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Micro-chipping a Rhino

July 4th, 2017, by Katherine Chin

Out of all the amazing adventures we experienced during our staff educational trip in South Africa, micro-chipping a rhino was definitely the most special.

Our day started bright and early with a wake-up call at 5:30am. The schedule of the day was a surprise as the team at Shamwari were unsure if they would be able to find the rhino that needed to be micro-chipped in the time allotted. We met with the other half of our group in an open field and also met with Dr. Johan Joubert, head veterinarian at Shamwari, chief ecologist John O’Brien and Rodney Visser, head of Shamwari’s group security.

Dr. Joubert explained the process of micro-chipping a rhino and the importance of doing this type of work so that their team is able to monitor and locate rhinos to prevent poaching. Rodney explained that fortunately, in the past five years, there have been no poaching incidents at Shamwari. This is largely due to the success of his anti-poaching unit that is always on patrol.

In order to micro-chip the rhino, Dr. Joubert explained the type of drug that needed to be used and how the dosage was important as too much could affect the rhino’s blood levels and we could also have issues waking the rhino up after the implantation of the micro-chips. In addition to micro-chipping, DNA samples would also need to be collected from the hair from the rhino tail as well as from shavings from the rhino horn.

Shamwari has an extensive rhino conservation program. To assist the local anti-poaching team with identification, all rhino's will have their ears notched. Additionally, rhinos are also fitted with three microchips and DNA genotyped. The resident veterinarian will immobilize a rhino once in its lifetime to do the procedures. For the rhino’s safety, there was a helicopter on site during the darting process. 

Dr. Joubert explaining the process of darting and micro-chipping a rhino.

Did you know 95 per cent of rhinos have been wiped off the face of the earth in the past four decades?

After speaking with the team at Shamwari, we received the great news that the rhino had been located! Everyone hopped into their vehicles and off we went to the location where we spotted three white rhinos.

Dr. Joubert pointed out which rhino we needed to micro-chip and he took aim with his tranquilizer gun. With a swift “pfft,” sound, Dr. Joubert shot the gun and the rhinos took off running. We watched from a distance as one of the rhino slowed down and after a couple of minutes eventually laid down. We quickly drove over to where the rhino was and Dr. Joubert and John ran out from the vehicle and quickly covered the rhino’s eyes and plugged his ears. Although tranquilized, the rhino is still coherent so a mask and earplugs help keep the animal calm.

The team at Shamwari working to ensure the rhino is as comfortable as possible for micro-chipping.

 

In what seemed a flurry, but organized process, the team at Shamwari guided us as we helped to implant three micro-chips, one in each horn and at the back of the rhino’s neck, collected DNA samples and tagged his ear. After what seemed like five minutes, the team at Shamwari asked us to make our way back to our vehicles as Dr. Joubert injected the rhino with an antidote to the sedative it was darted with earlier. We watched from our vehicles as almost instantly, the rhino stumbled to his feet and walked off.

 

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Katherine, African Travel's Digital Marketing Manager, drilling a hole into the rhino horn in order to implant the micro-chip.
The rhino horn is made of keratin, the same protein that makes up hair and fingernails so drilling the hole into the horn is not harmful.

 

The rhino, walking away after having been micro-chipped. 

 

We all watched in wonder and with disbelief that we were able to participate in something so special.

To see us in action, watch this video of the micro-chipping process. 

Thank you to the team at Shamwari for letting us help in this initiative to conserve this amazing species. I know for all of us who had the opportunity to participate in this amazing, life-changing experience, it is one we will never, ever forget.

Looking to stay at Shamwari Game Reserve and help with rhino conservation? On our Majestic South Africa safari vacation, you will stay three nights at the luxurious Eagles Crag Lodge and for every booking we will be donating $50 per couple, in your name, to go towards building a new rhino boma at Shamwari. 

What’s a rhino boma? Read all about how staff helped build a new boma at Shamwari.

An Unforgettable Visit at Shamwari Game Reserve

July 4th, 2017, by Katherine Chin

An Unforgettable Visit at Shamwari Game Reserve

Covering 25,000 hectares with a choice of six luxury, 5-star lodges and abundant and diverse wildlife, it’s easy to see why malaria free, award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve is considered the best private game reserve in the eastern cape.

