I expected to see wild animals on a South African safari but I did not let my hopes rise beyond a point. After all my tiger sighting count in India is still stuck at zero after 4 different national parks! But the safari at the Manyeleti Game Reserve exceeded all expectations.
Too Close for Comfort- A Rhino Sighting at a Close Range, Manyeleti Game Reserve, South Africa
When I first saw Rhinos at such a close range my mind went blank. I thought they would go away but they kept circling around our jeep for a long time. At one point they made strange noises and I was assured by Patrick that they were just showing off! I was so glad that they were just showing off and Patrick knew what he was doing, cause I didn’t!
I got to hear about rhino poaching at INDABA 2013, much before we reached the bushes. While walking around the INDABA 2013 stalls I spotted Tintswalo Lodges and I dropped in to say hello as I knew we were doing safaris with them later.
Later that day two of our group members told me that there were people from Tintswalo who were attempting to walk 1000 kms to raise awareness and funding for Rhino conservation. They call the initiative TREC 1000.
Single Horned White Rhino, South Africa
We heard the voices of concern all around INDABA 2013 with various game reserves pitching in their efforts and concerns. You can follow the progress of the walk from their TREC1000 Facebook page as well. Lately all doesn’t seem to be going according to the plan out there, I hope the luck changes for the group soon.
Fritz Breytenbach of TREC1000
We met Fritz Breytenbach at INDABA 2013 and he talked passionately about his walk. His camera had already been knocked out by an elephant once. We also talked to people from South African National Parks and one of the officials said about the situation, “We are bleeding … it is a war we cannot afford to lose.” Apparently 2 rhinos (all spices) are poached daily in South Africa alone, a majority from Kruger National Park.
A rumor that powered rhino horn can cure cancer has wrecked havoc on the rhinos in the recent time in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. The park rangers also felt that they were trained in maintaining the park and not fighting an armed war with the poachers. So South Africa has enlisted the services of retired military officer Johan Jooste to coordinate the anti poaching efforts.
White Rhinos, Manayeleti Game Reserve, South Africa
We had this really close encounter with white rhinos on our first ride with the Tintswalo Lodges and it was such a fascinating experience. To think that these animals are indiscriminately killed is a huge reflection on the human nature. I was told that the commercial angle was just too much to resist. Apparently one rhino itself is worth a few million South African Rand. Having a long border with Mozambique without a fence is also considered to be part of the problem as poachers get away to that part after poaching.
The issue of protecting rhinos in South Africa is a complicated one with no easy solutions in sight, however it was heartening to see so many people acknowledge it, talking about it and doing their bit.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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