Madikwe Game Reserve is committed to wildlife conservation, including of the critically endangered rhino species. To this end, The Honorary Officers Counter Poaching Unit (HOCPU), headed up by Phillip Hattingh, has been established. As a guest of Madikwe Safari Lodge, you have the unique opportunity to join Phillip and experience rhino conservation in action.
Following an early-morning wake-up call, you will be transferred by safari vehicle to Madikwe Eastern Airstrip, where you will meet up with Phillip, park representatives, and a veterinary specialist. Following a conservation orientation and overview of the morning’s plan of action, the vet will depart by helicopter to track and sedate an as-yet-unrecorded rhino on the reserve.
Once the rhino’s location is called in, you will be taken to the scene where you can participate in the process of gathering DNA samples from the rhino and ‘notching’ (attaching an identifying ear tag). The rhino is soon back on its feet (sedated for no longer than 10 to 15 minutes) and now recorded in the reference book of identifiable individuals within the Madikwe rhino population.
Through this process, field guides are able to identify rhinos and record their sightings for the purpose of monitoring the health of their population. In addition, the DNA samples are sent to Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute for each animal’s unique ID to be added to a national database. Thorough records of rhino DNA are vital also to ensure convictions against poachers.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours, depending on the time it takes to find an un-notched rhino
Cost: R46 000
Includes: Refreshments; helicopter use; veterinary specialist services; access to dedicated park officials; an exclusive encounter with a rhino
Maximum number of guests: 16
Minimum guest age: 18 years