The best safaris are about a lot more than picturesque tented camps and iconic wildlife; they have a conservation-minded sense of purpose. I’ve been doing a lot of research on safaris and Africa’s endangered wildlife lately—you would be too if you were interviewing Geoffrey Kent, founder of Abercrombie & Kent, onstage at the Skift Global Forum next month—and I just want to share a riveting update when it comes to safaris with a mission: Uma Thurman’s Journey to Protect Africa’s Wildlife from Vicious Poachers, in the October 2015 issue of Town&Country.
“Rhinos have lived on this earth for millions of years, but wildlife experts estimate they may be gone in just 10—poached to extinction,” reports Town&Country executive travel editor Klara Glowczewska, who traveled in Africa with Thurman to cover the story. Approximately 4.5 rhinos are slaughtered every day, killed for their horn, which sells for as much as $35,000 a pound, making it more valuable than gold. Rhino horn is coveted by the newly rich in Vietnam, where it is viewed as medicinal and an aphrodisiac, and where it is ground into powder and used as a cocaine-like party drug.
Last year South Africa’s Kruger National Park lost 10% of its rhinos to poachers. In Botswana rhinos are better protected. So the government of Botswana and the safari operator Wilderness Safaris, both role models for sustainable tourism in Africa, are working together to employ a revolutionary solution: They are translocating rhinos from South Africa to Botswana. It’s no easy task, considering that your typical 4,000-pound rhino doesn’t understand why it needs to move to Botswana. So Thurman and Glowczewska went on an eight-day South Africa-Botswana mission to rescue rhinos—and their story makes for a must-read adventure.
Not only can you read about the trip, you can actually take it. Cherri Briggs of Explore Inc., one of my Trusted Travel Experts for African safaris, orchestrated Thurman’s trip and has created a similar adrenaline-fueled eight-day itinerary so that those of you with a deep interest in wildlife protection can become part of the most dramatic conservation story of the 21st century.
Briggs has arranged conservation-minded, even life-changing, safaris for the past 20 years. As for Wilderness Safaris, check out its integrated annual reports to see how they measure and report on the 4 Cs (commerce, conservation, community, and culture) that are embedded in their business model. A lot of travel companies talk a good game about sustainability; few volunteer to share publicly an annual report that details their sustainability goals and measures their progress toward achieving them.
So you’re in the best of hands with this safari of a lifetime. The price tag is monumental but designed to raise funds for the cause: $18,655 per person, plus a tax-deductible donation requirement of $25,000 that goes to Rhino Conservation Botswana. Participants will help save critically endangered wildlife, have a purposeful and meaningful vacation (the best kind), and return home knowing they’ve made a difference. To book the trip, reach out to Cherri Briggs.