Both the Black and White Rhino are among the rarest big mammals in Africa, and certainly the least common of the “Big Five”. Some major safari destinations like Botswana’s Okavango Delta is home to just a handful of recently relocated white rhino, so your odds of seeing one on safari are minimal. On the other hand, South Africa is home to almost 80% of white rhino left in the world, so your chances of seeing rhino in the Kruger area, or at some of the better private reserves in Madikwe, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, are excellent. Here are the top National Parks and Conservancies where you have an excellent chance of seeing rhino in the wild.
1. Greater Kruger Area, South Africa
Despite the intense poaching activity in the Kruger area, this is still home to the largest rhino population on earth. You have a very good chance of seeing both white and black rhino here (despite plans to relocate hundreds of individuals away to safer locations). You can see rhino in the national park, as well as the private concessions bordering the National Park, they include: Sabi Sand Reserve, Manyaleti, and Timbavati.
2. Private Game Reserves in Madikwe, KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape
Many rhinos have been relocated to the relative safety of smaller, privately owned reserves throughout South Africa.Kwandwe in the Eastern Cape is an excellent choice to see rhino up close, and I would also recommend Phinda and any lodge within the Rhino Reserve in KwaZulu Natal. Madikwe is also a great option, check out Jamala Madikwe as a recommended lodge. Some lodges will be able to organize rhino tracking and walking safaris in advance. More »
3. Etosha National Park (Namibia)
Etosha is Namibia’s top wildlife destination and one of the best bets to see the endangered black rhino, as it is home to the largest population left in the wild. The park is also home to a fairly large number of white rhino (as well as 91 other species of mammal). Etosha is especially popular with photographers in the dry season who flock to the waterholes (along with the wildlife). The National Park doesn’t offer scheduled game drives, it’s a self-drive safari experience. But there are several excellent upmarket lodges and camps available just outside the park boundaries in private reserves, where guided safaris are part of the package. Another excellent option to spot the black rhino in Namibia is Damaraland, stay at Desert Rhino Camp, a Wilderness property for an excellent experience. More »
4. Lewa Conservancy and Ol Peteja in Kenya
I’ve been lucky enough to see white rhino in the Masai Mara, but you have much better odds in Ol Pejeta Conservancy (stay atPorini Rhino Camp) or in the beautiful Lewa Conservancy (where you might bump into Prince William on holiday). Both these conservancies have been instrumental in rhino conservation and it has paid off. More »
5. Rhino Conservation
Rhinos have roamed the earth for more than 50 million years and now walk around with a price tag of about $180,000 on the end of their noses. Because of this, you are more likely to see them in the smaller private reserves where they need round the clock protection. Even that is not always enough as statistics show that poaching is still rife in 2015.
- There are thought to be 29,000 rhinos left in the world, 20,000 of which live in South Africa.
- Over 1000 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2014.
- Rhino horn has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, it is thought to cure a number of ailments from fevers to gout, and these days it’s rumored to help cure cancer
- The main markets for rhino horn include China, Vietnam and Thailand where the upcoming middle classes can afford to spend more on traditional medicine.
- Asia only has 3,000 rhino left (no surprise given the local demand)
More About African Rhinos
There are two species of rhino in Africa, the Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) and the White rhino (Ceratotherium simum). Black rhinos have suffered the most drastic reduction in population in the last 20 years. There are now only about 4000 left in the wild although valiant conservation efforts are increasing those numbers. The white rhino is more numerous numbering at over 17,000 but they are heavily concentrated in Southern Africa.