Don’t be fooled when you’re on safari. The life of a game ranger may look easy and idyllic but in reality, that impression couldn’t be farther from the truth. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.
We chatted with Kyle Naude from Rhino River Lodge to find out a bit more about what it means to be a wildlife ranger:
How did you become a ranger?
At the age of 20 I was studying nature conservation and started looking to getting into the guiding industry. It was extremely difficult as I didn’t have any experience in the hospitality or guiding industry. Fortunately, however, I had managed to get my hands on the contact details of an owner of a lodge in Klaserie who had taken interns in previously. While there, I was able to work as an intern and study my FGASA qualifications. It was really beneficial experiencing it all and studying at the same time.
What is the biggest benefit of being a ranger?
The biggest benefits for me are getting to spend my days doing what I love, spending time in the bush and challenging myself to do things that I have never done before.
What is your favourite memory from working at Rhino River Lodge?
One of my favourite memories is of a cheetah sighting. A male cheetah had just made an ostrich kill but, little did I know, the ostrich was not completely dead yet. I was looking through the binoculars and noticed that the ostrich was still blinking. I was just about to tell the guests that the ostrich was still alive when all of a sudden the ostrich jumped up and tried to run away. A little astonished but not about to let his meal get away, the cheetah quickly managed to jump on the ostrich and bring it back down again. A few minutes later, though, the ostrich jumped up for a second time and tried to run away again. The poor fellow didn’t get far though before the cheetah managed to bring the ostrich down again, this time making sure that it was dead.
Is there anything that you wish guests would do/not do when on safari with you?
For me, the only thing I would like guests to do is asked more questions and enjoy being out there. It’s not always about seeing Big 5 animals. Sometimes we can go out into the bush and not see much but that is the nature of a safari and sometimes it is really difficult to try find specific animals. It’s always nice when guests aren’t shy to ask questions. Sometimes we don’t know the answers ourselves, but that’s where it helps us as the guide to broaden our knowledge by doing the research.
There you have it! A bit more about what it takes to be a ranger…straight from a ranger’s mouth!