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A roadtrip with a difference with #first4Rhino

by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold on 02.08.2017

Some of my favourite memories are of travelling to Mpumalanga every winter for the July school holidays to visit our grandparents who lived in White River. As we left the snowcapped mountains of the Western Cape behind, the excitement to spend a few glorious days in the bush grew with each kilometer we travelled north.

We were always the first family at the gate, waiting impatiently for it to open so that we could spot our first impala, elephant or lion. There was good money on the first lion spotting, so all four of us kids sat with eyes wide open, barely blinking, scanning the veld for the King of the jungle.

We found two young male lions just after sunrise. They walked over the road calling to each other. 

A #firstforRhino adventure with First Car Rental

The bush is like a soul detox for me. So, when the opportunity came to spend a few days with friends at their property in the Sabie Park, overlooking the Kruger, I jumped at the chance to escape winter in Cape Town with my two bushbaby girls.

I love travelling with my girls and feel it is so important that they broaden their perspective of the world, growing up with a knowledge and deep love for their country and its people.

The bush in winter is magical for children with warm days and cooler evenings. 

We spent four wonderful days cruising around the Kruger in the #first4Rhino Juke, courtesy of First Car Rental and Nissan South Africa, with beautiful sightings of buck, elephant, birds, hyena and lion. We made quite a bold statement in the colourful Juke, but who wants to blend in when you can stand out and make a difference? We were overjoyed when finally, on day four, we found the rhino!

What a privilege to still be able to see the rhino in the wild. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

The plight of the Rhino

As children, we never dreamt there could come a day when we would not be able to see a rhino in the wild. Sadly, that could be a reality unless we all act and become part of the solution.

According to the 2016 Rhino Poaching Statistics it seems that the multi-sector ‘Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros’ (ISMR) approach is yielding good results. There was a 10.3% decline in the number of rhino poached, bringing the total down from 1 175 in 2015 to 1 054 in 2016.

Whilst the number of rhino poached in the Kruger declined by 19.85% (from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016) there was a sharp increase (16.9%) in illegal incursions into the Kruger National Park, such as poaching camps, contacts, crossings, sightings, tracks and shots fired.

Anti-poaching operations have made some impact with more than 680 poachers and traffickers arrested for rhino-related poaching offences in 2016. This is more than double the number of arrests in the previous year. 

A lot more must and can be done. We all need to get involved, raise awareness and play a part in protecting our natural environment and endangered animals like the rhino. Otherwise, my children’s chidren will never have the privilege of driving through the Kruger and spotting a rhino.

Up close with an elephant in the Kruger. She was huge, old and her body told stories of a few battles for survival. Photo by Abri Kruger.

It's Now or Never, and you are the solution.

For the past few years, First Car Rental has invested in Rhino initiatives around the country. They get why we need to act now if we want future generations to enjoy the kind of experience I had with my girls in the Kruger.

The #First4Rhino campaign supports the Now Or Never African Wildlife Trust entrusted with helping to save the rhino. They have one mission - Save Them All.

They rescue elephant and rhino orphans, rehabilitate them in orphanages and release them where they belong – back in the wild. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to raise awareness of the plight of the near-extinct Black and White Rhino.

The Bateleur is my favourite bird of prey. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

Help Save the Rhino and you could WIN a R30 000 holiday

Spot the #first4Rhino vehicle, 'Facebook Live' in front of it and in less than 30 seconds, tell your followers why the mission to save rhino is important to you! Tag @FirstCarRental #First4Rhino (so we receive your video) and in return for your video, they will donate R20 to the Now or Never African Wildlife Trust.

Not only does your video upload help spread the message and raise awareness, it is also an automatic entry into the #First4Rhino Holiday Competition where they are giving away TWO holidays valued at R30 000 each.

  • 1st Prize for the best video
  • Lucky draw from all videos submitted

The prize is seven nights, out-of-season accommodation for two people sharing a self-catering studio unit /1-bedroom unit from Anytime Holidays, with return flights for two from FlySafair, and 8-days car hire from First Car Rental.

Now that sounds like a good deal to me. I certainly can do with another road trip with First Car Rental.

For more information on the competition, click here

We loved cruising the Kruger with First Car Rental. Thank you to the team for your excellent service and warm welcome. 

We would like to thank Abri Kruger for the photographs. He is a talented photographer based in Somerset West, South Africa, and has recently launched a photographic safari company. Contact him for wedding, family and holiday photography or to arrange your next safari. 

Here are a few more of Abri's photos taken during our visit to the Kruger National Park. 

Golden hour in the Kruger. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

Catching a ride. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

The Southern Ground Hornbill is one of the most endangered birds in the Kruger. They have a slow reproductive rate producing only one chick approximately every nine years. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

There's always time for a dust bath in the Kruger. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

My favourite cat and the fastest land animal in the world, the Cheetah. Photo by Abri Kruger. 

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