During my training and right through to when I qualified as a Londolozi Ranger, a piece of advice that I received numerous times was to ensure that I build a strong relationship with the tracker with whom I was going to work. After all, I would spend numerous hours with them, almost every morning and afternoon out on a game drive, formulating plans with them, hosting guests with them, and at times entrust my life with them.
I was fortunate to get teamed up with Trevor Makukule, someone who some of you might recognise. He has become more than just a partner during our game drives – we have become good friends. We often find ourselves in great conversations over a game of pool at the staff spaza shop, and of course, with any close relationship we have butted heads a number of times but it has only pulled us closer together.
Trevor (or ‘langman’ as he is affectionately known, meaning ‘tall man’ in Afrikaans) is the third born of four in his family. Born, raised, and currently living in Hluvukani, a village situated to the north of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. As with most of the Shangaan people, Trevor is very family orientated and has close bonds with all of his siblings, his parents, aunts, uncles, and greater family. He is incredibly grateful for the opportunities that he has been provided with by virtue of his parents’ hard work and determination and wants to work hard and earn a good living so that one day he too can provide for his family.
Trev took an interesting route to get to where he is today. Tracking wasn’t always his first option (or an option at all really). After gaining his Senior School Matric Certificate in 2012 he completed his risk and safety management as well as basic firefighting and paramedic courses in Pretoria. I asked him why these unique and specific courses, to which he responded:
“I love the thrill of working in potentially dangerous situations, and having to solve problems on the spot whilst keeping my cool.”
After doing a bit more digging I put two and two together and realised that this very thrill that Trevor speaks of is likely what he loves about tracking. I’ve come to learn that he is a very calculated man, never taking unnecessary risks, always calm under pressure, all the while never letting fear get in the way of potential rewards.
It wasn’t long before Trevor realised that the city life wasn’t for him and he returned home, unsure of what path to take next. This was until one of his childhood friends told him about this amazing institution called the Tracker Academy. Trevor was familiar with tracking (well, a form of tracking) and spending time in the bush as he and his dog, Tiger, often used to herd and look after his family’s cattle and goats in the village. He was taken by the idea and was accepted into the course for the following year. Not only did Trevor find his passion, but he excelled and came top of his class. For that reason he was asked to spend a year in Akagera National park, Rwanda with another graduate from the academy in an attempt to track, gather data and habituate leopards in a remote area where the Magashi tented camp is now situated.
Trev has been working as a tracker at Londolozi ever since and loves the adventure and idea that you never know whats around the corner, literally and figuratively.
One of our guests once asked,
“Trevor, do you not get scared walking in the bush by yourself? What about the elephants and the lions?”
His response was plain and simple.
“Yes, sometimes I do get nervous, but those nerves are what keep me on high alert and away from danger.”
He also said that thanks to the Tracker academy he feels perfectly equipped with the necessary skills and understanding of the bush to keep himself safe.
I have learnt a lot from him and look forward to learning more. We are a young team, with a combined age of 51 years, full of energy and keen to tackle any challenge that comes our way! I am so honoured to be working with Trev and am excited for the many more adventures we will have together. Below is a photograph taken of us in one of our favourite sightings to date, a lioness grooming her five tiny cubs…