From the Travel Desk: To help rhinos, take a great trip

Dave Ramberg of Maple Grove hopes you go on safari in Kenya.

Not just because locals are kind. “We felt welcomed, even appreciated. We never felt threatened.”

And not only because the animals can stun you with their mystery, grace and nonchalance. One day, a cheetah hopped right up on Ramberg’s safari vehicle.

The main reason he wants you to go? You might help save the endangered black rhinos.

Ramberg traveled to the Maasai Mara, a game reserve in Kenya, with Jim Nystrom. The two went out with their guide twice a day for two weeks, hunting for the so-called “Big 5.” They’d had luck, even seeing a stealthy leopard. The black rhino had eluded them until one day, when they saw safari vehicles massing, a sure sign that an animal is in view.

“A black rhino comes running out across the horizon,” Ramberg said. “I felt so thrilled, so fortunate.”

What he saw a day and a half later was so heart-wrenching, so very unfortunate.

The two Minnesotans and their guide headed in the direction of a rumored rhino poaching to discover that the rumor was true. Very likely the same black rhino that Ramberg described as majestic, beautiful and powerful lay lifeless on the ground, cut open. Its horns and testicles, which had been hacked off, were likely already on an underworld journey to Asia, where such items are believed to hold magical abilities.

“To see it, it took your breath away,” Ramberg said.

You can support organizations that work to safeguard rhinos, such as the Nature Conservancy and our own Minnesota Zoo. But by going to Africa to see one for yourself, you reinforce the notion that live animals enhance the local economy. And you might return home with stories to tell about the importance of conservation, like Ramberg.

 

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