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White Rhino Tracking Ongava DA

Black & White Rhino Expedition

Kunene Region/ Etosha area • Namibia

Join the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and Ongava Research Centre (ORC), two pioneering wildlife conservation organizations, in their efforts to conserve the desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) and Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum). This unique expedition in northern Namibia leads from the Kunene Region to the Ongava Game Reserve bordering the renowned Etosha National Park, and focuses on two magnificent but highly threatened relatives in the Rhinoceros-family.

Both species were poached to near extinction in the last century, with as few as twenty Southern white rhino, and only a few hundred desert adapted black rhino remaining. Today, thanks to the efforts of conservationists like those at SRT and ORC, both species have grown in numbers considerably. Populations are still incredibly fragile however, and positive growth can only be assured while the current vigilant monitoring and anti-poaching effort is maintained. This is sadly demonstrated by current developments in South Africa, where rhinos are lost to poaching at a rate of over one animal a day - slaughtered for its horn...

Participants of this expedition will gain privileged insight in the critical conservation efforts of both conservation projects, and will get to know the habitats in which they live from a unique perspective. Activities include amongst others:

  • the unique and exciting opportunity to join the dedicated game wardens to track and observe both species of rhino on foot
  • assistance in DNA research, by collecting dung samples, used to assess the genetic fitness of the population
  • a nocturnal stakeout of a waterhole from a hide, to count and observe the visiting animals
  • bush-walks, focussing on spor-tracking, browsing and grazing behaviour, territory markings etc

Conservation Safaris, in cooperation with Wilderness Safaris, the Wilderness Trust, Ongava Research Centre and the Save The Rhino Trust, have put together a unique adventure expedition in which guests can support both SRT and ORC, and take part in the groundbreaking and spectacular conservation efforts. In addition to a once-in-a -lifetime experience, the funds generated will help pay for monitoring and studying the black and white rhino population in Namibia, and will be a crucial step towards their long-term survival.

  • Desert Adapted Rhino ©Martin Benadie
  • SRT Trackers ©Dana Allen

SRT and ORC

Desert-adapted Black Rhino were poached to near extinction in the last century, with only a few hundred remaining. Since its formation in 1982, Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) has been instrumental in addressing the decline of desert-adapted Black Rhino in the Kunene Region, and currently operates under an exclusive mandate granted by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to monitor and research the black rhino population in the Kunene Region. Today, thanks to the efforts of conservationists like those at SRT, the species has grown in numbers considerably. Populations are still incredibly fragile however, and positive growth can only be assured while the current vigilant monitoring and anti-poaching effort is maintained.

Ongava Research Centre (ORC) is a privately funded facility devoted to the scientific study of all parts of the ecosystem at Ongava. ORC is dedicated to increasing the knowledge and understanding of Ongava's threatened species and habitats; to optimize management of the eco system that make up the reserve, and promote best practice in wildlife conservation. Renowned for its biodiversity, Ongava Game Reserve boasts an incredible variety of fauna and flora, including successful breeding populations of both black and white rhinoceros.

Being one of the core scientific projects, ORC has been investigating the genetic relationships between individuals in these resident populations in order to determine their lineage. Through extracting DNA from both dung and tissue samples, a genotype was constructed, after which a parentage analysis is applied to assign calves to their correct parents across generations. In this way ORC hopes to be able to assess the genetic fitness of the population and advise on an optimum management plan to avoid inbreeding.

  • Ongava Tented Camp ©Dana Allen
  • Namibia map BWRE ©Wilderness Safaris
  • White Rhino Tracking Ongava ©Dana Allen

Accommodation

Desert Rhino Camp is situated in the 450000-hectare Palmwag Concession. The camp, set in a wide valley sometimes flush with grass, has eight large Meru-style tents with en-suite bathrooms. A tented dining and living area offers uninterrupted views of the desert and mountains, while extraordinary welwitschia plants dot the plain in front of camp.The emphasis is on solitude and privacy. Activities include rhino tracking on foot or by vehicle with Save the Rhino Trust trackers, full-day outings with a picnic lunch, birding and nature drives and guided walks.

Ongava Tented Camp is tucked into a hidden valley at the foot of a dolomite hill in Ongava Game Reserve. Eight large comfortable Meru-style tents all have en-suite facilities, open air showers and private verandas; the family unit sleeps four. The main area, built of stone, canvas and thatch, fronts onto a much-frequented waterhole.

The well-established Ongava Lodge is situated close to the top of a hill in the foothills of the Ondundozonanandana Mountain Range. The vantage point is beautiful and overlooks a well-frequented waterhole and the plains beyond. Ongava Lodge offers luxury accommodation in 14 rock and thatch en-suite chalets. There are impressive views over the camp's waterhole from the main lounge and dining areas and there is also an inviting pool to cool off in the heat of the day. Meals are either served in the main dining area under thatch or on the dining deck under the stars.

  • Desert Rhino Camp ©Wilderness Safaris

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