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Tanzania’s Mkomazi Park is now a rhino sanctuary

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Apolinari Tairo, The East African | April 3, 2020

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When planning a safari, tourists rarely book a visit to Mkomazi National Park to see the rare African black rhino, currently classified as critically endangered. The park will introduce rhino tourism in July as an attraction for tourists.

Mkomazi is under the management of Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa). It is located some 112 km east of Moshi town in Kilimanjaro region, between the northern and southern safari circuits.

Tanapa conservation commissioner Allan Kijazi said last week that a special programme has been launched to protect the breeding rhinos in Mkomazi.

Original photo as published by The East African: Elephants in the Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystem. FILE PHOTO | NMG

“Mkomazi has been running the rhino conservation project for the past 20 years,” he said.

Tanapa expects to earn Tsh423 million ($200,000) from 7,680 visitors per year.

About Tsh3.5 billion ($1.6 million) will be spent on the conservation project. Rhinos are protected within the fenced 55-square kilometre sanctuary, inside the 3,245-sqaure kilometre park. Tourists can see them more easily than in the wild plains, Mkomazi park warden Abel Mtui said.

Black rhinos used to roam freely between Mkomazi and the Tsavo ecosystem, covering Tsavo West National Park in Kenya.

Together with Tsavo, Mkomazi forms one of the largest protected ecosystems in the world.


By Conservation No Comments


“The more I work in conservation, the more I realize the strength and kindness of women and the enormous part they play in conserving mother earth,” Petronel Nieuwoudt states with confidence and conviction.

Passion, determination, caring, and conviction are qualities ingrained in this energetic conservationist, the founder and driving force behind Care for The Wild—Rhino Sanctuary (CFWRS). The sanctuary, near Barberton in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Lowveld, is totally devoted to the care and rehabilitation of African wild animals—and is also only one of a few specializing in the hand-rearing and care of orphaned and injured baby rhinos.

Aside from her immediate challenge of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned rhinos, her vision is to secure a viable free-ranging African White and Black Rhinoceros population at the sanctuary as the nucleus population for future generations of rhino.

“I am often asked how I became involved in this work,” she says, “but you don’t get involved, you’re born with it. I reckon God appointed me to look after the animals, so you had better not get in my way.” There is a steely edge behind her ready smile.

Petronel started her career in the Endangered Species Protection Unit (a specialized unit of the Police), where she held the rank of captain. In 1999 she left the police service and started The Game Capture School. With more than 20 years of experience in the care and conservation of wild animals, she more recently consolidated her efforts in developing the sanctuary of today.

Time is of the essence to save orphaned rhinos. A dedicated helicopter is available to track, find, and secure injured and/or orphaned rhinos. The air rescue team is supported by a highly qualified veterinary team and ground support vehicles that transport the rhino to the CFWRS holding facilities. Most of the orphaned rhinos come from the Kruger National Park, where their mothers were poached.

The early and fragile stages of their rehabilitation and care are hugely important. “When a baby rhino comes in, it has been badly traumatized,” Petronel explains. “You must remember that it has just seen its mom being killed. There’ve been guns, noise, people, blood … .” So, there is an understandable fear of humans, and this has to be overcome. Trust has to be built before any orphan can be reintegrated with other rhinos.

Working with baby rhinos has its challenges, but so does the care and handling of fully-grown rhinos. And to this end, Care for Wild Rhino has developed a state-of-the-art rehab facility that gives injured and sick adult rhinos the best chance at survival and recovery.

Petronel also has a passion for helping and uplifting the surrounding communities in the area. Her heart is not only with animals but the people of Africa as well. Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary has created more than 300 jobs for previously disadvantaged people.

“Our work has to be inclusive of the surrounding communities; otherwise we will not be able to save the rhino from extinction,” Petronel remarks while walking through the newly developed vegetable gardens. She knows that if she can teach the mothers to grow veggies, she can give them hope and make sure their children will not go hungry.

Petronel also believes that the role of women in conservation is critical for future generations. “We, as women, look after and teach our children. They see the world through our eyes until they are big enough to see it through their own. Women are the hope for the future because they influence how children see their own destiny.”

