.
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Becoming a rhino ambassador is a natural extension of this intimate wilderness experience.
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Please feel free to chat to me personally if you have any questions pertaining to the concept of becoming a rhino ambassador, or if you are interested in the wilderness trail – fiona@intriguingafrica.co.za - I would love to have the opportunity to convince you that this trail will be life changing for you.
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THE TRAIL ITINERARY AND PRICE

A PICTURE STORY OF TRAIL

READ PREVIOUS ARTICLES

As so many coffee-table books showcase, sunrise (or sunset) in Africa is beautiful

July 16, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

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The First National Rhino Conservation Dialogue Workshop was held in Midrand in May, with the announcement of a further summit in September. In the interim, roundtable discussions will commence with rhino owners for possible solutions to prevent poaching.

  • Environmental Affairs Deputy Director-General, Fundisile Mketeni stated "We are now at war".
  • Filming is now forbidden within the Kruger National Park, as the reserve has been worst hit as far as poaching numbers are concerned, due to its extensive eastern border with Mozambique. The South African National Defence Force has been deployed into the reserve to help protect our rhino.
  • Areas of discussion at the summit in September will be: trade, rhino horn stock pile management, awareness campaigns, international engagements, protection processes, and sustainable rhino conservation.
  • Mavuso Msimang has been appointed as the Rhino Conservation Issue Manager and is tasked with bringing together a broad spectrum of organisations and experts with vested interests in rhino conservation.
  • The department will be engaging with countries such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam where the demand for rhino horn is highest.
  • The workshop was also attended by Colonel Johann Jooste of the Hawks.
  • It is estimated that 556 rhino will be poached by the end of 2012 if a breakthrough solution is not put in place.
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The public can report incidents of rhino poaching, tip offs or suspicious behaviour to:
+27 (0)800 205 005

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June 6, 2012 - Posted by africa holidays and safaris

SAFARI DESTINATIONS OF MERIT

South Africa: Madikwe / Addo Elephant / Kalahari Gemsbok / Timbavati / Sabi Sands / Hluhluwe

Botswana: Okavango Delta / Chobe

Zambia: South Luangwa

Namibia: Etosha / Sossusvlei

Tanzania: Serengeti / Ngorongoro Crater

Kenya: Masai Mara