Confessions of a Ranger: Brendon Strydom, 32 years old, Gondwana Game Reserve

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Brendon Strydom with his wife Stevie.

„My grandfather had a farm, right outside the city I grew up. My town is called Nelspruat, next to Krueger National Park in South Africa. I was always there. At the weekends, at all of my school holidays. I have a brother who lives in London, We are completely different, he is a mechanical engineer. He likes the city life. Me not. My way of leaving legacy is conservation work in the bush. I want to give something back to the nature, to our world.

One day, when I have to die, I like something of me is there. Others write books, I do conservation work. Everything started at an early age. You need to understand the bush, the animals, the people. As a child I did enjoy the insects, the plants, the pure nature. After, I understood the connections. If you remove something from the chain, everything will collapse. That’s it. I decided to study nature conservation at Pretoria University. After 3 years I got my diploma. My first job was in the National Park of KwaZulu-Natal for 3 years.

Krueger National Park was next. For 8 years. My family was near by and I really enjoyed more and more becoming a Ranger. I got a gun licence but I never ever shot an animal. One time I had to do a warning shot for a buffalo. Crazy buffalos!! I met my Australian wife at Krueger Park. She is a Zoologist. Then I went on to Limpopo Game Reserve. And now here at Gondwana Game Reserve I also educate pupils. Many of them are coming from very poor families. Big eyes when they see for the very first time rhinos and lions. I like that. I talk to them about conservation work, I show them the animals. Kids always give you 100 percent of attention.

Rhinos, yeah, the rhinos. I love them. I am sad about them. They are getting killed every year by poachers. My view is: We get 10 years left and then there will be no rhinos anymore in the wilderness. Sad, sad, sad!

I am very nervous. I will be a dad in a few weeks. For the first time. I think my kid won’t see anymore a wild rhino and this breaks my heart. A rhino horn grows every year for about 2 Centimeters. The Asian market pays 50.000 Euro for a kilogram of Rhino Horn. The poachers will remain. There are so many.

Our rhinos are protected. They have 24 hours armed bodyguards. But the guards cannot just shoot a poacher. Only when the poacher threatens them they are allowed to shoot. But when the poachers are shooting the animal they can’t do anything. Devastating! It is the South African law system. I do not have any answer. The poaching problem will remain. For ever! At least, until people change its mind.“

Thanks, Brendon, for the interview.

 

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