Going on safari is the type of dream vacation that can take years of planning and saving. The opportunity to observe wildlife like elephants, lions and rhinos, has all the makings of the trip of a lifetime.
Travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann took that bucket list trip to South Africa.
One of the biggest decisions, choosing between a public park versus a private reserve. Dana was staying in an area called KwaZulu-Natal at Thanda Private Game Reserve.
Game Drives happen twice a day, once early in the morning, just after sunrise, and again in the afternoon. In a public park, you are typically limited to the roadways. In a private setting, you have more opportunity to travel off-road, so your odds of spotting animals can increase.
Dana says sometimes it’s a matter of pulling just off the road that can make all the difference. She saw a pride of lions maybe a car’s length off the road, happily snoozing under the cover of some trees.
They had little desire to move, whether we were there or not. Both our tracker and guide believed the lions had recently finished a big breakfast, and this shady spot would be where they spent the rest of the day.
Many of the animals are amazingly good at hiding just off the side of the road. Technology helped us find this girl, one of the five cheetahs on the reserve. With less than 7,000 cheetahs believed to remain in the wild, the cheetahs at Thanda wear telemetry collars, so staff can check on them regularly and ensure they’re doing okay.
GPS technology is used to track elephants. But because elephants travel in herds, you only have to track one the find the group.
We caught up with these elephants on their way to the watering hole for a drink. They were probably the most entertaining group of wildlife that we encountered. And different from the lions and cheetah, there were definitely moments when the elephants, especially the young males, were curious about us and giving us the once over.
The matriarch or female leader of the herd, keep them in check. Conservation of all animals is a priority, but there’s a heightened concern when it comes to rhinos.
Rhino horns sell for astronomical prices on the black market, and the risk to the survival of the species due to poaching is real. Thanda has a large anti-poaching team, but in some cases, rhinos’ horns are trimmed to lessen the risk poachers will target them.
That’s why some rhinos may look different than expected in the video. A way to think about it is that it’s like trimming a fingernail, in a couple of years, a rhino’s horn grows back.
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