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  • Thank you more particularly for arranging my trip to nDzuti, at such short notice and against all the odds of stolen passport and therefore also no currency exchange! I did so appreciate the utter trust you placed in me when you paid for the entire trip yourself! I hope you did not have a sleepless night! In recommending nDzuti I think you interpreted my wishes exactly! The style of the place suited me perfectly and it was the most marvellous experience. The facilities, as you will have found, were fairly basic but quite adequate for a comfortable stay. Brett and Sherie were welcoming and hospitable. Sherie supplied plenty of nourishing food for breakfast, lunch and supper in a friendly, homely fashion. Brett was a great guide on our safari drives. The lodge was full for the first night, including a lively and talkative family group, but when they departed midday on Monday it was then calm and peaceful, with just a young couple and myself, and it was a real joy to be in the midst of the vastness of the bush with no other people within sight or sound! The wildlife, apart from fairly ubiquitous impala, was somewhat scarce (not that I have any measure of experience to go by!) but I liked the feeling that there was no guarantee of seeing game that was free to roam far and wide. Sometimes fleeting glimpses were all the more exciting for being so brief! We did get very good viewings as well! On the first evening we saw quite a wide range of wildlife, including a close-up of a very large rhino who was not in any hurry! On the way home in the dark we came across a lioness with two 6 week old cubs (what a great guide we had!). I was amazed how unperturbed she was by our presence and was moving in a very leisurely way, so we had extremely good viewing. Brett found them again the following evening, just as relaxed, with the cubs playing within yards of the landrover - fantastic! Talking of lions, that same evening, as we relaxed after supper, Brett heard a couple of lions roaring some distance away and said "Let's go and find them!" - so he did, and in the spotlight we saw two fine males unhurriedly patrolling their territory. Again they were totally unfazed by our presence, stopping for a scratch and a lie down. While the lights were turned off to conserve batteries, a roar from a far distant lion prompted a response from our two, and their roaring just a few yards from us in the darkness was a spine-tingling experience! We spent some time tracking a leopard which was stalking impala and which Brett was determined to find, but we had to be content with leopard tracks! Elephant were unusually elusive and it was only on the final morning that Brett located a fine 25 year old male after hearing a solitary trumpet from across the river, so I did see all the big five except the leopard. Together with sightings of many other mammals, birds and reptiles as well as the bush, the scenery and stunning panoramic views it was a wonderful and memorable safari trip! Some people might want slightly more sophisticated accommodation and cuisine but the style of nDzuti in the hands of Brett and Sherie suited me very well. With many thanks for your excellent arrangements of my safari trip, best wishes, Gervase.
    - Gervase .UK
Hoedspruit Accommodation

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Winning the Rhino War only to lose again?

Published 1 November 2010 under Travelogue • Comments: 2
Winning the Rhino War only to lose again?

Poaching Rhino now (2010) and then (1995)

Will this scourge of Rhino poaching never cease? As I considered writing about this topic so close to my heart I feel picture stays the same somewhat. The numbers grow , arrests are made,  there was simply nothing to say that hasn’t yet been said. But with the almost daily bombardment of shocking images, blaring headlines and sad statistics on tabloid and screen there is a fury growing and maybe this is what we require.

Years ago during the transitional years of South Africa there was also a sudden surge in rhino poaching and at that time, together with our team of committed colleagues we formed Rhino Monitoring Units. This was probably the first in the now extensive field of Volunteer Tourism and was a proactive effort to prevent poaching by a strong presence and vigilant monitoring. Understandably this is no easy task when we are talking free roaming rhino in extensive reserves. To monitor rhino we made use of technology. Then we used the ground-breaking invention of the GPS and grid maps to plot rhino movements and home ranges. We were donated camera equipment by Cannon and lugged bulky video and still cameras around the bush to later print out rolls of film and edit hours of video tape. Technology was the answer; we even researched micro chipping the rhino horns with tracking devices that would be activated upon removal from the body and generally looked to modern electronic devises to make the monitoring both ground breaking and fun.

Ironically, it is the progress in technology since that time, that now poses the biggest threat to rhino. It is estimated that because of modern technology the time between the poaching act and the horn arriving on the market has been whittled down to a mere 48 hours in some cases. Cell phones and the internet make passing on information about the whereabouts of rhino a breeze. Poachers use helicopters, night vision scopes and veterinary drugs to track down and kill rhinos.
In the 1990’s when we ran the RMU project the main market for rhino horn was Yemen  where it is tradition that, upon puberty a father will give his son a dagger called a djambiyya with the handle often fashioned out of rhino horn. Encouragingly the Yemen market appears to all but dried up now.This is apparently the direct result of a CITES initiative who embarked upon an awareness programme with the Yemen people about the result of their using of rhino horn for Yambiya handles, but also the down turn in the economy of that country recently.
In 2010 we face a new, emerging and greedy market in China where the Chinese economy has just become the strongest in the world by surpassing the USA. Vietnam has also become a player cunningly finding loopholes in the law and legally hunting rhino under our noses and then immediately converting the trophy to contraband upon arrival back in Vietnam. Alarmingly the Vietnamese Embassy personnel and property seems to be either used or involved in the sourcing and smuggling of rhino horn in South Africa.
With these seemingly massive threats to our prized rhino population we look again to technology for solutions. There is a movement towards compiling a national data base of Rhino DNA and increasing the use of forensics to both protect our rhino and prosecute the poachers. There is yet again talk of micro chipping but with new complications and possible counter innovation by the syndicates. Somehow we need to be one step ahead of these poaching syndicates and employ every method we can. South African’s cannot have saved our Rhino from the brink of extinction in the 1920’s to loose that same battle one hundred years later.
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