Our Conservation Safari is an opportunity to join the experts in the field, a chance to assist the conservationists who have been performing award-winning wildlife conservation work on the front-lines for more than a decade. This experience is unique in that it includes everything that an African safari offers, but is also a truly meaningful and valuable experience.
This bespoke Conservation Safari is for those who wish to join our professionals on the ground, to participate in and gain an in-depth understanding of what is happening in the field of African wildlife conservation, while simultaneously enjoying the comforts and luxuries that a private game reserve offers.
Conservation Safari activities include
- Orientation and Conservation Game Drives
- Participation in a Rhino Dehorning
- A Rhino Tracking Walk and Monitoring
- A Bush Walk to collect camera trap data
- Endangered Species Monitoring sessions
- And evening sun-downers to celebrate and discuss the day’s activities.
Participants in Wildlife ACT’s conservation safaris will have the privilege of joining active and passionate conservationists in carrying out vital work which forms part of the conservation strategy of our organisation.
This work includes
- Involvement in the camera trap work, which aligns with the long term Leopard Survey of the province,
- Rhino Conservation efforts to reduce incentives for poachers to enter protected areas,
- And Endangered Species Monitoring, which enables management to make informed decisions on crucial conservation actions.
One of the key strategies is to dehorn Rhino populations in reserves with smaller populations, which acts as an effective deterrent to poachers. You will participate in the capture operation and witness the team at work over the course of a day. We may have to be flexible on the dates of this work due to weather, so have set it for the first morning to account for this.
Endangered Species Monitoring
Monitoring endangered species is an essential and critical step in their conservation. Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT gathers on our various projects, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of Africa’s wildlife.
The Leopard Survey
Leopard have been somewhat overlooked from a conservation perspective and recent findings have shown a rapid decline across all of their historic range. Monitoring has therefore been identified as a key activity in order to better understand this secretive cat.
Camera trapping is one of the most effective ways to monitor Leopards and other elusive, nocturnal species. Wildlife ACT works in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Panthera to carry out an annual provincial Leopard Survey.
The data from camera trap images is used to determine Leopard densities, demographics and population trends at various key sites in KwaZulu-Natal. This information is utilised in provincial and national management planning and decision making. Traditional monitoring techniques, such as direct observation, are somewhat ineffective for Leopards due to their elusive and solitary behaviour, wide home ranges, and ability to move in and out of protected areas.
Manyoni Private Game Reserve
In 2004, 17 private properties in the northern Zululand area dropped their fences forming what is today known as Manyoni Private Game Reserve (formerly Zululand Rhino Reserve). The impetus for forming the reserve was to provide a home to a population of Black Rhinos as part of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. The joining of the properties created a 23,000 hectare private game reserve in the heart of Zululand, in one of the most animal-rich and species-diverse areas of South Africa. In addition to Black Rhino, the reserve is now home to all of the Big 5 (Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard, Lion) and has seen the re-introduction of two endangered carnivore species, Cheetahs and African Wild Dogs.
Moving from strength to strength, the Zululand Conservation Trust was established in 2011 and has cemented a strong partnership with the local communities through various conservation projects. The Trust also provides the reserve with much-needed support in the fight against wildlife crime. A significant achievement was the proclamation of the reserve as a Nature Reserve under the Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 (the highest conservation status possible). Manyoni Private Game Reserve is recognised as a site of biodiversity importance and contributes to the provincial conservation targets and endangered species meta-populations. It is one of only a handful of large successful private reserves in Zululand.
Somkhanda Game Reserve
Somkhanda Game Reserve is a community-owned reserve managed by Wildlands in partnership with the Emvokweni Community Trust, the representatives of the Gumbi Tribe. Somkhanda has grown from a vision of the Gumbi Tribe to become the first community-owned reserve to be proclaimed under the Protected Areas Management Act, meaning that this community has committed their land to biodiversity conservation for the foreseeable future. Somkhanda is supported by the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project and has a healthy population of both Black and White Rhino that Wildlife ACT helps to monitor.
