SEROWE – The Khama Rhino Sanctuary, which was set up in 1992 to facilitate re-introduction of the white and black rhinos in Botswana is doing well.
The sanctuary started of with four white rhinos and now has 30 white rhinos and four black ones.
Mr Moremi Tjibae, the chief warden and manager of the game farm, said last year that two white rhino calves were born at the sanctuary.
In 2007, one black rhino calf was born after the introduction of a male black rhino.
He stated that the sanctuarys carrying capacity for white rhinos was 30 while black rhinos was four.
When the number of rhinos exceed the sanctuarys rhino carrying capacity, we either sell them to other game farms or relocate them into the wild, he said, explaining that last year they sold four white rhinos at P125 000 each to Oxbow company.
We usually prefer to relocate or sell them to other game farms because we know that they are safe there because they are protected and there are regular patrols by officers unlike in the wild where they are exposed to danger arising from possible attacks by the poachers because they are not closely guarded, he said.
This also goes for other animals, for instance, last year we sold 60 Zebras at P1 700 and 60 wilderbeasts at P550 each to other game farms after they were found to exceed the sanctuarys carrying capacity of 75 for each of the species, he said.
He noted that the funds accumulated either from the sales of the animals or from people visiting the sanctuary was used to develop the sanctuary, pay staff and initiating developments for Paje, Mabeleapodi, Tshimoyapula and Serowe communities.
This game farm is currently doing well in that when it was initially set up, we used to depend on donors and the government to keep the place up and running and now the sanctuary is independent in that we raise revenue to develop the sanctuary and to keep it going, he said.
He explained that the sanctuary started of with 21 staff members, but the current number stood at 44.
We have an annual turn-over of over P3 million and this is due to the fact that the number of visitors to the place on an annual basis has increased over the years especially expatriates. However, we still urge Batswana to also visit the place as this is a Botswana initiative where funds raised from the project are used for community development, he added.
Mr Tjibae also stated that the sanctuary developed immensely over the years. It now boasts of chalets, a restaurant with a cocktail bar, an environmental education centre and a number of campsites.
He also said the sanctuary provided prime habitat for over 30 other species besides the rhino and over 230 birds species.
We have the giraffe, eland, gemsbok, hart beast, springbok, impala, water buck and kudus among others, he said adding that carnivores such as the cheetah, hyena, jackals and leopards also made the sanctuary their home.
Mr Tjibae stated that the sanctuary was on the verge of being expanded as they have been given 4200 hectares west of the game farm.
He said with the additional land, the sanctuary would cover an area of 8 500 hectares.
When we are done with fencing the area, the sanctuary will have a carrying capacity of 70 white rhinos and 12 black rhinos while the carrying capacity for other species will also increase, he said.
This will mean that once we have put up the fence, we will not trans locate the animals that we currently have in the park so that they can breed and increase in terms of population, he said.
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is located along the main road between Serowe and Orapa, approximately 25 km from Serowe.BOPA