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Opinion & Comment

Why tracking black rhino on foot in Kenya is key to their survival

Riccardo Orizio, chief excutive, Saruni Samburu

Imagine a wildlife reserve in the Big North of Kenya. Picture some of the most inspiring landscapes you can imagine, 350,000 hectares large – more than Malta, Andorra, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg put together. Inside it, imagine a fenced sanctuary of 54,000 hectares, larger than the Isle of Man and with one of the longest electrical fences ever built in East Africa. In addition to the great African fauna, now picture 11 black rhinos – big, unpredictable, beautiful and happy to be in such an amazing wilderness, protected by security teams that make this place one of the better surveyed corners of the continent. This is Sera Conservancy, the community-

owned reserve where we have just opened Saruni Rhino, probably the smallest safari

property in Kenya with only two rooms – but already a record-breaker. It is the first time that indigenous black rhino are back in northern Kenya, after an absence of 30 years. It is the first time that a community (made of proud and picturesque Samburu warriors and herdsmen) owns and manages a black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – other rhino sanctuaries are owned and managed by trusts or private companies. It is also the first time rhino tracking is being offered in Kenya (it is available only in Namibia and South Africa) and it is also one of the first “good news” stories about rhino after years of doom and gloom, with the headlines dominated by poaching, loss of individuals, loss of territories, loss of hope. The start has been amazing. Not only have the rhino sightings been exceptional, but the magical atmosphere of the place has already made it a small sensation in the Kenyan tourism industry. The birding is superb too, the Samburu’s “special five” (reticulated giraffe, Grevy zebra, Beisa oryx, gerenuk and Somali ostrich) are abundant and the waterhole in front of the camp provides some of the most incredible elephant watching. But, above all, it is a victory for community-based conservation. The organisation behind this extraordinary

story is the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT), which is a model of how to support community conservancies. By providing them with income

Can discovering your true DNA change how you travel? This woman thinks so

that travel can bring to us as individuals and as communities. Yet in these uncertain times, we are aware also increasingly of the things that divide and separate us, and this goes against our basic need to seek commonality and acceptance in almost all of our pursuits as individuals. But we believe, and hope, that this creates a

Rebecca Fielding, founder, DNA/Travel Unwrapped

When a daydream becomes a travel plan, it is always an exciting moment. As travel advisers, we have the privilege of inspiring our clients, guiding them and listening to what they want to feel and experience from their next trip. Indeed, creating the most personal journey at the luxury end of the market has become an art. There is a cultural imperative in how and where we travel – a higher purpose and benefit

new reason to travel, to connect with the world more meaningfully, discover the diversity we are a part of and become truly global citizens. It is perhaps part of our job as travel professionals to become ambassadors for global connections. At Travel Unwrapped, we look at ways to

create highly personalised experiences and feel that the trend in DNA testing – exploring our family trees, for example – has opened an interesting niche. We now create a travel experience based on people’s geographical origins, first testing their DNA and then creating journeys for them to visit the places it tells us they are actually from. This has produced something quite special and we see people being profoundly changed by this experience.


from tourism, it increases – as never before – the area of land available to wildlife, thereby also providing security and peace to neighbouring tribes. Sera is one of the many conservancies under the NRT umbrella and, with its rhinos, now one of its most important. The plan is simple: rhino will reproduce and

multiply, Saruni will provide good income to the Samburu, the warriors will feel they have moral and legal ownership of this project and will protect it. Meanwhile, guests will love it and support it, feeling that they are not only tourists but conservationists as the “park fees” they pay make them feel they are key contributors to the rhino project’s success. This is already happening and we are committed to it for the long term. It creates a uniquely personal licence to see

the world in a new way. People are visiting new places and going back to places they love, but with a new perspective. A focus on living and eating like locals and finding a more intimate connection with a destination is a consequence of this one-of-a-kind journey. We know that we are as diverse and individual as the world around us – and exploring that world with new insight into our own diversity offers a highly personalised journey, creating a deeper connection between people of different cultures. I feel something extraordinary is happening in the industry – for the first time we have the chance to be advocates for peace through authentic journeys and experiences. I subscribe to the belief that travel is the

biggest threat to prejudice (Mark Twain) and cultivating understanding among people is arguably the only chance we have to improve tolerance. There is great worth in a conversation among thought leaders, innovators and the public about how our diversity should be used as a tool to unite us rather than divide us.

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