Conservation in the life of a Game Ranger

“To those who have always wondered how they might best serve the wider world, wildlife conservation is, at its core, one of the purest forms of giving.”

- Thomas Kaplan

 

 

Every morning I wake up by clicking the light switch on my watch, 04h30 it reads. I haven’t used an alarm in ages, my body automatically just wakes up at that time. I draw back the curtains and see the morning light beginning to break through the treetops at the edge of the river. I open my window to let the cool morning air in and take my first breath of the new day. I see a few nyalas are gathered on the lawn outside my house as I close the door behind me. I’m on my way down to the deck that overlooks the Sand River. The coffee pot is hot and Betty is arranging all the cups and saucers so that all the handles and spoons are facing the right way. As I sip my coffee looking out and over the river bed my mind begins to wonder what does today have in store for me. “Nothing ever happens twice out here” and “you never know what you are going to find” I’ve heard other guides tell me and they couldn’t be more right, I thought to myself as I took another sip of my coffee. My thoughts started to drift as to where in this wondrous reserve I would begin my game drive when a sudden ominous sound in the African bush cut straight through my thoughts. The rasping sound of a saw cutting through wood. Four, five, six times it went and then silence. I turned and looked at Betty, with a broad smile on her face she said “Ingwe”, Leopard. I dropped my coffee cup on the table, grabbed my camera case and I was off in a search for the source of that rasping sound.

 

 

Being a field/nature/safari guide or game ranger has its perks. The above snippet into what could have been a Tuesday or even Saturday morning is just a small taste of what’s in store for us each day. So a little bit more about my background and as to why I chose this profession over any other.

I was educated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa for my high school days, a beautiful and diverse part of our country. I think this is where the rolling hills and beautiful scenery had their effect on me and coaxed me into being outdoors rather than indoors. This lead me onto my next adventure and pursuit of the great outdoors and what Africa in its vastness had to offer. I spent a year in East Africa after finishing high school where I found myself in very unique circumstances. Living out in the wild, in a small dome tent for the better part of a year. This experience made me appreciate what Africa has to offer and what it does to you. The African bush became my place of solace after a troublesome incident which left me in awe at Africa’s capabilities of healing. 

After returning back to South Africa I enrolled at Stellenbosch University where I attained a bachelor’s degree in Environmental development and conservation. A step in the right direction but I was itching to re-immerse myself in the bush once more. Beginning my guiding career training at Londolozi Private Reserve in the Sabi Sands WildTuin. A stone's throw from South Africa’s most prized conservation area, the Kruger National Park. A better part of a year spent there taught me more about nature and life than I have ever learnt before. At the beginning of this year, I moved over to the world renowned MalaMala Game Reserve which lies between the Sabi Sands Wildtuin and the Kruger National Park. A place that many wish to visit in their life.

This is where I found a passion for photography. After picking up a camera, I started to see the animals in a different way. While I am still very much a novice at the wildlife photography game, I am starting to see that there may finally be a way that I can serve the wider world. As stated in the quote by Thomas Kaplan in the beginning.

So I have decided to create a fine art photographic gallery based purely on wildlife. The Four Six Edition. This gallery is purely based towards contributing towards wildlife conservation efforts in South Africa. The proceeds of the images sold through this gallery will go towards efforts and foundations that play an active role in the conservation of African wildlife.

The Four Six Edition’s goal is not to make money off wildlife but rather for wildlife.

 

 

The images sold at the The Four Six Edition gallery will either be sold from a set of four or six. Making them a limited edition print for the buyer. It is a small operation to begin with however I have a dream that other guides and guests of the African bushveld will appeal to the Four Six Editions roots and become contributors to the gallery. So this is not for personal gain, the African bush has given me so much already even if it is just a smile on my face during my morning coffee or the giggles I get when I see a young elephant trying to drink with its trunk. I hope that those that see the dire circumstances we are facing with losing wildlife and natural areas and in some way the Four Six Edition can stem that tide and make some difference.

 

Please go and have a look at the thefoursixedition.com to see if any of the images you may be intrigued by and may be willing to put on your desk or in your hallway.

With each print sold a detailed account of where your money is going will be sent to you.

I feel that Sapmok encourages this initiative and that is why I am proud to be associated with a brand/company that promotes conservation thoughts and efforts.

 

Liam Henderson