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Rhino conservation in action as an African unicorn submits to the sedative before veterinary procedures get under way © Marataba

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Rhino conservation safari, jaw-dropping photographs + the world’s largest antelope

Today I bust a myth and recommend a life-changing safari experience.

One claim I often hear from those who feel we should cull elephants is that they (elephants) destroyed the Chobe riverine forests. This straight-line logic is misleading. Chobe’s riverine forests were decimated by historic logging of hardwoods – especially Rhodesian teak Baikiaea plurijuga – for mine timber, railway sleepers, paper and furniture. If you bought converted railway sleeper furniture, you have played a role, albeit unknowingly. Commercial logging began prior to World War I and continued to 1994. The riverine areas were most hammered because the river was used to transport the wood. The larger lumber mills along the river closed down in the mid-1950’s because most of the large riverine trees had been removed, but smaller-scale harvesting continued. What remains after that devastating period of waste and mismanagement is an irreparably damaged ecosystem that is susceptible to fire and elephants, with recruitment almost impossible due to impalas and other herbivores feasting on saplings. So there you have it. As the linked report states, elephants are now PART of the problem, but they are not the cause, and culling them is unlikely to cure the damaged ecosystem.

My team has unearthed a limited-availability opportunity to be involved in a rhino conservation program in South Africa’s Marataba – a stunning chunk of bushveld in the malaria-free Waterberg. Be warned that being part of a veterinary procedure on Africa’s giant unicorns is an intensely emotional experience. I have shed a few silent tears each time, and cannot recommend the experience enough. This is a genuine conservation program – not some faux clipboard pantomime. Take your family or take your colleagues – just get there. More details here.

Keep the passion

Simon Espley – CEO, Africa Geographic


Have you always wanted to experience the culturally diverse tribes of Ethiopia or perhaps explore the world-famous open savannahs of Hwange? No matter your safari requirements, our passionate travel experts are on hand to offer the best advice.

Ethiopia’s Omo Valley and tribes – 10 days – from US$ 2,740pps
Omo Valley is one of Ethiopia’s most fascinating melting pots of tribal diversity. This ten-day cultural experience offers the unique opportunity to learn about the ancient customs and practices of Ethiopia’s indigenous tribes. Join us and experience the wonders of this extraordinary region and its fascinating people.

Special offer
Take advantage of this ‘stay for 4 & pay for 3’ offer at Camp Hwange – Hwange NP, Zimbabwe – a wildlife haven surrounded by rugged mopane woodland and sandy soil teak forests. Valid until 31 May 2023.
T’s & C’s apply. Contact our travel team at for more info.

From our Scientific Editor – Jamie Paterson

Entries for the AG Photographer of the Year 2023 are now closed, and we are racing towards the nail-biting moment when our judges select their favourite images. As is always the case towards the end of our annual competition, entries have been flooding in, and this week we are treating you to two galleries of magnificent images! I highly recommend taking some time to let the beauty of these pictures sink in – I promise they will brighten your day.

And speaking of brightening the day, our final story of the week details one of my encounters with Mary, the eland of Talek Gate in the Maasai Mara. She became something of a fixture during my time in Kenya and taught me a thing or two about the curious nature of eland. You can read more about Mary (and the world’s largest antelope in general) below.

Finally, I haven’t forgotten to offer up a fact this week. But in light of Simon’s message about our rhino conservation safari, this one feels appropriate. Did you know that the bids for the world’s largest rhino farm auction closed on Monday? There were no viable bids. Apparently, there are still private talks in progress, the results of which are due to be announced at the end of today. The lives of some 2,000 white rhinos – around 8% of the remaining population – hang precariously in the balance. As does the future of private rhino ownership.

Story 1
The first of two galleries featuring our Week 12 selection – the penultimate round of entries have once again delivered some award-worthy celebrations of Africa

Story 2
Feast your eyes upon the second gallery for our Week 12 selection – filled with images guaranteed to lift your hearts and buoy your spirits

Story 3
The eland is the largest antelope on Earth. Somewhat tricky to spot, ticking one off your African safari list is rewarding

Our Mara safari

AG safari client Lex Van Vught recently returned from his stay at Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp in the Mara North Conservancy of the Maasai Mara. Here is what he had to say about his experience:

“Our second stay at the Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp was as excellent as our first, this time not in peak season. We actually now prefer February, as major sightings attracted a maximum of 10 game-viewing vehicles instead of the 50+ we experienced in July/August. The only negative is that there are no wildebeest crossings, but having seen these in the past, we just loved the tranquillity and solitude. Cat sightings were still spectacular and photographic opportunities abounded. We also recorded 161 bird species. As before, the service levels, food and friendliness at the camp made our stay a joy. All arrangements by Africa Geographic were perfect.”

WATCH: Rhino conservation in action – to whet your appetite for the limited-availability safari opportunity Simon describes above (03:28). Click here to watch

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We're an eclectic pack of safari experts, storytellers, admin and tech nerds and digital natives whose sole mission is celebrating Africa and doing good. We do this by creating life-changing, responsible safaris just for you, publishing informative, factual articles about Africa's incredible natural wonders and raising donations for worthy causes. This MANIFESTO explains our approach to travel and conservation.

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