Ranging from the common impala to the perilously endangered white rhino, South Africa’s wildlife is revered the world over. Each one of the country’s species is worth protecting; however, some need a little more attention than others. Doing its bit for conservation, The Oyster Box makes a donation of R1 to renowned charity Rhinos Without Borders for every key card returned to reception. Here, we profile the pioneering conservationists and their incredible mission to save the southern white rhino.
The fate of the African rhino
It’s been over a year since the heartrending death of Sudan, the world’s last living male northern white rhino. For decades, African rhinos have been the face of conservation efforts. Sudan’s last few years provided a poignant vignette: an aged, lonesome, wrinkled behemoth, weakly wandering the north African plains—at his side, at all times, a small cohort of dedicated rangers standing vigil against poachers.
Sudan’s plight has showcased the need for increased conservation efforts, especially against poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking. Despite a successfully recovered population of some 20,000 southern white rhinos, this species is now under threat. Since 2007, nearly 8,000 rhinos have been illegally poached, corresponding with a global increase of 9,000 per cent in rhino poaching across the globe. It is estimated a southern white rhino is poached every eight hours. The result: more rhinos lost each year than are born.
The Rhinos Without Borders mission
Enter Rhinos Without Borders. The initiative is set upon conserving the southern white rhino and aims to do so by relocating a number to the wilds of Botswana. While South Africa encompasses the majority of the rhinos’ traditional territory, the herds are densely packed and easy to track, and laws against poaching are less strict than in some neighbouring countries. In contrast, Botswana is a safe haven. The country currently benefits from one of the lowest poaching rates in the continent, with a dedicated anti-poaching unit and top-down political pressure complementing conservation efforts.
The translocation effort itself is immense. Where appropriate, a rhino is escorted via Botswanan military plane to an undisclosed, low-traffic air strip. From there, it is suspended beneath the chassis of a helicopter for an Apocalypse Now-style, low-altitude cruise above the country’s savannas. While these measures may seem dramatic, it is the least stressful method of translocation for the animal. Post-touchdown, each rhino is tagged with a specialised telemetry device and monitored closely to ensure it thrives in its new habitat.
So far, Rhinos Without Borders has translocated 87 rhinos to minimal-risk poaching zones, with the next batch due for transport in 2020. What’s more: the rhinos transported have begun to breed, having already welcomed 27 young calves to their new Eden. By translocating the animals, Rhinos Without Borders has created a new breeding zone for healthy adults, increasing genetic diversity. The resident Botswanan rhinos are just as thrilled as we are, given that, before the project, even locating a mate was a tall order. The hope is that, with two international rhino populations, the species as a whole will be much more resistant to poaching’s terrible depredations.
The rhinos’ movements remain strictly confidential—but as Botswana continues to receive more and more of the animals, they’re increasingly sighted in the country’s many national parks. Situated in the beauteous Okavango Delta, the soon-to-be-opened Xigera Safari Lodge looks forward to welcoming the gentle giants. As for now, Red Carnation Hotels is happy to play a small part in the species’ success story.
Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Oyster Box to be a part of the southern white rhino’s incredible conservation journey.