The most notable trait of the staff at Arathusa Safari lodge is that they love what they do. The rangers and trackers proudly transport visitors into another world, where the language is in the sound and rhythm of the bush. They are full of entertaining anecdotes, interesting bits of information and an infectious passion and enthusiasm. They are experts out in the field, and are the finishing touch to the fine quality of the Arathusa safari experience.
Roy Mkansi (ranger) and Chris Khoza (tracker)
Roy was born in Sabi Sands and grew up in the bush. From a young age, Roy displayed a keen interest in his surroundings and through reading books and being closely guided by his older brother, his knowledge steadily grew. Roy has a special gift for imitating bird calls.Following in his brother’s footsteps, Roy began working in the bush to gain experience. The bush is both his love and his life, and this is evident in the enthusiasm and respect he displays for all wildlife.Says Roy, “I know how to survive in the bush; wherever you leave me – I will survive!”
Chris was born in a town about an hour from the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, and grew up looking after goats and cattle while going to school. After finishing school, Chris realised he was more interested in animals, and wanted to move away from the town he was living in and into the bush.He took an opportunity to work in a lodge as a waiter and used the opportunity of being in the bush, and around other trackers and rangers, to gain knowledge of the bush, animals and spoor. Chris attended formal tracking courses wherever he could, and grabbed any opportunity to practice his tracking skills with both hands!With his determination to grow, his wonderful sense of humour and his quick ear for different languages, Chris is a true example of someone who knows what he wants, and is willing to put in the time, hard work and patience to attain it!
Sean Gilbert (ranger) and Rifos Mnisi (tracker)
Sean grew up in the hustle and bustle that is Johannesburg city, and was very lucky at a young age to be exposed to the outdoors. He was always encouraged to be outside and considers himself as very lucky to have had the opportunity of visiting game reserves with his family.
“I cannot think of a better and safer life to live than out in the bush guiding. I always say that I have two loves in the bush, my first love is birds and my second love is everything else. I feel a very strong passion for the bush and all its aspects – from the smallest mosquitoes to the biggest elephants. I am always ready to learn and sponge any new information I can from any source, but sharing my passion and introducing any new bush lover to the wild is a very rewarding feeling. I look forward to seeing everyone at Arathusa very soon.”
Rifos was born in the southern Sabi Sand Game Reserve, where his mother and father both worked. His chef father’s love of food and cooking did not rub off on him; instead he was given another gift.
Rifos attended school in Utah, and during the week he boarded with his grandparents, where he would help – like so many other boys his age – to tend the goats and cattle. This is where his gift first surfaced. He realised that he could recognize the spoor (footprints) of the individual cattle. On weekends and during school holidays, Rifos would return to his parents. There he spent his time playing outside, swimming and fishing.
During his formative years, his stepfather helped and guided him to develop his natural talent. Starting with the smallest and simplest of animals, Rifos worked hard to learn everything his stepfather had to teach him. Today he is one of our most experienced and fervent trackers.
After completing his schooling at Utah, Rifos landed a position in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, where he worked for the next nine years. He has been at Arathusa Safari Lodge since 2006. Rifos is absolutely passionate about the bush, animals, spoor and tracking, and over the years he has completed many courses to aid him in his profession.
Rein Kock (ranger) and “DeBeer” (tracker)
Rein was born in Johannesburg and was very fortunate to have been exposed to the bush from a very young age through visiting nature reserves and his uncle’s farm just outside of Hoedspruit not far from the Sabi Sands nature reserve. He has been a guide in different parts of the country, doing many different types of guiding including being a trails guide in the greater Kruger for the three years.
His interests are in Botany and Mammal behaviour.
DeBeer was born north west of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. He grew up as many of his peers did, as a child herder – looking after his family’s cattle. After finishing all his schooling, his interest grew in the field of the bush, game ranging and tracking. To put his interest to the test, De Beer went to neighbouring farms where he began learning the art of tracking; starting at the bottom with whatever the bush had to offer, and he slowly began mastering the art of scouting for tracks and learning spoor. This gave him the confirmation that he wanted to pursue tracking further, and De Beer has completed various training courses successfully. Since 1996 he has worked in game ranging and tracking, and he still has a passion for the bush and for sharing his ‘art’ with all those who cross his path.
Jamie (ranger) and Norman (tracker)
Jamie grew up in Namibia and Kimberley, Northern Cape with plenty of small wildlife and wilderness from a young age before moving with his family to the Scotland. It was beautiful but not the same as playing in the desert or exploring the veldt and “the real Africa” tasted while on safari was sorely missed for many years.
Fortunately nature’s call was not forgotten and soon answered – after graduating Edinburgh reading zoology and a stint of work as a mammal field ecologist in the Scottish Highlands, he bought a one way plane ticket back to childhood dreams.
This began with biodiversity research in Kruger then carnivore spatial-use and prey preference studies in a nearby private reserve in the Kruger to Canyons biosphere where research contributed to conservation management and university collaborations.
It seemed an obvious transition to at first be interested in, undertake and enjoy this line of work but what had originally captivated him all along was simply the freedom of living in, exploring and observing animals in the wild… and this meant only one thing – being a ranger!
With several years “bush experience” finding an entry to guiding was soon forthcoming, first on a private concession in Kruger and later making it across to the Sabi Sands. Jamie’s main interests are carnivores, birds, animal behaviour and evolutionary ecology but he is interested in everything and loves sharing anything interesting with guests.
Norman was born into a cattle farming family and grew up tracking his father’s cattle every day in the nearby community lands of Utah. His grandfather was a hunter and father a tracker teaching Norman how to track animals as well as the use of trees and plants right from the age of just 13 years old.
After finishing high school where his interest in nature conservation was highly evident, tracking as a profession with his family background was a natural progression and he started to look for an opportunity to work in the neighbouring Sabi Sands. Starting first at Chitwa chitwa in the Northern Sabi Sands sector for a foot in the door Norman soon moved to Arathusa’s neighbouring reserve Elephant Plains for several years before finally coming to settle at Arathusa.
Norman loves the variety of the bush each day seeing new things but he especially enjoys spotting animals, usually cats that nobody else can see!
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