Staff from African Travel, Inc. recently stayed at Shamwari Game Reserve during a staff educational trip. We were graciously hosted by the teams at Bayethe Tented Lodge, Eagles Crag Lodge and Lobengula Lodge. Two very different lodges, but a few things remained constant - the staff, food and accommodations were all spectacular.  

Bayethe Tented Lodge
Named from the African greeting “By-ye-ti,” which means “I salute you,” this lodge has 12 detached tents, each of which can accommodate a maximum of two adults. A truly luxurious experience, each tent is equipped with an ensuite bathroom with six tents having outdoor showers and three tents having indoor showers.

Eagles Crag Lodge
As Shamwari’s premier lodge, Eagles Crag offers guests ultimate luxury, privacy and breath-taking scenery. All nine luxury suites can accommodate a maximum of two adults and include a private deck with plunge pool. All suites all offer uninterrupted views of the surrounding rock faces where guests can watch eagles soar.

Lobengula Lodge
Boasting panoramic views of the mountains and valleys, Lobengula has been designed to resemble a traditional African kraal. This lodge boasts six suites, each of which can accommodate two adults per suite. Nina, Lobengula’s manager and her team were excellent hosts welcoming us “home” after each game drive with hot chocolate, Chai tea or Sherry along with warm and refreshing hand towels. It was luxury at its finest and we all felt like VIP guests.

Our game rangers, Jan and Jacques also gave us the best game drive experiences. With three staff visiting South Africa for the first time, Jan and Jacques were so knowledgeable, fun and engaging and it was a special treat to spot four (rhino, lion, buffalo and elephant) out of the big five on our game drives.

Not only known for its luxury accommodations and unforgettable safari experiences, Shamwari Game Reserve is also one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. After visiting, it is absolutely clear how Shamwari leads in conservation and preservation. Read all about how African Travel, Inc. and Lion World Travel staff had the incredible opportunity to micro-chip a rhino.

Looking to stay at Shamwari Game Reserve and help with rhino conservation? On our Majestic South Africa safari vacation, you will stay three nights at the luxurious Eagles Crag Lodge and for every booking we will be donating $50 per couple, in your name, to go towards building a new rhino boma at Shamwari.

The Shamwari Experience

We Know Namibia

April 10th, 2017, by African Travel

We Know Namibia

For a truly unspoiled and authentic experience, a visit to Namibia is a must. It’s a place of great contrasts with seas of soft sand dunes and lush greenery. For seekers of the remote and profound, Namibia offers a one-of-a-kind wilderness experience with a landscape inhabited by incredible desert-adapted plant and animal life.

Here are our top five reasons to visit Namibia:

  1.  Skeleton Coast
    The wild Skeleton Coast coastline is home to Cape fur seals, black-backed jackals and the rare, brown hyena. Swirling mists brew where shipwrecks rest along the shorelines where a scenic flight over the dramatic landscape is the only way to see this unique region.
     

  2. Damaraland
    Known as the land of the rhinos, Damaraland is recognized as having the largest free-roaming black rhino population in Africa. From Rhino tracking to nature walks to game drives where you can see desert-adapted wildlife including giraffe, zebra and elephant, you will definitely want to explore this miraculous ecosystem.
     
  3. Sunshine
    Did you know that Namibia has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year? That makes it one of the sunniest countries in the world. The hot and dry climate make it a pleasurable safari vacation with most travelers preferring to travel during the months of May-October.
     

  4. Soussusvlei
    As Namibia’s most iconic landscape, the red sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park tower more than 900 feet above the surrounding plains. The spectacular landmark is a photographer’s dream with many visitors opting to climb the dunes for surreal views of the landscape.
     

  5. Cheetah
    Known as “Cheetah country,” Namibia is home to one third of the world’s entire cheetah population. Although they aren’t part of the Big Five, a trip to Africa wouldn’t be complete without seeing one and with Namibia having one of the densest cheetah populations, a visit offers the best chance to see these magnificent creatures.

If cheetahs, seeing the iconic red sand dunes and a truly authentic experience are part of your bucket list, why not book your safari vacation with African Travel, Inc. and discover the best of Namibia? Check out African Travel’s Namibia Desert Escape or speak to one of our Safari Specialists to create your own tailor-made safari.

All photo credits: Jessica Lynn Gafford

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