Rhino poaching is a big problem for the national parks and game reserves in Southern Africa. The horns are used for traditional medicine and as status symbols, which is a huge waste of an animal’s life, similar to the elephants being slaughtered for their ivory. They have also been hunted close to extinction and it is the efforts of wildlife conservation agencies that have brought them back to sustainable numbers.

However, despite efforts to curtail the hunting of these animals, and ban international trade in rhino horn, there is still a large (illegal) market for rhino horn, and hundreds of white and black rhinos are killed every year for their horns.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary was set up in the early 1990s by the local community with support from Ian Khama who was a conservationist, and lends the sanctuary his name. They started with just four white rhinos in 8500 of hectare bushland, and today have numerous white and black rhinos as well as over 30 other animal species.

This relatively small game reserve does have a significant advantage. They have active patrols by heavily armed rangers and BDF soldiers. These rangers spend time in the bush tracking the rhinos closely. In this way, they are permanently on site and protect the rhinos from any potential poaching activity. Although this is not unique, the smaller size of the conservancy allows them to stay in close proximity to the rhinos, whereas other game reserves (like perhaps Kruger Park) have a huge area to cover.

It is certainly the first time I have witnessed these guys doing their job like this. And it allows the rhinos to keep their horns. In other countries and national parks, the rhinos have been de-horned to protect them. At entry, there is a comprehensive check-in process, (apparently, they lost a couple of rhinos to poachers posing as tourists, but this hasn’t been confirmed), so they check passports and everything, and it is totally understandable. You only have one chance here, when they’re gone, they’re gone…

A short drive leads you to the restaurant and bar area. There is a pool here as well, and the cold beer and good food make a good alternative to the daily braai at each campsite.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gMYHbAIFOY

Charming

The campsites are spacious and widely spread, so you have plenty of bushveld privacy. Each has a braai area, a campfire pit and a water tap. The ablution blocks are a short walk away with warm water showers and are clean (if a little dated, like the rest of Botswana’s wildlife parks). There is an abundance of birdlife here, and we count at least a dozen different species in camp the next morning.

Game drives are also easily managed in such a relatively small environment, and a waterhole is soon found where we catch some eland (a rare sighting for us) and some rhinos – which we came to see. Impalas and giraffe complete the picture, and some lesser-spotted game rangers, on foot, shadowing the rhino… Something you don’t see every day. What we also didn’t have time for was to go a little deeper into the bushveld to try and spot the other wildlife, even leopards. But that is for another time.

It is a charming place to visit. Friendly staff, good facilities, lovely surroundings and a commendable goal to protect these endangered animals. Come out here and support them and if there’s one thing that is guaranteed it is a rhino sighting!

Thanks for the memories, Botswana

It is our last stop on our three-week Botswana tour and we sadly need to pack our 4x4s and leave for Johannesburg, which is an easy 600-kilometre drive (on tarmac after all!). We have had an incredible time exploring this fascinating country and experienced so many different things. Like a Mokoro in the Okavango, the heat of the Kalahari, some safari comfort in Chobe Safari Lodge, elephants in camp in Nxai Pan, great hospitality, friendly people, stunning open campsites and that exhilarating African vibe!

Great! Now we have to come back and do it again!