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…
Hi Trevor best wishes to you both sometimes I wish I could do the same as you live life to thr full and have the animals trust which is amazing
My husband & myself had a wonderful 2020 Christmas safari experience at Londolozi and were lucky enough to have Trevor as our tracker. Knowledgeable, Calm and Persevering would be great words to describe Trevor. Not to mention an amazingly bright smile! I have repeated numerous times the story of when we were driving along with Trevor out on his tracker seat, & a big black mamba snake reared up out of the grasses just 8 ft from him. He had to have felt his life pass before him, but he knew exactly what to do in that instant! Not to mention our guide, Guy’s quick reaction of throwing the jeep in reverse, was equally instantaneous. I remain in awe of Trevor’s calm reaction & how they both were able to put us all at ease, albeit this was not an everyday occurrence.
Robert, thanks for sharing Trevor’s story! It’s great to hear how the two of you have become so close and we know that the bonds between tracker and ranger are special. We wish the best to both of you in your exciting journey together!
W met Trevor 2 years ago and he is certainly very cool! Disappeared into the bush for ages looking for a leopard with a new kill. He found it of course! Please give him our very best.
We have experienced several different trackers during our visits–all very capable and all with different personalities.
One thing they all had in common was enhancing the guest experience.
Lovely story…..I am always in awe of these amazing trackers and all that they know! and yes…..their ability to calmly face danger every day!
We had the pleasure of seeing Trevor and Robbie coordinate their tracking skills together . Our Londolozi experience was enriched by seeing both these gentlemen react to specific game encounters.
Keep up the great work and can’t wait to be there again.
Lou ,Ann Marie and Lori Ann
Rob, what a wonderful tribute for your friend and tracker, Trevor. I think you’re both fortunate to have been paired together, each of you learning together. The relationship between guide and tracker is important on so many levels but especially for guests who rely on your expertise, respect, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for your job. Trackers are like your dominant hand, making your life in the bush much easier.
Robbie you are so privileged to have Trevor as your tracker. The two of you compliment each other in your work and you can learn from each other. I wish that I could be there everyday doing what you two are doing.
I should like to meet Trevor and hear his stories. He sounds like a wonderful person, you’ve written an awesome tribute, Robbie.
I admire the tracking skills of Trevor and the other trackers at Londolozi.
I often wonder how you are doing it.
Hi Robert and Trevor. Just writing to wish you both a VERY happy life in the Bush together! It sounds as if you two are well on your way to being a very successful team. All the best. Wendy M
You obviously have found a friend and tracker in the same body! Next time we come to Londolozi I would love to meet you both. Victoria
Robert, I appreciate your thoughts about working and learning to work alongside Trevor. In life, as we work with associates on all levels, it’s very important that we get to know all about them, their lives before they worked with us. In addition, their personal lives, their life’s hopes and future plans. Very insightful and well written. Thank you! 👍😎👋🤩
Having just spent 8 days with Trev and Robbie, I can say first hand these 2 are great together. They respect one another, they push one another and you can see that they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I look forward to returning to Londolozi in the coming years to see their progress! Best to you both and thank you again for a wonderful visit.
A really nice blog about Trevor Robert. It is nice that the two of you have formed a friendship beyond your working together. This shared friendship gives you both an insight to your backgrounds, likes and dislikes and different cultures. All good stuff. Thank you both for sharing with us.