Ranger with a passion for nature

2019-07-11 06:00
Qualified field ranger, NK Ntsete (40), has been putting life and limb on the line to protect wild animals and indigenous flora, such as the cabbage tree (insert), from extinction for the past two years at Pabala Private Nature Reserve situated between Loerie and Hankey - all while educating the wider public.                   Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

Qualified field ranger, NK Ntsete (40), has been putting life and limb on the line to protect wild animals and indigenous flora, such as the cabbage tree (insert), from extinction for the past two years at Pabala Private Nature Reserve situated between Loerie and Hankey - all while educating the wider public. Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

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AS dawn breaks on the peaks of the Baviaanskloof Mountain in the distance and slowly crawls towards the sandy soils and protea bushes of Pabala Private Nature Reserve, field ranger NK Ntsete (40) fastens his leather boots, tightens his belt and prepares for a day in the bush . . . not knowing what to expect.

Every day is a new adventure and holds the possibility of new and interesting discoveries.

Good or bad, he will not change a thing, not even for a modern suite and high-profile job.

Ntsete has been putting life and limb on the line to help protect wild animals and indigenous flora from extinction for the past two decades in the Eastern Province - all while educating the wider public.

A passionate field ranger at Pabala situated between Loerie and Hankey for the past two years, he smiles proudly, “Being a field ranger is a calling from God and driven by passion. It requires a deep rooted passion for the wild and a willingness to commit your life to nature and conservation.

“I want to make a difference in the world of conservation and I want to conserve our natural resources for generations to come.

“We need to save and protect what we have.”

Bush bug

But where did his love for nature and conservation start?

Ntsete looks over the rugged landscape: “I have had a love for the bush from a very young age - all thanks to my knowledgeable father who lived close to nature.”

Pointing to a nearby tree reaching towards the sky with its scrawny branches, he says, “That is a cabbage tree, its roots are very soft and watery - especially good for when you are thirsty and there is no water nearby. It is a bit sweet, but not too sweet.

“That is the aloe africana, a very important part of my culture.

“In earlier years, when my father had a misunderstanding with my mother, he had to sleep in the bush. The next morning he would wash his face in the fresh river water and use the thorny aloe leaves to comb his hair.

“And that is an acacia bush.”

All of this, he learned as a young boy from his father.

This passion never disappeared and after high school he took the leap to follow his passion, completing several accredited wildlife and conservation courses.

Over the years, his fondness for nature grew even more.

People-focused

He smiles, “Along with a deep passion for nature and wildlife, you need to be completely committed to learning and growing to reach a point of obtaining exceptional knowledge within the field of guiding.

“Paired with this are your interpersonal skills, which need to be strong as you are taking different types of people on a ‘journey’ - revealing the bush and its secrets to them.

“It brings me joy to be able to share the knowledge of what I am passionate about and enlighten people on fascinating facts and stories about the bush – I always get a bit of a kick when you see people with wide eyes, listening intently to what I have to say.

“My goal is for these people to leave with a burning sentiment in their hearts that nature is worth protecting and keeping.”

Real benefits

The best part of being a ranger?

“Being a ranger certainly comes with its own set of challenges, but the reward of living in the bush and doing what you love - while making a difference - is what makes it all worth it.

“The bush satisfies my passion to continuously learn and grow. I also value the quiet times when nature sinks into the soul - moments like sitting and watching a sunset or buck at a watering hole in silence.”

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