There is a special relationship that forms between two people when we do this job each day. It is one that we are aware of, humbled by and fully engaged in. It is a friendship, a partnership and a mentorship. This is a two way street and for both people there are many ways to benefit and grow by being together and spending so much time together. This relationship I speak of, is one that is built in the bush, on the vehicle, on foot and in the lodge. It is the bond between a ranger and a tracker and it is a lifelong investment.
I have had the fortunate privilege to have worked with many amazing people in my journey through the bush, especially the trackers I have met and worked together with. Each with their own set of manicured skills and interpretations of the bush. Each with their own anecdotes, tales, terrors and triumphs. Each tracker has his own super power, a sixth sense, which allows competitive advantage against the rest. It is a bond that is earned through complete trust in one another, to me it is sacred and it is life altering.
Life, Khokwana, Majingi’s, DD, Mr Bubbles or General Kwagga. These are some of the many names he is referred to by me and colleagues. Life is the tracker I have had the privilege to work with for almost 18 months now. He has become my best friend and partner in the bush. We have learned from each other and share many amazing experiences together. We have met amazing people, who have influenced our lives and we have grown as people through these experiences. Life has taught me many things in the bush, but not only about bird calls, tracking and trees. He is wise beyond his years and can lift the energy in a room just with a comment or a laugh. The gentle giant, quietly going about his business, but loved by so many.
Life has a particular interest in something that I am very passionate about – photography. He has appeared on the blog before after taking an amazing photograph of the Nottens female ascending a marula tree at dusk. This was documented in a blog named: Life’s Photographic Moments. This is not a new passion that he has picked up, it is one that has grown with him on his journey as a tracker over the past ten years, working with various rangers who all enjoy photography. There are often moments on drive when I see him peering at my camera hoping to take some pictures. He is a true gentleman though, and will sit quietly observing and commenting on the lighting, and that I should change the setting to “Black and White!”
If you have ever been on a game drive with Life you will know his quiet demeanour, his silent confidence and the aura he exudes from the trackers seat. It is one of patience, enthusiasm, charisma and honesty. He is humble to his very core and one of my best friends. So this is a tribute to Life, my friend. And these are some of the photographs he has taken in the past few months. I hope you enjoy them as much as he does!
Wild Eye blog:
Written by: Mike Sutherland
Photographed by: Life Sibuye