Ranger danger

2013-05-17 16:14
Rangers are a special breed. Having been on a number of game drives throughout Southern Africa, I’ve always had a measured admiration for their lifestyle choice - Living the ultimate African dream it would seem.

Game Lodges are situated on remote reserves for a reason - to deliver the ultimate wild life experience. For me, it doesn’t feel authentic if the city is a stone’s throw away and one of the many reasons why interacting with animals in cages will never be able to compare.

Game Reserves are devoid of everyday routine and undoubtedly it must hold a measure of exhilaration when you’re not quite sure what the day might bring. Will you spot a leopard kill, will it be a full blown Lion King experience of seeing hundreds of animal species foraging together in the cirlce of life?

Who knows. It’s really not only bushwhackers who are drawn to this kind of holiday. Everybody needs to go on Safari at least once.

On the flip side, there have been those game drives that have performed about as poorly as the European economy as of late. The experience yields little or absolutely nothing after hours and hours of trying to decode the bush and figure out where she’s keeping all her prized assets.

Being a game ranger means being stationed out in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from nothing at all – also faced with the possibility of daily game drives that end in naught. While many of us appreciate the vast amounts of nothingness and absolute peace in short bursts - uncannily perhaps, only once we’re back in the crazy bustle of the city - I doubt many of us would be able to do it for extended periods, if on end. Six months to a year – this vocation belongs in the list that requires a special calling, no doubt.

Bringing us to the two very special rangers indeed, they’ve made a hit and run of travel news lately.

Franco Kubile is that much-needed dose of hero. This game ranger for the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West took on a lioness to save a little girl. Let's say that again slowly, "He took on a lioness to save a little girl!" You’re immediately tempted to imagine what could have happened, but why bother?  This is a feel-good, happy ending just short of being presented with a pretty little bow.

Kubile was quoted as saying “I realised I would have been in a lot of trouble if anything happened to the little girl, so decided that it would rather have to be me."

Fear is a strange motivator at best – makes you just want to lay down your life at times!?

Then on the other hand you have the ballsy, admittedly idiotic, Brian Thomas Masters. This off-duty game ranger decided to take on a wild elephant for shits and giggles in the Singita Reserve in the Kruger National Park.

Masters has subsequently been fired from Singita for his behaviour which went viral in a video featuring him charging towards an upset elephant while being cheered on by his companions, all of them supposedly under the influence of alcohol.

The criticism of the ranger has been so overwhelming, forcing Masters to issue a formal apology.

“As a result of the recent spread of video content portraying a game ranger confronting a wild elephant I would like to acknowledge that I am responsible for the incident and sincerely regret my harmful and dangerous behaviour,” he said. Read the full apology here

Unknowingly, Masters has perhaps chased down his African dream, at risk of never again being a game ranger. But has the damage been done to game rangers all over the wild side of this country? I think not.

Thank heavens for the I'll-lay-down-my-life Franco Kubile.

Thing is, I’ve been at the receiving end of a fully-fledged elephant charge at Thula Thula – amplified because the beast was in musth.

All profanity aside at the time, it was potentially one of the most invigorating things I’ve ever experience – only because we survived. The reason we did survive was thanks to the unwavering courage of our ranger.

Now that I think about it, he was the epitome of “grace under I might get fired”

As the saying goes - nothing makes you feel more alive than when you think you’re almost dead. But one thing is clear, part of being a ranger is facing danger and even going so far as to put your life on the line.

Read more on:    travel south africa

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