Experience Rhino And Elephant Conservation Up Close – Sail+Leisure
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Experience Rhino And Elephant Conservation Up Close

by Ingrid Hale

Does the idea of participating in elephant and rhino research and monitoring activities appeal to you? It’s not often that one can join the conservation team on these amazing activities. But now Tintswalo Lapalala has opened up this experience to the public.

Take your pick

Tintswalo offers two conservation participation experiences that offer guests the unique opportunity to join the Lapalala conservation team in rhino and elephant research and monitoring activities.

Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve is committed to ensuring the survival of Africa’s rhinos. They apply best practice research, management and monitoring of these magnificent animals. The reserve conservation and veterinary teams are in the process of implementing various monitoring methods which include, ear-notching, DNA sampling, as well as the inserting of microchips on each animal.

Rhino monitoring experiences

RHINO CONSERVATIONGuests are invited to participate in an experience that will take place on four specific dates in 2021 (May 7-9; June 18-20; July 16-18; August 20-22). The veterinary team will dart and immobilize a white or black rhino and participants may assist with monitoring the animal during the capture. The DNA collection forms part of the Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhODIS), which is a forensic tool that stores a unique genetic fingerprint for every rhino sampled using blood, tissue and horn. It also plays an important part in Lapalala’s rhino security initiative and their fight against poaching. The DNA data may be used as evidence in court.

A delicate biosphere

The Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is located within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the past 40 years the reserve has become a beacon for wildlife research and conservation in South Africa. Recognised as one of the largest and most scenic private reserves in southern Africa, its abundance of flora plays home to a vast array of protected wildlife within its 48 500 hectares. This includes 300 bird species, 50 fish species, 147 mammal species, 114 reptile species, 33 amphibian species and various breeding projects. Eco-friendly Tintswalo Lapalala is operated off the grid to accommodate only 16 adults and four children, and as one of only two lodges within the reserve, it guarantees a rare, and personalised wilderness experience.

A rare elephant experience

Guests may also have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the giants of the bush during an elephant collaring operation. 27 elephants in the reserve are carefully monitored as part of the sustainable management of the population. When an elephant’s collar needs to be replaced, a small group of guests will have the chance to join this activity. An experienced ranger will drive the group in an open 4×4 safari to meet up with the helicopter used to locate and dart the elephant. Guests may assist the veterinary team monitor the elephant’s vital signs, such as breathing rate and temperature. DNA samples are collected while the elephant’s collar is replaced.

There’s a minimum requirement of eight participants. The cost of the conservation experiences is R16 000 for two people, added to the accommodation costs of a minimum stay of 3 nights. (Subject to availability. Dates of elephant experiences depend on the reserve conservation schedule).

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