Claudia Hinz, the prize winner of a competition recently held at the Wuppertal Zoo in Germany, had the privilege of visiting the Kruger National Park (KNP) in September.
The competition raised funds that, via the Southern African Wildlife Conservation Fund (SAWCoF), support the K9 unit in the KNP in its quest against rhino poaching.
On their way from Johannesburg Hinz and Petra Prossinger saw rhinos for the first time when they stopped at a popular halfway station and were also lucky enough to encounter a leopard soon after entering the park through Phabeni Gate.
The women were accompanied by Volkmar Seifert, local chairman of the SAWCoF.
During their stay at Mopani Camp they were treated to lion sightings as well as a visiting genet and honey badger. For the visitors from the northern hemisphere, it was also a special experience to say they had crossed the southern tropic.
On their way back to Skukuza, they visited Wupper, an anti-poaching dog previously donated to the park with funds raised at the Wuppertal Zoo.
At Skukuza, KNP chief ranger Nicholus Funda took them on an informative visit to the airport and Mission Area Joint Operation Centre (MAJOC), where he explained some of the challenges of anti-poaching operations to them.
A highlight of their visit was being entertained by members of the Honorary Rangers at the K9 Unit and going for a walk in the bush with some of the dogs.
After a final game drive, where they eventually saw rhinos in the wild too, it was time to go back to Johannesburg and Germany.
Earlier this year the dogs Wupper and Tal were bought with donations from the Wuppertal Zoo. The money was raised when the widow of Udo Scheer, a longstanding member of the Zoo Society, died and his widow asked for donations instead of flowers.