Locust invasion threatens wildlife and livelihoods in Kenya

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Tim Knight, Fauna & Flora International, for Phys.Org. | February 4, 2020

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Kenya is bracing itself for a humanitarian and conservation catastrophe in the wake of a desert locust invasion on an unprecedented scale. The infestation is already affecting more than a quarter of the entire country and in danger of wreaking havoc nationwide.

While the size of these swarms has not yet swollen to apocalyptic levels, there are fears that numbers could reach plague proportions if the insects are not effectively controlled, with potentially dire consequences not only for community livelihoods but also for some of the continent’s most iconic wildlife.

The swarms now invading Kenya arrived from Somalia and Ethiopia, where they have already caused widespread devastation of crops and grazing land before moving south and then west on the prevailing winds.

Original photo as published by Phys.org. Credit: Vladimir Wrangel/AdobeStock

Sera Wildlife Conservancy, a long-standing partner of Fauna & Flora International (FFI), recently found itself directly in the path of these insatiable invertebrates.

This community-run conservancy is a key member of the wider Northern Rangelands Trust consortium that FFI helped to establish in 2004. It harbors a small but crucial population of the critically endangered eastern black rhino, happily augmented when a new calf was born there in late 2019.

The locusts descended on Sera shortly before dusk on January 22nd, and roosted overnight in the trees before flying away around noon the following day, much to the relief of conservancy staff and nearby communities. Rangers who witnessed their arrival described the flying swarms as “moving clouds” and ‘thick, white smoke.” The damage caused during their mercifully brief feeding frenzy has yet to be fully assessed, but the main concern is what might happen if they return.

“We’ve never witnessed anything like this before,” said Reuben Lendira, Sera’s Conservancy Manager. “This is the first invasion since the establishment of the conservancy. Though the locusts have only been in the conservancy for a few hours since their arrival in northern Kenya at the end of last year, we remain concerned as they are present in neighboring areas and there are chances that they will keep visiting us.”

A single desert locust consumes its own body weight in food in a day. Half a million of these insects—a tiny percentage of the average swarm—will devour as much vegetation as ten elephants in just 24 hours. It is easy to see how quickly an entire landscape could be denuded and defoliated, posing a serious threat to the survival of large herbivores throughout Kenya, included those at Sera. In addition to serving as a vital rhino sanctuary, the conservancy also provides protection for other threatened wildlife, including African elephant, lesser kudu and reticulated giraffe.

Locust outbreaks are a natural phenomenon—triggered by abundant rainfall and the plentiful vegetation that results—but there seems little doubt that a prolonged spell of extreme weather has played a role in this instance. Unseasonal torrential downpours in the Arabian Peninsula precipitated by a series of cyclones (a symptom of our changing climate) were followed by further extended bouts of heavy rain, creating ideal conditions for successive generations of locusts to breed within a very short timeframe.

The sheer scale of the infestation in Kenya is difficult to comprehend from the ground, but one swarm alone was estimated by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to cover 2,400 square kilometers—an area almost the size of Paris.

But even swarms of this size are just the tip of the antenna compared to what could be in store. It is conceivable that locust numbers, if unchecked, could increase 500-fold within six months, with cataclysmic consequences for crops, pasture, people and wildlife.

To date, localized aerial spraying—using chemicals that are purportedly safe for other wildlife and humans—has failed to contain the invasion. As a result, people on the ground are taking things into their own hands, using more harmful pesticides that could have a serious environmental impact.

Despite reassurances, concerns remain about the possible health implications for wildlife—and humans—when they feed on sprayed vegetation, or drink from water sources contaminated by pesticides. The invasion has not yet spread to Kenya’s food-producing regions, but pastoralist communities including those in and around Sera are understandably nervous about losing the grazing land on which their livestock depend.

The locust invasion poses a real threat to conservation, livelihoods and security in northern Kenya, according to FFI’s Josephine Nzilani: “Under conservancy grazing plans, pasture is divided into dry and wet season grazing areas, but the locusts could upset this regime. If wet season grazing areas are plundered, herders may be forced to resort to dry season grazing areas, meaning they won’t have areas to graze when the dry season comes. They will have to migrate to other areas, and this often leads to grazing conflicts.”

