“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions” – Karen Blixen.
Today is World Rangers Day, a day especially dedicated to honouring the men and women who work tirelessly to protect our parks, reserves and wildlife. Many rangers have difficult and dangerous jobs that see them fighting to save threatened wildlife species in the poaching onslaught that continues to raise its ugly head with increasing alarm.
This day is not only to honour our wonderful rangers, past and present, but also to thank our trackers. It is thanks to the efforts of these teams that we get to witness incredible sightings and it is their knowledge that enriches our experience. A safari is not the same without their guidance. At Londolozi we are fortunate to have a dedicated team who set out at first light and return after dark to bring you closer to the untamed bush.
These are Londolozi’s conservation heroes and we salute each and every one of you.
The 2014 Londolozi Ranger and Tracker Team. Photograph by Elsa Young.
Two of our female rangers seen in the front. From left: Talley Smith and Jessica Boon. Photograph by Elsa Young.
The 2013 Training Team have become an integral part of the rangers team.
Mike Sutherland is never far from his camera. You’ll recognise Mike from his many beautiful photographs showcased on the Londolozi blog.
Kate Imrie is Head Ranger at Londolozi, the woman behind the management of the rangers team. Photograph by Elsa Young.
Richard Ferrier and his guests.
Daniel Buys plans to check an area as the sun sets. Photograph by Mike Sutherland
Game Ranger, photographer extraordinaire, writer and campfire singer – the one and only James Tyrrell.
Simon Smit sits up to enjoy a herd of buffalo drinking at the end of another dry winters day. Photograph by Mark Nisbet
Ranger Greg Pingo, Tracker Andrea Sithole and guests await the emergence of a pack of wild dogs from out of the mist and dust.
Three of Londolozi’s most senior trackers, from left; Judas Ngomane, Richard Siwela (head tracker) and Jeremiah Hambana. These masters of the bush combine over 100 years tracking experience between them. Photograph by Elsa Young.
After following the tracks of a female leopard and her cub through the Summer bush, Mike Sithole eventually spotted the two high on a fallen marula tree in the distance. One can clearly see how excited Mike and James are at the discovery, as they rush back to the vehicle to take the guest in to see the leopards. Photographed by Kym Illman
Tom Imrie won the 2013 Safari Guide of the Year competition making his Londolozi family very proud.
Ranger Josh Lee and his guests enjoy a close-up sighting of the Tsala Pride. Photograph by Gary Tankard.
Londolozi Tracker, Life Sibuye, on a cold winter’s morning. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.
Mark Nisbet and his guests enjoy a spectacular winter sunset. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.
James Tyrrell and Peter Fleck are in the final stages of preparing for a 250 km run across Madagascar to raise funds for the Good Work Foundation. We are immensely proud of all the training they have done and Londolozi has proved to be ideal training grounds!
Ranger Don Heyneke looks on with Sean Cresswell seen in the background. Photograph by Mike Sutherland.
We could never tire of misty winter mornings like this.
Bennet Mthonsi in his trademark hat!
Rangers Sean Cresswell, Don Heyneke and Mike Sutherland discuss their sightings of the day around a glowing campfire.
Tracker Mike Sithole gets ready for an afternoon game drive.
Sandros Sihlangu and his guests enjoy a cheetah sighting.
The Power Team: Renias Mhlongo and Alex Van Den Heever.
The men behind the sightings, two of Londolozi’s trackers, Richard and Freddy, take a rest after tracking the Tamboti female and her cub.
Talley Smith has spent many years in the bush doing what she loves most.
A photograph from the ‘archives’ – the ranging team of 2011.
Londolozi Ranger Alfred who is also known affectionately known as ‘Alfie’
Another from the archives: Londolozi Ranger James Hobson leads his guests on a bush walk.
Rex Miller, a ranger who used to work with us at Londolozi, still visits us regularly as a freelance guide.
Many of you will recognise the face of well-known tracker Elmon Mhlongo.
Lucien Beaumont and the Tamboti female.
Chris Kane-Berman perfectly framed in this photograph by the stilt-like legs of a giraffe.
We couldn’t possibly include every single ranger and tracker in our blog post today but we would like to thank you all.
Happy World Ranger Day!
Written by: Kate Collins
Photographs supplied by: Londolozi Rangers.