Can Luxury Travel Save the Rhino?

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The word 'safari' is actually a Swahili synonym of the Arabic word ‘safaryia’, which translates roughly as “to take a journey”. The concept of a safari is synonymous with the idea of movement, of voyage and exploration. The earliest safaris moved along trade routes in North and East Africa, where people bartered animals and goods for spices and silk from the Far East. Luxury travel was yet to be discovered.Then, in the 1900s, the naturalists and men of science came to Africa, following the missionaries. The safari began to be popularized around this time, especially following Henry Morton Stanley’s recovery of Livingstone and, later, President Theodore Roosevelt’s famed East-African safari. Martin and Osa Johnson safari to Africa and pioneered the anthropological and wildlife documentaries we know today. Unfortunately, the attention drawn by exploration to the African experience at that time also brought hunters to Africa since the early 1900s.Things have changed – today’s safaris, like the luxury Mobile Safari just launched by Singita, are concerned with the human footprint and are designed with minimal energy consumption in mind. The focus has shifted in the industry of luxury travel and the spotlight has fallen on conservation. Responsible Travel has become the buzzword of the Green traveler, and along with allowing local communities to earn a fair income from tourism; supporting local community initiatives; and limiting the environmental impact of the travel, Responsible Travel must support or encourage conservation.Safari-goers visiting the remote sectors of Tanzania’s Grumeti Reserves with Singita’s mobile safaris will be blessed to see one of the 100 remaining Eastern Black Rhinos in Tanzania. The animals are currently on the critically endangered list, with an all-time low of 2,300 individuals surviving in the wild. After the slew of devastating poaching incidents in Africa, and in the face of the total extinction of the rhino, the question is not so much whether travel should aid conservation, we know it should, but how can travel and conservation benefit one another?Conservation Corporation Africa's Sustainability Director Claire Howse explains that, although backpacking has it's place, budget travel is not necessarily the best or only solution for greener travelling. She maintains that luxury traveler potentially presents a significantly greater impact to the cause of environmental protection as a result of how much money they spend, when compared to the budget traveler. Not only does it take fewer high-end guests to support a wildlife concession (making the footprint of the luxury establishment lighter) but the income introduced by the luxury traveler has the potential to generate sustainable employment and defend wildlife reserves from other forms of land use.The sad fact is this: all five of the world’s rhino species have been brought to the edge of extinction because of the black market demand for their supposed medicinal properties and aesthetic value; beyond that, the cruelty and suffering involved in harvesting a single rhino horn is unimaginable. The current value of rhino horn on the black market is unknown, but in 1990, the two horns from a single black rhino fetched about $50,000. A live rhino is worth much more to us – it has the potential to create a positive and sustainable impact on the communities who share the land. If we don’t protect the animals that draw travelers from all across the world, the industry that has the potential to save our wildlife, and our people, will no longer exist. Perhaps it's time for us to reconsider the meaning of the safari - to look at it, not just as a journey, but as a voyage, a pilgrimage, in which our travel takes on meaning and we have a chance to contribute to the greater good.Howse suggests that the true potential of the travel experience in aiding conservation goes beyond the monetary contribution, and lies instead with the consciousness and awareness that is created in individuals when a feeling of connection is established between the traveler and the environment. This is the power and the true value of Africa’s wildlife.If you looking to experience responsible, eco-conscious tourism, and extremely comfortable accommodation then Rhino Post Safari Lodge is a great choice. The lodge was named after a rhino rubbing post which is now the lodge's car park. This area of the Kruger National Park is well-known for rhino sightings.

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