It is hoped that control measures will be escalated nationwide in the coming days and weeks, before the swarms multiply to the point where they are unmanageable. In the meantime, Sera remains on red alert.


Rhino Fund Uganda clarifies on alleged grabbing of Ziwa ranchers’ land

By Land conservation No Comments
Nixon Segawa, Soft Power News | December 17, 2019

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Rhino Fund Uganda has come out to denounce plans of forcefully take over a total of 62 square kilometers of land in Nakasongola which was leased to the organization in 2002.

There have been several media reports that Rhino Fund Uganda and D & D International Ltd (Amuka Lodge) have attempted to “steal” any Leasehold or Mailo land from M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd owned by Captain Joe Roy. On August 20, 2002, Rhino Fund Uganda signed a license agreement with M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd, on 62 square Kilometers of land comprised in Leasehold and Mailo titles.

Under the said License agreement, Rhino Fund was to establish and manage a Rhino sanctuary on the said land for a period of thirty (30) years. In a document authored by Rhino Fund Uganda Board Chairman, Daudi Makobore, Ziwa Ranchers had the right to continue with its cattle farming on the said land however, Joe Roy moved his cattle to his other ranch (Kiryana) where he had a cattle farming business by choice.

Original photo as published by Soft Power News: Rhino Fund’s Daudi Makobore with President Museveni during a recent meeting on the matter.

“No license fee or payment to Ziwa Ranchers or Joe Roy is recorded in this license agreement. Joe Roy is to date running his business (Ziwa Rhino Lodge) which comprises of guest houses, backpackers, camping and a restaurant on the sanctuary,” Makobore explained.

Makobore said that at the time of execution of the License agreement, Joe Roy and his wife, a one Daisy Roy were the only shareholders/Directors in Ziwa Ranchers Ltd with 50% shareholding each. “On the basis of the License agreement, Rhino Fund Uganda invested heavily with donor funding in terms of infrastructure development including but not limited to purchasing and transporting of rhinos, electric fencing the entire land, dams, fences and outposts, setting up sanctuary buildings, maintenance of Roads and establishing a school within the sanctuary and serving the community and district with various social corporate responsibility projects,” Makobore said.

Makobore said that sometime in 2009, the shareholders of Ziwa Ranchers Ltd (Capt. Joseph Charles Roy and Mrs. Daisy Roy) transferred all their stakes in Ziwa Ranchers Ltd (the company) to Amiral Karmali and Rukhsana Karmali who later became shareholders and directors of the company. “On or about the 16th October, 2017 and with no basis at all, Rhino Fund Uganda was stunned to be served with what purported to be a termination notice from M/s Omongole & Co. Advocates, Counsel for Joe Roy allegedly terminating the 30 years License agreement between Rhino Fund and M/s Ziwa Ranchers Ltd,” Makobore said.

He says that on the basis of the purported termination notice, Joe Roy has continuously issued eviction threats to Rhino Fund Uganda and on 28th January, 2019, Joe Roy through his lawyers issued a notice to Rhino Fund to vacate certain facilities within the sanctuary. “The “Land Wrangle” being referred to in the media is twisted and misinterpreted. Rhino Fund Uganda, its Executive Director and D & D International Ltd (Amuka Lodge) have no desire or have never attempted to “steal” any Leasehold or Mailo land from Joe Roy”.

What is referred to as a “Land Wrangle” is merely the above contesting the early termination notices and protecting their interests and investments on the said land, Makobore clarified.

Makobore noted that on the other hand, by letter dated May 27, 2019, Joe Roy through his lawyers wrote to the Ambassador of the European Union (EU), World Bank and UNDP urging them to desist from further funding Rhino Fund Uganda, claiming in this letter that Rhino Fund Uganda and its Executive Director are busy with illegal activities and conflicted.

