We’re racing along a bumpy dirt road in Somkhanda Game Reserve, South Africa’s only community-owned game reserve that’s home to both black and white rhino. We’re late; the sun has started its rapid descent towards the horizon and our overnight stop is still about forty minutes away, a rhino patrol station set deep in the acacia thickets that overlook Jozini dam.
I’m desperately holding on: one hand clutching a slippery rail, the other keeping precarious hold of my camera. As I glance across to Kati, our Online Editor extraordinaire, all thought of dodging tree branches or the rolling gas cylinder in the back of the bakkie flee my mind, replaced by gleeful disbelief. There she stands, one hand hooked around the rail and the other held up high, clutching her phone with a look of consternation on her face, searching vainly for signal so she can send off a queue of tweets.
Thankfully she had the grace to look guilty, but not before I had fired off a few shots as blackmail material. I can’t blame her really; her job requires being plugged in 24/7, even whilst on assignment where the world of social media could not seem further away. Which was precisely why our editor, Sonya Schoeman, had chosen her for this particular piece.
You see, in an online world of armchair activism against rhino poaching, it’s easy to get jaded and lose touch with what’s happening at grass-roots level. Our mission was to follow in rhino trackers’ freshly-laid footsteps and acquaint ourselves with their anti-poaching efforts, comparing their everyday working lives with our own. After all, as Wildland’s project manager David Gilroy says, “it’s warm bodies that will win this war.”
You can read all about our ‘out of the comfort zone‘ feature in the February 2015 issue of Getaway Magazine.
Read the story about what really goes into protecting our rhinos in the February 2015 issue of Getaway.