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rhino conservation

rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Sundowners with the Rhinos

By Conservation & Community, Rhinos, The Ant's Experience
[:en]Written by Claire Birtwhistle, a guest at Ant’s Hill

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 Hill.

Rhino sundowners at Ant's Nest

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 Baber, owner 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.

rhinos being fed at Ant's Nest

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.

rhino conservation in waterberg

Here’s why the Ant Collection does sundowners with their rhinos:
Putting aside the obvious reasons of drought relief and supplement feeding, the team at Ants has 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 the team; 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’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes 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 Baber, 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, facilitate 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 they can get.

rhino encounters at Ant's Nest

Find out more about the Save the Waterberg Rhino Foundation and how you can get involved here:[:]

Lending a Helping Hand/Hoof

By Conservation & Community
[:en]“The objective of the Ant Collection is to create sustainable tourism by means of conserving the environment around us, enriching the lives of our guests and staff alike as well as uplifting the community and providing as much skills and development to the locals as possible.” – The Ant Collection

In a developing country such as South Africa, the tourism industry is so important. It is one of the world’s fastest-growing economic sectors and can be used as a great tool for promoting sustainable development and accelerating poverty eradication. Community-minded and always willing to help out when needed, we understand that tourism is directly linked to conservation and community development, and embraces that responsibility wholeheartedly.

Here are 3 of the many ongoing projects that Ants is currently involved with:

Save the Waterberg Rhino

Ant and Tessa Baber founded the Save the Waterberg Rhino foundation in 2012. The foundation aims to raise funds to protect rhinos on privately owned land within the Waterberg Biosphere area. Soon after it was founded, Save the Waterberg Rhino teamed up with The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and to help private landowners safeguard rhinos from poachers. A team of respected members of the community, rhino owners, rhino specialists, and security experts help to manage the Save the Waterberg Rhino foundation.

African Community Outreach

We are active supporters of the African Community Outreach non-profit organisation. The project supports hundreds of poverty-stricken families, widows, and orphans in the Vaalwater area by visiting with them in their homes, providing food, medical care and assisting children in getting into schools. African Community Outreach relies on donations from the general public, businesses, and the commercial sector for funding. It costs R20 per day to feed a child and guests at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill often donate generously towards this worthy cause.

Community Support and Upliftment

We also work in partnership with the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve on the YES Project (Youth Environmental Services). This provides unemployed youths from the area with training and skills to get back into employment. There are four training projects; wildlife security, chef training, housekeeping and nature guiding. Ants offers placements for all of the above and the majority of the staff are employed from the local community.

It seems safe to say that when you’re staying with us; your conscience can rest at ease![:]