Safari operators step up conservation efforts
A number of tourism companies are playing a far greater role in African conservation
As dusk settles over the Okavango Delta, we spot him ambling through the grass — vast and grey, like a battleship at sea. He looks up, spots us, and turns his focus back to the grass he’s grazing. While any encounter with a white rhino is special, this one is particularly so: we’ve just seen Serondela, one of the first white rhinos moved to the Delta in a translocation project that started in 2001 and still continues. By the mid-1980s, only a handful of white rhinos were left in Botswana due to poaching; the country’s last black rhino was shot in 1983. That was the year Wilderness Safaris was founded in the Delta. It was this outfit — which now runs 48 lodges and safari camps in seven African countries — that proposed bringing black and white rhinos back to Botswana. With the resurgence of poaching in SA and Zimbabwe over the past decade, that relocation served to establish founder populations in Botswana, and provided these animals with a relatively safe habitat. The reintroduction...