Black Rhino Tracking: a Unique Desert Experience

By: Gillian Meier

Tracking wildlife through the African wilderness has become a very popular activity in South Africa and is considered one of the ultimate safari experiences. Rhino tracking safaris present an informative, educational and entertaining African experience and the South African Kalahari Desert lends itself well to this unique safari adventure.

Experienced guides are experts in tracking, and their vast knowledge and skills bring travelers up close and personal with the rare desert-adapted black rhino. The desert black rhino is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN South African Red Data book while the other species of black rhino is listed as vulnerable. This subspecies is found primarily in the eastern regions of South Africa (Kruger National Park and Zululand). However, sprawled at the foot of the rugged Korannaberg in the Northern Cape Province, the Kalahari reserve boasts approximately 30% of the South Africa's desert black rhino population.

In June 1995, eight rhinos arrived at the Kalahari Reserve from Namibia and were released in the Korannaberg area. Today this desert black rhino population stands at around 30. This population growth has stunned conservationists and the reserve is ranked as one of the best places to see the desert black rhino in the Kalahari and possibly the entire country

The pristine environment is located deep in heart of a desert wilderness that is home to some of the world's most fascinating wildlife. Here travelers can spend the day tracking the rare desert black rhino with expert trackers through the black thorn landscape and sweeping sand dunes. The desert black rhino has a unique spoor which is almost like a human fingerprint. The red Kalahari sand clearly retains each footprint, making it possible to follow exactly a rhino's movements over the previous hours and even days. Every rhino has a unique pattern of cracks in its footprints providing for easy trackings by experienced scouts.

Learning how to track the desert black rhino and knowing what to look for is an invaluable experience. This unique and rewarding adventure will teach travelers how to observe the surrounding area for tracking indicators such as broken branches. Once fresh spoor is detected the trackers follow these tracks by carefully placing each step to avoid making too much noise and constantly checking the wind direction - ears pricked for a warning snort or crashing of branches and eyes straining to make out a solid grey shape in the bushes ahead. When the beautiful rare animal is spotted, the trackers will lead the group cautiously toward the rhino for a clearer view and identify the rhino using their unique ear notches.

Before quietly creeping away, the condition of the animal is carefully observed from a distance without disturbing the animal. Black rhinos live in a different world to us with notoriously poor eyesight, but an acute sense of smell and hearing. It is an exhilirating experience to stand quietly and admire these wonderful creaturs whhen the wind blows in the opposite direction. However, should they pick up the sound or scent of a human being; they habitually turn and run away. Coming face to face with a black rhino is an incredible thrill.

While tracking the desert black rhino in the Kalahari Desert guests will invariably encounter much other magnificent game during the guided walks that meander across silent red mystical Kalahari dunes. Apart from the black desert rhino, the Kalahari is also home to white rhino, lions, cheetah and more than 240 species of birds. A number of other rare and threatened species in the Kalahari include the mountain zebra, pangolin, wild dog, tsessebe and roan antelope.

Travel and Leisure
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Travel and Leisure
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles