My friend Solly
There is nothing more rewarding in the bush then tracking down ‘your own animal’. The thrill of chase…the ultimate hind and seek. Even if you don’t find the animal, the excitement of searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack is the essence of raw joy! The trackers at Londolozi are superb and this ‘needle’ is often uncovered. We are treated to spectacular sightings and it is thanks to the trackers that you leave here with poster size images of wildlife at it’s best. But there is so much more to the tracker – ranger relationship…
Solly Mhlongo and I have been working together for roughly a year and a half. I consider myself to be exceptionally lucky to be paired with a true gentleman who is so dedicated to his job. I find it wonderful that a friendship has developed between us; coming from completely different social backgrounds and at different phases of our lives yet somehow it works. We spend a good 8 hours a day together both on foot and in the vehicle trying to find animals and keep our guests informed and entertained. In the process we have become cemented to each other…we share each other’s highs and lows! We are a team.
Those who have driven with Solly and me will know what I mean when I say that our understanding of each other far surpasses the verbal. We have entire conversations without words. Subtle gestures, hand signals and body language are used instead. We even have a series of different whistles so that we can communicate across the bush whilst tracking on foot! We understand that through silence the bush is able to speak to us.
The reality is, is that Solly makes my job an absolute pleasure. He is so very willing to go the extra mile and always does so with a smile on his face. And beyond the guest realm I know that as a person he is there for me…out in the bush his huge amount of experience means the world. He is an overseeing eye, my protector, my mentor, my teacher, my confidant but most importantly my friend.
Throughout the past year I have been able to bring you incredible images and footage of animals in the wild. Whilst I am the one who takes the photos and writes the pieces it is Solly who by and large finds these animals in the first place. For this I want to say thank you to a very special man.
This relationship is not unique to Solly and myself. Over the past two decadesr Alex van den Heever and Renias Mhlongo have also developed an incredible bond as a ranger- tracker team and the pioneers of the Tracking Academy. You can find out more about their presentation ‘The Power of Relationships‘ by clicking on the link.
Written by Adam Bannister