sabi sabi ranger stories
trainee rangers get a taste for life in the bush
Sabi Sabi is recognised as having one of the industry's most comprehensive and successful training programmes for all staff members, and ranger training is particularly thorough. A challenging ranger selection course is run by an executive training ranger, ensuring that only those candidates ideally suited to this line of work are chosen to join the Sabi Sabi team. Before rangers-in-training are entrusted with the safety and enjoyment of guests, they undergo extensive training, encompassing bush knowledge, hospitality and safety.
Young trainee rangers, experiencing their first days in the bush, wrote these stories:
HYENA IN THE PAN
I had just started out at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and started to realize the diverse aspects of the bush and its environment. Being a trainee ranger there was, and is, so much to learn and see. Our evaluation camp was definitely something to talk about back home.
One of the memories that I will remember forever will be the night that we were sitting in the boma at Bush Lodge, when we heard a spine-chilling groan from the pan. Everyone got up to see what it was and we realized that three hyenas had just caught a kudu and started pulling and tearing at its flesh.
They were in the water, and luckily for the kudu, the hyenas pulled him under and he died a quick death. We jumped into our safari vehicles and went to the pan - it was amazing to watch and see how they feed - but I could not help feel a little sympathetic towards the kudu. During the ordeal, slowly but surely, the rest of the hyenas started to come to the feeding frenzy. All I can say is "WOW". I'd never before seen anything like this - it's the first story I tell everyone who I bump into, and something I won't forget.
LIFE AS A JUNIOR RANGER
A new life, different sacrifices and personal growth - these are a few of the challenges that I have experienced in the short time of being a young ranger at Sabi Sabi.
It all started at Ngumi camp - a camp put aside for ranger selection courses. Here the survivor series continues. Your personality, your morals and your personal views are assessed and taken into consideration to see if you fit the profile. So yes, I made it. A personal goal achieved. Now the real work starts, long hours and at times hard conditions become the norm, but I have realized that this is my dream and I will live it to the full. This is made easy when you look at the environment you are working in.
Yes, we will have traffic jams, noise, pollution and crime but with a difference. Traffic jams are caused by elephant and, at times, grumpy ones, noise pollution comes from roaring lions and nightjars stating their presence in the night. Crime is everywhere, but out here, crime has a natural place, hyenas stealing and grabbing every opportunity of a free meal that they can. So, is our world that different to the city or are they just different choices made by people who live in them?
So my advice to future rangers and future guests is, come and join our choices and see how special and different life can be even if it is just for a short while!
HENRY AND THE ELEPHANT
It is customary to walk our guests back to their suites after the evening game drive, before dinner. At the request of one of the guests, I escorted him to his room.
I began to make small talk and started up a conversation. Henry, the guest, began telling me about his game drive. Being his first time in South Africa he was really excited about all the animals he saw. The long neck of the giraffe was one fascinating thing that Henry could not stop speaking about. As we moved along, not far from his room, Henry began asking me questions about elephants as he was interested by their size and enormous power. Not two meters away from the door to Henry's suite I heard something rustling in the bush and quickly turned my head to investigate the area while Henry carried on speaking about elephants. I quickly told Henry to keep quiet and pointed at the bush that lay about five meters away from us. I saw the shock on Henry's face when his eyes became locked on the top of an elephant's head that was moving up the embankment. It started grazing on the bush in front of us.
I told Henry to keep quiet and not to move. While we stood dead still watching, the elephant began walking closer and closer until his whole head and shoulders were visible to us. Henry's face seemed to get whiter and whiter with each passing second. The elephant was now almost completely exposed and made me feel like a infant standing next to a giant. The elephant stared at us, and made a sudden turn towards us, shook his head and began descending the embankment.
I looked at Henry and smiled ' he returned the smile but said nothing.
RHINO CHARGE AT NIGHT
On our arrival at Sabi Sabi, the five of us had no idea what to expect. All of us were very excited to be chosen to join Sabi Sabi ranger's team.
Little did we know that we had our own camp, where we would be staying, called Machandon camp. No walls, no fences, just the bush about five kilometres from Bush Lodge. There were no beds and no water, because the camp had not been occupied for about six months. So, we got beds in and started to pump to fill the tank that would in turn fill our geyser. Once we had settled in, we tried out our uniforms for size, noted how good we looked in them, and were very confident that we fitted the part. Our first duty was in the evening. We had just left camp for Bush Lodge when we heard something move next to the vehicle. The sound got louder and out of the darkness I caught a glimpse of something big ' a rhino coming at us at full pace. Shouts and screams rang out 'go, go, go'. Rory, who was driving, did not know what was going on. It was a close call because the vehicle just got out of his path before any damage to him or the vehicle could occur. Now all of us had adrenalin pumping to the max.
When we got to Bush the guys and myself could not stop talking about what had just happening, and we all came to the realization that this is what we are here for and look forward to having these great experiences with our guests.
THE LION IN THE RIVERBED
We were at Ngumi camp where we did our selection course. We called it our ' home in the wilderness'. Every night each of us had a chance at keeping guard for an hour. On my first night, I sat chatting with one of the other guys, alone in the bush first time ' we were feeling pretty brave.
Sitting next to the fire writing our diaries at 2:00 in the morning, we were on top of the world. We heard lions in the distance of the African darkness and felt very at home. We started talking about what we would do if something were to happen and we were pretty confident about our ability to handle any situation. Then we heard the lions again, but this time much closer. We looked at our watches and saw that we only had 20 minutes of our shift left.
But as we were sitting down again, fifteen minutes from the end of our shift, a big male lion roared right behind us in the river bed. Like fireworks my new friend and I jumped into the safety of the Land Rover, where we sat for half an hour before deciding it was safe enough to get out and wake the next shift!
In the African bush even the bravest talkers give way to the king of the bush.