“On the basis of these facts Rhino Fund Uganda instructed its Lawyers Ms. Opyene & Co. Advocates and Ms. Sekabanja & Co. Advocates to seek necessary redress from the courts to protect among others its interests on this land,” Makobore noted.

The lawyers thus secured a court injunction to foster the security and safety of the Rhinos, an extremely vulnerable and endangered species. “This order aforementioned does not and did not by any glimpse of error or wildest interpretation bar Joe Roy from accessing his land, business or client guest house which he refers to as his home. Joe Roy, his colleagues and family have been and still have access to the sanctuary whenever and wherever he wishes,” Makobore noted. He added that, “The ‘war’ which is played to the gallery is to distort the clear facts of the sequence of events.”


Fresh twist in rhino wrangle (Uganda)

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Charles Etukuri, New Vision | December 3, 2019

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The High Court Registrar Flavia Nabakooza has issued an injunction barring Captain Joy Roy the owner of Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary from accessing his farm and carrying out any additional development on it.

The injunction dated November 21, 2019, also barred Capt. Roy from accessing his home, the hotel that he set up on the ranch in Nakasongola district.

The decision by the court to issue an injunction comes hardly a month after President Yoweri Museveni met the warring parties who included Capt Roy, his family and Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) led by its Executive Director Angie Renade. The President directed the disbandment of the current board of the Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) and the constitution of a new team of directors aimed at ending the impasse over the ownership of land and management of Rhinos at the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola.

The board was expanded from the initial seven to nine members with and RFU having four representatives, Capt. Roy would have 3 representatives while the Government would be represented by two members. The President directed his legal team at State House to draft a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by the two parties to guide their future working relationship. Under the MOU, Capt. Roy was supposed to have entered into joint management with RFU and equally share all revenues generated from the project.

Original photo as published by New Vision: President Yoweri Museveni poses for a group photograph after meeting the warring parties. (PPU PHOTO)

The President’s final intervention was meant to put to an end an acrimonious fall out between RFU and Capt. Roy who was embroiled in a litany of court cases over the management of the Rhino sanctuary. Capt. Roy accused Genade of attempting to grab his 16,000 acres of land he had leased to RFU while Genade accused Capt. Roy of wanting to evict her from the ranch.

However, the new injunction now means that the fight over the Rhino Sanctuary is still on. Joy Adoko, the lawyer representing RFU confirmed they had secured an injunction restraining Capt. Roy from accessing his ranch and interfering with the management of the ranch.

“Yes it’s true we went to court and secured an injunction against Capt. Roy,” she said.

Asked why they had insisted and went to court after Museveni met the warring faction, Adoko noted that the meeting with President Museveni did not talk about withdrawing the court cases that had been filed against Roy.

Shortly after Museveni met the warring factions, he wrote to the head of the European Union Attilio Pacific indicating that they had resolved to settle the matter amicably.

“As you may be aware, Rhino Fund Uganda has been involved in a dispute over land where the Rhino Sanctuary sits. Following my intervention, Capt. Roy representing Zziwa Ranchers together with the Rhino Fund Chairman and other representatives agreed to resolve all the disputes and maintain a Rhino Sanctuary on the land with the support of the Government,” the President noted.

He noted that the parties “agreed to execute a memorandum of understanding that will further govern their relations,” the President stated.

However, Capt. Roy’s lawyer, Richard Omongole noted that as they were waiting for the MOU to be signed they were shocked with an injunction issued against their client.

“It is clear that they wanted to engage us into a meeting to buy time as they tried to seek out funds from donors under the pretext that the case had been resolved. This is unfair to our client who not only invested in purchasing the land using his own resources, set up the entire infrastructure in the sanctuary and now he has been chased away by the same people he leased to,” Omongole stated.

Omongole noted that his client was in advanced plans to set up an airstrip at the ranch and also set up a five-star hotel at the same facility. He also noted that the permit the Roy had given RFU for the use of the land had since expired.


Sumatran rhino sanctuary in East Aceh to protect endangered species (Indonesia)

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Antara News | November 29, 2019

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EAST LAMPUNG, LAMPUNG: The Aceh provincial administration intends to build a Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in East Aceh District in a bid to prevent the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros from becoming extinct.

