In Depth

Saruni Rhino: Walking with giants

A new safari lodge is the first in East Africa to let guests track rare black rhinos on foot

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The luxury safari company Saruni is inviting intrepid safari enthusiasts to track the black rhino, one of the world's rarest animals – on foot.

Pedestrian game-viewings are growing in popularity in southern Africa, but the Saruni Rhino camp is the first to offer the experience in Kenya.

It promises to be an exclusive affair: at its launch next month, it will consist of just two open-sided cottages, each sleeping four to six people. Elegant and in keeping with the landscape, they overlook a waterhole frequented by zebras, oryxes, giraffes and ostriches.

The rhinos, however, are the real attraction. "Local guides use traditional techniques and electronic transmitters to help intrepid safari-goers get close to these incredible creatures," says CNN, which named Saruni Rhino one of the best new luxury safaris for 2017.

Once plentiful across sub-Saharan Africa, the black rhino was hunted to extinction in many countries during the first half of the 20th century. Populations fell to 70,000 by 1970, according to the WWF, and in 1993 only 2,475 survived in the wild. Now numbers are back above 5,000, but the species is still on the critically endangered list.

"Successes in black rhino conservation over recent years are heartening," says the conservation group, "but a lot of work remains to be done to counter the current poaching crisis."

The Saruni Rhino lodge is set within the Sera Community Conservancy, an 860,000-acre reserve managed by members of the Samburu people, whose roots lie in the region. 

Its goal is to help people, rhinos and other animals live side by side, says Kenya's Daily Nation. "The formation and management of the conservancies ultimately aims to facilitate rangeland regeneration, sustainable community development and in turn an opportunity for wildlife to thrive," the paper reports.

Saruni Rhino, from $630 (£520) per person per night, plus $175 (£145) per person park fees. A two-night minimum stay applies.

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