Sundowners on safari is always an enjoyable occasion. Add some special rhino guests to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an incredibly memorable sundowner experience.
Sundowners with the rhinos; this is what the guests at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes often find themselves being treated to, and one that I was fortunate enough to experience during my stay at Ants.
After a long and hot afternoon of some seriously up close and personal experiences with the rhino population in the reserve, some ice-cold drinks were definitely in order. Arriving at the home of Ant and Tessa, owners of the Ant Collection, a spread of delicious and freshly cooked finger food was waiting for us next to the pool. As we tucked into the snacks, our attention was quietly directed towards a group of approaching rhinos. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere, all of a sudden there were rhinos everywhere. Watching from the safety of the raised deck area, I took great delight in attempting to recognize the rhinos from the various differences that Ant had pointed out to me earlier in the day.
Once all the rhinos had arrived, the real spectacle began as the Lucerne and feed was divvied up among the feeding stations, making sure that each rhino got their fair share.
Throughout this whole experience, despite the thrill of being so close to these majestic animals, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the nagging feeling at the back of my brain that something about this was just wasn’t quite right. After all, rhinos are wild animals, surely feeding them habituates them to humans? Curiously, I asked Tess how guests generally react to the rhino sundowners and Tess admitted that there has been some concern raised by guests, however they still strongly believe in the practice. After hearing their reasoning why, I couldn’t help but agree. Of course, in an ideal world the rhinos wouldn’t need to be fed or protected at all, however that’s not the reality we live in as these innocent animals continue to be targeted relentlessly by poachers.
Here’s why the Ant Collection does sundowners with their rhinos:
Putting aside the obvious reasons of drought relief and supplement feeding, Ant and Tessa have very specific reasons for letting their guests get so close to their rhinos. Simply put, after an experience like that, you can’t help but fall in love with these animals. These rhinos are like children to Ant and Tessa; each of them has their own name and unique personality and once you’ve been exposed to that, there’s really no going back. It’s an opportunity for guests to be educated on the poaching situation, while at the same time, taking personal responsibility for the rhinos.
Ant and Tessa will do anything to protect their rhinos, however, this protection comes at a great personal expense. After a devastating poaching attack in 2012, Ant and Tessa, together with Victoria Crake and Gustav Collins, founded the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation in an effort to fight rhino poaching in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The Waterberg is home to the second largest concentration of rhino in South Africa outside of the Kruger National Park. Its population is vital to the survival of the species and it is therefore critical that these rhinos are protected. The Save the Waterberg Rhino is at the forefront of trying to save this last frontier for the rhino. Its main objective is fundraising in order to achieve their mission, and other aims of increasing security, creating awareness, supporting education and facilitating training and employment.
At the moment, guests who visit Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes are playing a huge role in keeping this foundation going. After personally meeting these rhinos, many of the guests often want to get involved in the fight. Whether it be donations, or valuable skills and resources, the Waterberg Rhino Foundation needs all the help it can get.
Find out more about the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation and how you can get involved here: http://waterberg.net/save-the-waterberg-rhino/
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