“A rhino conservation site will be built in Aceh,” Head of Aceh Province’s Institution of Wali Nanggroe Malik Mahmud informed newsmen on the sidelines of his visit to the conservation site of Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in East Lampung on Friday.

To this end, several representatives of the Aceh provincial and East Aceh district administrations conducted a comparative study on Sumatran rhino conservation from the TNWK’s and Indonesian Rhino Foundation’s (YABI’s) conservationists, he revealed.

Original photo as published by Antara News: A Sumatran rhino. (Special/ RN)

Led by Mahmud, representatives of the Aceh provincial and East Aceh district governments were able to gain comprehensive information from the experienced conservationists for two days since Thursday.

The TNWK and YABI’s conservationists were also willing to assist them in the development of the East Aceh-based Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, he stated.

During the visit, these guests from Aceh Province had observed the Lampung-based SRS that currently tends to seven Sumatran rhinos. On Friday, they continued their visit to the national park’s tamed elephant training center.

In response to the Aceh provincial government’s plan to build a SRS, Head of the Way Kambas National Park Subakir welcomed and supported the good will since it would assist in the rhino conservation efforts.

The TNWK in Lampung Province is the gatekeeper of rhino conservation in the eastern part of Sumatra Island, while Aceh Province can function as the caretaker of these endangered species in the western part of Sumatra, he pointed out.

“If rhino conservation sites are available in these two gates, the Sumatran rhinoceros can be saved,” he stated, adding that he was willing to deploy his people to the East Aceh-based rhino conservation site if the related authorities had issued a permit for it.

Subakir expressed optimism that Aceh will be successful in running its SRS owing to the province’s available thick forests and abundant food sources for rhinos.

He forecast that the total Sumatran rhino population just reaches 80. Based on this factual reality, he highlighted the need to step up rhino conservation efforts to prevent them from going extinct.

Currently, no Sumatran rhinos are left in Malaysia. The Javanese tigers had also been declared “extinct”. Such condition must be avoided by undertaking best-possible efforts to save the Sumatran rhino, he emphasized.


New rhino sanctuary opened in Way Kambas National Park (Indonesia)

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Ludhy Cahyana, Tempo.Co | October 31, 2019

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JAKARTA: Directorate General of Natural Resource and Ecosystem Conservation (KSDAE) of Environment and Forestry Ministry was set to open the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary II at Way Kambas National Park, East Lampung, in commemoration of World’s Rhino Day.

The KSDAE Director-General Wiratno said the new sanctuary was the expansion of the first one, which was built in 1996. For the inauguration, his side invited Lampung Governor Arinal Djunaidi.

Original photo as published by Tempo.

“Lampung Governor appreciates and supports this program. He also supports programs of KSDAE on efforts to integrate forestry conservation programs, develop tourism and region,” said Wiratno.

He further explained that the sanctuary was aimed at enhancing the population of Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), which considered an endangered animal.

The existence of Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary II, Wiratno added, would add to the list of natural tourist attractions and conservations in Lampung among Bukit Barisan National Park, Way Kambas National Park, Mount Anak Krakatau, and Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary I.

L. Nakuru National Park offers a continuum of splendid sites (Kenya)

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Magdalene Wanja, The Daily Nation | October 14, 2019

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The mention of Lake Nakuru National Park sparks memories of the famous flamingo carpet on the lake’s shores that has provided a phenomenal aerial view for decades.

Although things are different due to the reduced number of the birds owing to migration, the park still has a thousand reasons to be rated as one of Kenya’s major tourist attractions.

As you enter the park, the view of the expansive lake surrounded by tall acacia trees tells a story of how much the lake has expanded over the years.

Along the corridors, you experience the first view of wildlife, the baboons, freely interacting with visitors. As you go round the lake from the right, your first stop is the baboon cliff.

This is where you find baboons and monkeys with their young ones moving around in dozens.

