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Ranger Dale, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.

Ranger Dale, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.

Growing up on the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) coast, my love for wildlife and spending time in the great outdoors took seed from many holidays spent exploring the gorges in the majestic Drakensberg mountains, looking for black and white rhinos in the Umfolozi / Hluhluwe Game Reserves further north up the KZN coast and seeking out the rare Palmnut Vulture in Mtunzini Forest.

However, I did not at first pursue a career as a field ranger but spent many years working in the corporate world. Eventually I decided to trade in the rat-race. I enrolled in a Field Ranger course, packed up and sold house and headed off into the great unknown. Since then, I have not looked back.

After finishing my Ranger training, which was spent mostly in northern and western Kruger National Park area (e.g. Makuleke), Botswana (Tuli Block) and Zululand in northern KZN, I spent time guiding at Tswalu Game Reserve in the southern or ‘green’ Kalahari. I fell in love with the wild landscapes, endless horizons and sense of tranquillity that you get when spending time in nature. Sanbona offers the same experience but because it lies in a transition zone of 3 different biomes, Succulent Karoo, Thicket and Fynbos, it is even more fascinating. The plant and animal adaptations to the dry semi-desert conditions and extremes of temperature e.g. -4 degrees Celsius at times in winter to 45 degrees Celsius in the peak of summer, showcase the ingenuity of nature when faced with having to survive in such a harsh environment.

Almost every day there is something unique and fascinating to discover and appreciate, from seeing 3 ton elephants traversing a high mountain ridge to watching a 7g Cape Penduline Tit building its nest from the cotton-like seeds of the Wild Rosemary bush. However, this incredible natural heritage is under threat. The world is obsessed with making lots of money and buying lots of things and along the way, nature is damaged and destroyed, sometimes irrevocably.

It is our duty as field rangers to show and educate people about the beauty and intelligence in nature and why it is so important to conserve it. Not only do our fellow animals depend on the natural environment to live, so do we. At Sanbona, we play a small part in this role by enabling people to come and experience, learn and hopefully ignite a love for this beautiful spot in the Klein Karoo and do whatever we can to conserve and save this little piece of heaven on earth.



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