Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Mario Gabusi: bottle feeding a baby rhino

Mario Gabusi

🇺🇸 United States

Length of Trip
28 Nights

Project Year

My name is Mario Gabusi and as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be part of something that was bigger than just myself, to make a genuine difference to the world that I live in. I decided to try and make my dream a reality and I started an intense research project that ended up taking me a year to complete. I found 100’s of things that sounded amazing to do, but one website stuck out more than all the others, this was the African Conservation Experience website. Of all the amazing projects on the website, there was one that I kept coming back to time and again, this was the Care for Wild rhino project.

After much deliberation, I took the plunge and made contact with ACE, who were super friendly and supportive. They seemed to know how I felt and how important this dream was to me. Before I knew it I had filled out the paperwork and had a few really helpful phone calls. What had seemed like a mountain to climb turned out to be so easy. Once I had booked my trip all I had to do was wait for my departure date.

I’ve been back four times and each time my experience has been unique and exceeded all my expectations.

The day finally arrived and before I knew it I had landed in Johannesburg. I was met by the ACE ground team who much to my relief were waiting exactly where they said they would be. After they fed me and gave me a thought-provoking and inspirational introductory talk I boarded a shuttle to Nelspruit which is the closest town to the rhino sanctuary.

Driving into the reserve that surrounds Care for Wild I was amazed at the wild beauty of the landscape. I remember how my heart literally took wings when I saw my first ever real live baby rhino. In the beginning, the work was difficult, it takes a lot of work to look after rhinos. Things seldom go according to plan with rhinos so you have to be prepared to work on what I call rhino time.

During my placements at Care for Wild I’ve been a part of many great, uplifting and sad moments. I’ve forged bonds with the entire staff and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Leave your ego at the door, be a team player and above all focus on the rhinos. I’ve been back four times and each time my experience has been unique and exceeded all my expectations. The hardest part of the experience for me is leaving.