Original photo as published by Daily Nation: White rhinos graze at Lake Nakuru National Park on August 20, 2019. The park was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1961. (PHOTO | SAMUEL BAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP)

This is the baboon’s main territory because of the elevated nature, and they like it because it offers security from predators as they can see them approaching from a distance.

Here, tourists stop to take pictures with the background of the lake for memories sake.

As you drive further, you approach the rocky ‘Out of Africa’ site. “Before the lake expanded, the shape of the lake used to resemble the map of Africa and thus the name… out of Africa viewing Africa,” says our tour guide.

Driving downhill towards the southern part of the park, you come across Enasoit hill, also nicknamed Migingo, a place you are likely to spot lions.

This is a secluded hilly place in an open plain where lions like to hang out and spot for prey.


As you continue driving round the lake, you come across the airstrip mainly used by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials for their activities. This is near the camp-site as you approach Makalia water falls.

The water falls are named after Makalia River which originates from Mau Forest.

The serene lake shore is painted with the vast bird species feeding from a variety of vegetation.

The premium park is home to 50 mammal species and more than 450 bird species both in the marine and dry land.

The park is also home to lodges where visitors can reside during their trip. They include Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, Lake Nakuru Lodge, Sopa lodge, The Cliff and Flamingo Hill Camp tented camp.

The park is also famous for its rhino sanctuary and a critical breeding ground.


Lake Nakuru National Park was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1961, extended to 6,000 hectares in 1964 and then 63km² gazetted in 1968.

It was extended to its current size of 188km² in 1984; it was established as the first government-managed rhino sanctuary.

In 1987, it was declared a Ramsar site because of its importance as a wetland, and recently, as a World Heritage Site alongside lakes Bogoria and Elementaita under the Rift Valley system.

In August 2005, the park was branded as a ‘Bird Watchers Paradise’ famous for its display of flamingos under the KWS-driven park branding programme.

Prince Harry and Meghan to visit world’s largest rhino sanctuary in SA

By Conservation, Rescue and rehab No Comments
Clinton Moodley, MSN Entertainment | September 21, 2019

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The royals will travel to South Africa next week, and if their schedule permits, they will visit Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.

Prince Harry, who is an ambassador for the organisation, is passionate about saving the rhino.

Known as the largest rhino orphanage and sanctuary in the world, Care for Wild forms part of the 28,000 hectare Barberton Nature Reserve, the newest Unesco World Heritage Site in South Africa.

The organisation, founded by Petronel Nieuwoudt in 2001 in the Limpopo province, aims to provide care and rehabilitation to white and black rhinos. The centre was moved to Barberton in Mpumalanga in 2011 where she and Mark Cherry established the Care For Wild programme.

Dean Cherry of Nhongo Safaris, a company that hosts rhino experiences at the sanctuary, said Harry is set to visit the sanctuary with Meghan and their baby Archie during their visit.

“Prince Harry and his family will be visiting the sanctuary. He is very passionate about the cause, and we cannot wait to share the gripping rhino stories with the royal family,” he said.

Cherry did not reveal the exact date the royal family will visit and there was no mention of the visit on their official schedule released earlier this month.

Harry last visit to the sanctuary was in 2017.

Travellers have the opportunity to learn more about the sanctuary through a day experience hosted by Nhongo Safaris.

But, do not expect to touch these rhinos. Cherry said that there is no petting or physical interaction with the animal.

“The organisation believes in the rescue, rehabilitate and release premise. Many of these rhinos have been through significant trauma. Some youngsters, seen as threats by poachers, are beaten by pangas and other harmful objects that leave them injured.

“Due to the trauma, we try to ensure little human interaction. We feed them through the boma wall. We want these rhinos to heal from their trauma and to start a new life after their release without any fear.

“The rhinos are monitored, and the anti-poaching unit does regular patrols on horseback and specialised vehicles. Some rhinos decide to stay together in small groups while others form a herd,” he said.

Cherry said the experience was purely educational. Nhongo Safaris has built an 8 sleeper lodge where guests spend the night. Included in the itinerary is rhino safaris, where a guide will explain the different types of rhino and their current plight, and an early morning patrol with the anti-poaching unit.