Sep 9, 2016

Meet a game ranger - Scenic


We ask Grant Parker, Safari Operations Manager, from Thornybush Game Lodge - Kruger National Park, about what it takes to be a game ranger.

Q1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GAME RANGER?

20 years.

Q2. WHY DID YOU BECOME A GAME RANGER?

A background in the biological sciences (I have a degree in Zoology and a postgraduate degree in Wildlife Science) coupled with a love of meeting and interacting with travellers from around the world make the hospitality industry a good fit for me.

My wife, Melanie, is the General Manager of Thornybush Game Lodge which means we have the opportunity to work together.

Q3. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR METHODS OF TRACKING ANIMALS?

I think that tracking is part art and part science. Our guides work with highly skilled and experienced trackers in order to produce the best possible safari experience for our guests.

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I work with Million Mathonsi and we use a multitude of inputs from the environment, including footprints, signs of feeding, scent marks, dung and the reactions of other animals to allow us to find game as efficiently as possible thus ensuring that the time our guests have with us is used optimally.

Q4. THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST THRILLING SIGHTING?

Many years of guiding in Big Five reserves has meant that I have been privileged to witness many wonderful things. A highlight must be finding a newborn baby elephant struggling to find its feet as an excited family mill around the newest family member and its mother.

Seeing the large carnivore hunting and taking down their prey is also a highlight that a lucky few may experience

Q5. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I particularly enjoy sharing my knowledge with guests. If they go away with a better understanding of how the savanna system functions then they too can become ambassadors for the conservation effort in South Africa.

Q6. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT SHARING THESE MOMENTS WITH GUESTS?

A Big Five safari is a life-changing experience for a guest. Sharing the excitement of a first elephant sighting with a traveller is great fun.

Watching the expression on their faces as the elephant becomes bigger and Bigger and BIGGER as it approaches and then stops next to our vehicle to feed is priceless!

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Q7. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL TO TRACK?

A leopard is always challenging to track. They are inclined to use the roads less often than the much larger and conspicuous lions and their constant changes of direction whilst patrolling their territory make them very difficult to locate.