How to join rhino tagging teams on new ecotourism trips

CONSERVATION and tourism are not always happy bedfellows – but a new initiative in South Africa is inviting travellers to join rhino tagging teams working to safeguard the gentle giants.

Tswalu, the country’s largest private game reserve, is introducing a new wildlife experience focusing on important data collection of the endangered rhino populations of the Southern Kalahari.

From now until September, guests can join rhino notching teams to gather information that will be analysed and support protected rhinos, which have suffered an alarming decline over recent years.

During what is described as “an intimate wildlife experience”  trained trackers and veterinarians set out across the Kalahari to dart young rhinos, ideally between two and three years old.

After marking and associating the rhino with a recorded number, the team plants a small microchip under the skin and horns for future identity and security purposes.

DNA samples are then collected and later added into a global database that helps track animals and assists in the prevention of illegally traded rhino horns.

During the encounter, guests form part of the ground crew and are invited to take part in the microchipping experience by helping monitor the rhino’s body temperature and breathing.

The private rhino notching experience isn’t cheap at $7,265 (£5,845) but it also covers the costs of a wildlife veterinarian, the specialised drugs in the darts, and flying expenses.

Guests can further participate in Tswalu’s initiatives by donating directly to the reserve. All funds contribute to a rhino conservation project to re-establish populations where they can be protected.

Tswalu Kalahari’s low-impact approach to ecotourism ensures that revenue flows directly back into conservation work. With only two camps, it accommodates just 30 people and has the lowest guest footprint in South Africa. The property is unique in that it has a foundation dedicated to research.

To learn more, see All images courtesy Marcus Westburg/Tswalu.

Categories:AfricaTags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: