Tintswalo Lapalala launches conservation participation experiencesSubmitted by JANIE VAN DER SPUY
Tintswalo Lapalala has launched two conservation participation experiences that offer guests the unique opportunity to join the Lapalala conservation team in rhino and elephant research and monitoring activities in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo Province).
Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve is committed to ensuring the survival of Africa’s rhinos and in doing so, applies best practice research, management and monitoring of these magnificent animals. As part of these management programmes, the reserve conservation and veterinary teams are in the process of implementing various monitoring methods which include, ear-notching, DNA sampling, as well as the inserting of microchips on each animal.
Guests are invited to participate in one of these Rhino Experiences that will take place on four specific dates throughout 2021 (May 7-9; June 18-20; July 16-18; August 20-22). The veterinary team will dart and immobilize a white or black rhino and participants may assist with monitoring the animal during the capture. The DNA collection forms part of the Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhODIS), which is a forensic tool that stores a unique genetic fingerprint for every rhino that has been sampled using blood, tissue and horn. It also plays an important part in Lapalala’s rhino security initiative and its fight against poaching as DNA data may be used as evidence in court.
The Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is located within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the past 40 years the reserve has become a beacon for wildlife research and conservation in South Africa. Recognised as one of the largest and most scenic private reserves in southern Africa, its abundance of flora plays home to a vast array of wildlife that is protected within its 48 500 hectares. This includes 300 bird species, 50 fish species, 147 mammal species, 114 reptile species, 33 amphibian species and various breeding projects. Eco-friendly Tintswalo Lapalala is operated off the grid to accommodate only 16 adults and four children, and as one of only two lodges within the reserve, it guarantees a rare, and personalised wilderness experience.
Guests may also have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the giants of the bush during an Elephant Collaring operation. The 27 elephants within the reserve are carefully monitored as part of the sustainable management of the population. From time to time, as an elephant collar needs to be replaced, a small group of guests have the chance to join this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Guided by an experienced ranger, the group is driven in an open 4x4 safari to meet up with the helicopter used to locate and dart the elephant. Guests may assist the veterinary team in monitoring the elephant’s vital signs, such as breathing rate and temperature. DNA samples are collected while the elephant’s collar is replaced, before the tranquiliser wears off and the elephant is free to join its herd again.
Based on the minimum requirement of eight participants, the cost of the Conservation Experiences is R16 000 for two people, to be added to the accommodation costs of a minimum stay of 3 nights. (Subject to availability. Dates of Elephant Experiences depend on the reserve conservation schedule).
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