Game Capture Safari at Madikwe
Every day I wake up and dread the sound of my phone going off with another update on a rhino that has been poached. This crisis is very real and the threat of our rhinos going extinct is a reality. There are many people on the ground doing tireless work, and these people must all be commended. But, this work needs to be combined with the powers that be at government level, and pressures must be put on our “friends” in the East.
In terms of work at ground level, Safari Architects are lucky enough to be involved and affiliated to a company called WildCon Safaris and Events. What this essentially entails, is involving guests in what conservation activities need to be done on the ground in Southern Africa’s reserves. This includes conservation work such as collaring of elephants, ear notching and micro chipping rhino’s, transfer of animals, disease testing and a variety of other activities. This is done by experienced wildlife vets and reserve mangers, along with WildCon guides to ensure maximum hands on involvement and safety both for the guests and the animal. These game captures and dartings are based around wildlife conservation of some of our most iconic species such as lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo, wild dog and cheetah.
So, this last weekend I headed to Madikwe Private Game Reserve and assisted in the darting, ear notching and micro chipping of 6 white rhinos. We had a large group of guests with us from Investec (A big thank you – they sponsored the conservation work!!) who were all super excited to be a part of the events to follow. Madikwe has a very healthy rhino population, but it has also been hit by recent surges in poaching incidents, with the majority of animals being poached in the Northern sectors. This is where we would intensify our search for animals to work on, as this would be the best area to start.
After a briefing by the vet and operations manager, we headed off on a brisk chilly Friday morning. The chopper went up, and quickly found us a large bull to work on. Once it starts, it actually goes very quickly to minimise the impact on the animal, and I am still amazed at the professionalism of the vets, chopper pilots and ground teams. Once the Bull was down, myself and the guests come in and assist with various tasks that need to be done. Breath rates per minute, body temperature, horn lengths and circumferences are just a few of the things that the guests themselves will measure. It truly is an amazing experience to be able to be so close with a magnificent animal, and at the same time be a part of its conservation. As quickly as it starts and once the ear notching and microchips have been inserted, the antidote is injected and the within minutes the Rhino is off and on its own!
We were lucky enough to work on 6 animals over the course of the weekend, all unique and of different sizes. I think one of the highlights was getting to work on a fully grown 2 ton cow. You really do not understand the size of the animal until you are on the ground with it. Truly magnificent and she took our breath away! Overall, these events are absolutely necessary, and what better way to fund them by getting guests involved so that they can have a once in a lifetime experience with one of their favourite animals. Conservation through sustainable guest involvement, I love it! Let’s hope this work done at ground level can be complimented by the powers that be, so that we can all show our future grandchildren the beauty and grace of our iconic wild animals.
Yours in Conservation
Copy courtesy of Chris Renshaw, images courtesy of Wildcon and Chris Renshaw