WIN: A Close-up Encounter with a Rhino

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Would you like to meet a rhino close up? How about getting involved with a real-life rhino conservation exercise?

Touching the tough hide of a rhino or feeling its breath on your hand is hard to put into words, but, by donating 50 000 or more of your Voyager Miles to WWF South Africa you and a partner could experience it for yourselves.

By: Melissa du Preez

Perched along a hilly landscape of one of WWF’s Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) sites in KwaZulu-Natal, we waited for a sighting of a young rhino that would be part of our 11th population. We were caught in the blistering tail of a cold front that had swept the province and stood huddled together.

The frost was quickly forgotten when the rhino was spotted, darted and airlifted to a transport site.

On its approach, the ground team heaved into action. Each person knows their job, rehearsed time and again. It’s like watching an orchestra as the conductor waves his baton, each musician weaving into the symphony to create a harmonic production.

Hands reached skyward to receive the rhino as she was lowered gently to the ground.

A capture team from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife work on a black rhino shortly after its capture as part of the Black Rhino Range Expanion Project.

As the suspension cord was removed, an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife vet made sure she was safe and healthy before she was rocked awake and guided into a nearby crate to be loaded onto a truck and transported to the bomas before heading to her new home.

Seeing the pictures and video of a capture can’t express the awe of feeling the same wind that keeps the helicopter aloft on your skin, or the weightiness of the cable that holds the rhino securely or, most importantly, to feel the heat through its tough hide as blood courses through its body.

A close-up of an immobilised black rhino. Note the hooked lip which is characteristic of this endangered species.

How to win your own rhino experience

By donating 50 000 of your Voyager Miles, you and a partner could win a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal and participate in the darting of a rhino for conservation purposes – be it for dehorning, transportation or collaring (this will be a ground exercise and not an airlift).

The prize for two includes return domestic flights to Durban from any major South African airport, two nights in luxury accommodation and return transfers. The competition closes on 31 March and the winner will be announced in mid-April.

Donating miles is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

  1. Log into your Voyager account at www.flysaa.com
  2. Choose “Voyager Shopping” and select “Donate Miles”
  3. Under “Target Account”, select WWF and make your donation

Watch this short video showing a black rhino release to see what great work this programme is doing.

Main Image: Ursina Rusch from the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project administers an antidote to a black rhino during a release operation.

T&Cs apply

Words by Melissa du Preez

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