Five places to see African rhinos in the wild
Seeing rhinos in the wild can be an amazing experience. This article looks at five places where you are likely to come across these magnificent animals.
Central and East Africa expert Carel Verhoef picks the best locations to see a rhino up close — and tells us how we can help the species survive.
As the rhino population sadly declines, you should move heaven and earth to see this amazing animal in the wild before it’s too late. All five of the world’s rhino species are endangered and some are even on the brink of extinction. Seeing one of these majestic creatures in the wild should be high up on the list of any wildlife lover.
White rhino (northern and southern) and black rhino are the best-known sub species in Africa, but there are also Indian rhino, Javan rhino and Sumatran rhino. The northern white rhino is critically endangered, with only a handful left in captivity and a slim chance of them reproducing. The four subspecies of black rhino are either critically endangered or almost extinct. While the southern black rhino and southwestern black rhino are out of immediate danger for the moment, the East Africa black rhino in Tanzania’s numbers are declining. The northwestern black rhino was declared extinct in 2011.
Here are five places where you’ll have a good chance of spotting these magnificent creatures in the wild:
1. Ol Pejeta in northern Kenya’s Laikipia County is Africa’s largest rhino sanctuary, where rhinos have been protected since the 1970s. Guests are guaranteed good black and white rhino sightings on a daily basis in this well-managed private reserve. It’s also the only place to see the critically endangered northern white rhino in the wild today.
2. Lake Nakuru in Kenya’s Rift Valley existed as a rhino sanctuary throughout the poaching war of the 1970s and 1980s and still has a considerable rhino population. It’s possible to see up to 20 together at Lake Nakuru and both white and black rhinos are present.
3. Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is a great place to spot black rhino. The relatively small size of this caldera almost guarantees sightings, especially in the late afternoon when they emerge from the swamps to take a drink.
4. Desert Rhino Camp in Namibia looks after the rare southwestern black rhino. These free-roaming rhinos cover an extensive space, making them difficult to find, but time and persistence reward the patient viewer with incredible sightings of this rare species.
5. South Africa’s Hluhluwe Game Reserve has always been the country’s best area for seeing both white and black rhino, but the drastic increase in rhino poaching has had an impact even on Hluhluwe. Hopefully, the anti-poaching efforts in South Africa will soon have a positive impact on the rapidly declining rhino numbers in this once-prime rhino conservation area.
How can you help Africa’s rhinos today?
Do not geotag (take pictures with your mobile phone’s GPS active) rhinos in the wild. This gives their position away to possible poachers and makes them vulnerable to poaching.
Travel to Africa. The more people in protected areas, the harder it is for poachers to move around — especially in East Africa, where there are no fences.
There is a wonderful initiative currently underway to relocate Rhino from South Africa to Botswana — here they are safer and it is far easier to protect them.
Carel Verhoef is a ‘bush child’ who grew up beside a campfire in South Africa’s Kruger National Park during its wild days and went on to become a safari guide and manager in East Africa for 10 years.
Please ensure your Safari doesn’t harm the animals – read the RIGHT-tourism Wildlife Watching Guide
Have you been on any of the tours mentioned in this article? If so, please let us know how it went!
Picture courtesy of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust