10 of the World's Rarest Wildlife Encounters

Photo by andreaskrappweis/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Richard Madden, The Telegraph, May 18, 2018

To mark Endangered Species Day, Richard Madden suggests 10 responsible ways to spot animals under threat. 

Amur tigers in Russia

Russia’s Durminskoye Reserve is prime habitat for the last remaining Siberian amur tigers. The chance of seeing these tigers is real, albeit slim, but on this unique trip with Natural World Safaris you will explore the reserve by foot, skidoo and four-wheel drive while setting up camera traps to record footage of them. You will also spend time with Alexander Batalov, who has spent 20 years protecting the Siberian tiger.

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From £3,775 per person for seven days excluding international flights. Departure dates by request (01273 691642; naturalworldsafaris.com).

Whales in the Azores

This whale, dolphin and turtle study trip with Biosphere Expeditions will take you to the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. As part of a small team, you will help photograph endangered blue and sei whales and make recordings of their vocalisations while studying migration patterns. You’ll be working from a catamaran research boat by day and staying in a converted manor house at night. 

 From £1,578 per person for 10 days excluding flights. Departs March 29 and April 9 2019 (0870 446 0801; biosphere-expeditions.org).

Snow leopards in India

snow leopard India

Photo by wrangel/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images    

The snow leopard is one of the world’s rarest and most beautiful cats and seeing one in the wild ranks among the most unforgettable wildlife experiences. Local trackers guide this adventurous expedition in the mountains of Hemis National Park in Ladakh, northern India. Although this is one of Naturetrek’s more physically demanding trips, with guests staying in local housing and camping, the rewards of the spectacular mountain scenery and a chance of seeing this high-altitude predator are immense. 

From £2,995 per person including flights. Departs Feb 14 2019 (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk).

Rhinos in Namibia

Combine stays at two of Namibia’s most important conservation-focused camps – Desert Rhino Camp (Save the Rhino Trust) and Okonjima (AfriCat Foundation) – with luxury safari operator The Ultimate Travel Company. At Desert Rhino Camp you will be tracking the critically endangered black rhino on foot and at AfriCat working with orphaned cheetahs and leopards that are being rehabilitated for life in the wild. At both camps guests contribute to the work of the respective charities. Responsible tourism is one of the key weapons in the battle against poaching as local communities benefit and more money can be spent on conservation.

From £4,900 per person for eight days including flights. The best time to travel is between May and November (020 3553 2024; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk).

The 18 species on the World Wildlife Fund's critically endangered list 

Turtles in the Bahamas 

Help save the critically endangered hawksbill turtle on a citizen science project in the Bahamas with Earthwatch. The hawksbill and green sea turtle are in trouble and researchers need to ensure their habitats are protected from coastal development and climate change. Help scientists find out the exact location of their most important habitats by snorkelling in the clear coastal waters, mangrove creeks, sea grass beds and coral reefs.

From £2,150 per person for nine days excluding flights. Departs July 5, July 21, Aug 11 and Sept 1 (01865 318838; earthwatch.org).

Orang-utans in Sumatra

Explore Sumatra’s Gunung Leuser National Park on a challenging six-day overnight trekking adventure through rainforest jungle that is home to several critically endangered species including the Sumatran orang-utan, tiger, rhinoceros and elephant. Expedition Jungle Tours is a local operator with specialist knowledge of the region. Along the way you will learn key jungle skills such as building fires and camps, finding and cooking vegetables, fishing for dinner and preparing jungle medicine.

From £470 per person for nine days excluding flights. Departs July 21, Aug 18, Sept 22, Oct 20, Nov 17 and Dec 15 (01643 818308; expeditionjungle.com).

14 amazing wildlife holidays on UK shores 

Gorillas in Uganda

Silverback Gorilla in Congo

Photo by stockbymh/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images    

Track critically endangered mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable rainforest, a Unesco World Heritage site that helps protect around 320 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the population left in the wild. The trek length varies from 30 minutes to seven hours and you will spend an hour with the animals. Travellocal.com creates and books tailor-made holidays with selected local experts around the world.

From £2,860 per person for seven nights, excluding flights. Departures can be tailor-made to suit (0117 325 7898; travellocal.com).

Red pandas in Nepal

Embark on a 10-day trek in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, led by experienced local guides, tracking the endangered red panda – one of the world’s shyest, most elusive and exotic species. Destruction of the animals’ habitat has led to a sharp rise in the number of conservation projects but also in opportunities for sustainable tourism. Your trip with Responsible Travel will contribute to the vital conservation work being done by the Red Panda Network. 

From £2,395 per person for the 10-day trek excluding international flights. The best red panda sightings are in spring and autumn (01237 823700; responsibletravel.com).

Sumatran rhinos in Borneo

Join explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison on a Steppes Travel expedition to Borneo’s Maliau Basin (aka Sabah’s Lost World) in pursuit of the world’s smallest rhinoceros, the Sumatran rhino. Covered in hair, it is more closely related to the extinct woolly rhino than to any species alive today but poaching and habitat destruction have driven it to the brink of extinction. The basin is a land of immense, vine-clad jungles and ancient giant trees, home to an amazing biodiversity of wildlife. 

From £5,795 per person for the 11-day itinerary including international flights. Departs June 4 (01285 601050; steppestravel.com).

The 50 greatest wildlife holidays on Earth 

Sunda clouded leopards in Malaysia

Take part in Wildlife Worldwide’s first rare-mammal expedition to Borneo. Species include the critically endangered orang-utan, the Asian elephant, the Malay sun bear and the Sunda clouded leopard. In Sepilok you’ll visit an orang-utan rehabilitation centre before travelling to the Kinabatangan river in search of proboscis monkeys and silvery langur. On night drives you will have a rare chance to track the Sunda clouded leopard in Deramakot Forest Reserve.

From £2,995 per person for 14 nights including flights. Departs May 8, June 7, Aug 3 and Sept 29 2019 (01962 302086; wildlifeworldwide.com).


This article was written by Richard Madden from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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