Madikwe Game Reserve is committed to wildlife conservation, particularly when it comes to its critically endangered rhino species. To this end, the reserve has established The Honorary Officers Counter Poaching Unit (HOCPU), headed up by Phillip Hattingh. Madikwe Safari Lodge’s guests have the unique opportunity to contribute to, and experience, critical conservation in action through The Rhino Conservation Experience.
After an early morning wakeup call, followed by coffee/ tea and a light refreshment, guests are transferred to Madikwe’s Airstrip to meet up with Phillip, park representatives and a veterinary specialist. Following a brief introduction on rhino conservation and an overview of the plan of action, the vet will depart in a helicopter to find and dart a rhino in the vicinity. Safari vehicles are in continuous radio contact, and remain on standby until the location of the rhino is called in. Guests are then transferred to the scene where the rhino is sedated, to participate in the process of gathering DNA samples and notching. The rhino is soon on its feet (sedated for no more than 10-15 minutes to minimise stress), now part of the reference book of identifiable rhinos within Madikwe’s population.
It is through this process that Field Guides are able to identify and record rhino sightings for the purpose of monitoring the health of the population. In addition, the DNA samples are sent to Onderstepoort so that each animal’s unique ID can be added to the national database. The recording of DNA is vital in order to gain convictions against poachers.
Cost per Rhino Conservation Experience: ZAR 46 000 (for a maximum of 16 participants in 2 safari vehicles)
Includes: Cost of helicopter, veterinary specialist and access to dedicated park officials; the exclusive encounter with a sedated rhino; tea/ coffee and refreshments during orientation