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Going the Extra Mile on World Rhino Day

In celebration of World Rhino Day we thought it would be fun to do a little digging and find some of the best lodges in Africa where travelers can witness rhinos in the wild and support conservation efforts. First announced and celebrated in 2010, World Rhino Day was started by the World Wildlife Fund South Africa in an effort to raise awareness about rhino poaching. According to the WWF South Africa website, the country has lost 769 rhinos in the last year. Not a promising statistic considering South Africa is home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinoceros population. This year, hundreds of zoos, animal sanctuaries and organizations such as the International Rhino Foundation have joined together to fundraise for anti-poaching campaigns and educate the public about the profitable and ill-informed rhino horn industry taking hold in China and Vietnam.

As it turns out, travelers can make quite a difference in the war against poaching. Travelers who choose sustainable and conservation-minded lodges and tour companies help save local wildlife by promoting the message that tourism is more beneficial and profitable than poaching. An increasing number of community members across southern and eastern Africa are choosing to focus their energy and talent on opening sustainably-run lodges or safari companies. While there are many of these companies to investigate, five in particular caught our attention.

Jock Safari Lodge

Kruger National Park, South Africa

When it comes to sustainability and low environmental impact, Jock Safari Lodge stands out like a green thumb. Built to strict South African eco-management criteria and monitored by Kruger National Park and the Department of Environment and Tourism, Jock Safari Lodge has proven that it has its full attention on maintaining its unique heritage. Built on the legend of the author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and his dog, Jock, the lodge offers tranquility, adventure, stunning landscapes, and memories that will last a lifetime. This year for World Rhino Day, Jock Safari Lodge is offering special deals for travelers and is donating proceeds to the Forever Wild - Rhino Protection Initiative.  

Madikwe Game Reserve

South Africa

One of South Africa’s largest game reserves, Madikwe is home to 66 mammal species and approximately 300 bird species. It has also been touted as being one of the most sustainable reserves in the area. Madikwe is a joint venture run by the State, the private sector and local communities in an effort to relocate and rehabilitate threatened and endangered animal populations and provide a safe haven for all. According to their website, “more than 8,000 animals of 28 species have been released into Madikwe Game Reserve, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyaena, giraffe, zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores.” Travelers have several lodging options when staying on the reserve, many of which are owned and operated by nearby community groups and are focused on sustainability.

Desert Rhino Camp

Damaraland, Namibia

Wilderness Safaris

Desert Rhino Camp, promoted by Wilderness Safaris, is located smack dab in the middle of the largest free-ranging black rhino population in Africa. Its eight raised Meru-style tents are situated along the hills of the 450,000 hectare Palmwag Concession. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are known to be some of the most breathtaking. Along with a small pool and a fire pit, this camp is sure to be the setting of unforgettable memories.

Grootberg Lodge

Kunene, Namibia

African Wildlife Foundation

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, Grootberg Lodge is the first middle-market, sustainable, wildlife lodge in Namibia that is owned entirely by a conservancy. This tiny piece of paradise has only 12 rooms and works to benefit the local community while serving visitors with the utmost care. With help from other organizations, Grootberg Lodge has been able to provide employment opportunities for impoverished areas and is planning to implement projects to build schools, a community kitchen and medical facilities. The lodge offers tempting meals and high levels of service but also goes above and beyond by hiring trained guides to accompany guests on various activities. On top of all this, Grootberg Lodge has tackled the human/animal conflict that has been an ongoing  problem in neighboring communities. With the financial benefits of tourism easing their economic strain, herdsman are beginning to become tolerant of livestock predators and crop grazers such as lions and elephants.

“While we invite our guests to enjoy the beauty and solitude of our world, they can do so while knowing that they are helping us achieve more than meets the eye.”  - Grootberg Lodge

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Lewa Downs, Kenya

Gamewatchers Safaris

A 62,000 acre ranch and wildlife sanctuary, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home to over 10 percent of Kenya’s black rhino population and 14 percent of their white rhino population. Surrounded by mountains just south of Isiolo, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers incredible views of Samburu, Ololokwe and the Mathews’ mountain range. Apart from rhinos, visitors witness lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo. Gamewatchers Safaris is dedicated to conservation efforts and works tirelessly to equip young community members with the knowledge and skill set to make a lasting impression in sustainable tourism.

All photos were purchased on Pond 5.com 
September 22, 2014

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