Somkhanda Game Reserve is situated within a Key Biodiversity Area and forms part of the ecologically-important Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot. The reserve is an integral part of the Zululand Corridor and improved management and integration will lead to the realisation of a mega reserve and large scale conservation. Such corridors are important for migratory animals such as Black Rhino, Vulture species and African Wild Dogs. In addition to direct jobs that are created through the reserve, development also produces a net income to the community of which a portion is used to catalyse and support sustainable community development. Reserve management has focused on the re-introduction of a number of priority and ecologically important species, focusing on returning the reserve to natural historical systems. These include Black and White Rhino, Elephant, several predator species including African Wild Dog and Lion, and a host of general game.
Accommodation, Rates & Itinerary
- Luxury Conservation Safari – Rhino Sands (www.rhinosands.com)
- Mid-Range Conservation Safari – Rhino River Lodge (www.rhinoriverlodge.co.za)
- Hands-on Conservation Safari – Somkhanda Kudu Camp
About Wildlife ACT
Wildlife ACT was established in South Africa in 2008 with a vision to save Africa’s iconic and endangered species from extinction, thereby enabling broad-scale biodiversity conservation. Through strategic partnerships and sustainable funding models, our mission is to:
- Implement professional and strategic monitoring and research to enable and inform effective conservation management of wildlife;
- Identify and develop programmes within surrounding communities to support wildlife conservation;
- Secure existing protected areas and support range expansion of African wildlife.
Wildlife ACT is pleased to enable their supporters to come and join them in the field and have a meaningful and impactful experience.
Wildlife ACT Conservation Work on Manyoni
Wildlife ACT’s main focus on Manyoni is the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Elephant and Lion. During these monitoring sessions, any incidental sightings of other priority species including Rhino, Vultures and Leopard, will also be recorded. Our team also occasionally assists with game counts and vegetation assessments on Manyoni. Wildlife ACT has also been fundraising to support the much needed dehorning of rhino on Manyoni to protect them from poachers in this park.
Project Rhino Background
Unfortunately the Zululand region has become one of the focal points for the criminal syndicates and the poaching of rhino is still has a big impact in the region. Wildlife ACT is a co-founder of Project Rhino which is an association of like-minded organisations facilitating rhino conservation interventions aimed at eliminating rhino poaching and securing the white and black rhino populations of KwaZulu-Natal. The members of Project Rhino recognise that the work in conserving and protecting rhinos from the threat of poaching is symbolic of the broader threat faced by all wildlife, and that all wildlife will benefit from actions taken by Project Rhino. The association is also aware that the poaching of rhino is symptomatic of the overall, bigger environmental crises facing South Africa and its neighbours.
Project Rhino’s collective approach to rhino anti-poaching is both proactive and reactive, and includes:
- Community Engagement, Education & Awareness
- Legislation & Judiciary
- Lobbying & Strategic Relationships
- Fundraising & Publicity
Project Rhino’s members, individually, have a wide range of rhino conservation and anti-poaching strategies, with each member focusing on their specific areas of expertise.
Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP-Wing)
As a result of Project Rhino’s ethos of collaboration, projects and campaigns in partnership with other organisations have been initiated. The Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing is a partnership between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, private game reserves and NGOS.ZAP-Wing undertakes daily aerial patrols, assists rangers and APU teams in pursuit of poaching gangs, transports APU teams, SAPS and even K9 units into remote areas, investigates suspicious vehicles, notifies game reserves of unusual activities around their boundaries and helps to locate missing rhinos in difficult terrain. Its value also extends to other wildlife at risk of poaching, not just rhino. Benefit is also being seen from joint operations with law enforcement agencies.
Zululand Leopard Survey
Wildlife ACT is a partner in the KwaZulu-Natal Leopard Monitoring Project, which forms part of the world’s largest Leopard survey of its kind. Over the past seven years, our team has spent countless hours setting up camera trap surveys, collecting, compiling, and aiding in preliminary camera trap data analysis, and finally taking all the equipment out of the field and relocating to the next study site.
This work aids in genetic sample collection, through the accurate identification and collection of Leopard scat (faeces) samples. These samples are collected for the most comprehensive study of Leopard genetics in the world. Panthera are developing a genetic reference database for Southern Africa to investigate the scale of and identify Leopard populations most affected by the illegal trade in Leopard skins. Well-researched and impactful management decisions can only be taken if there is a robust data set available.
The Leopard Monitoring Project’s report on estimated Leopard population density and trends fulfils both a provincial and national mandate for species protection. Wildlife ACT is a proud partner and contributor to this collaborative, effective, and ongoing project.