Thursday, November 14, 2013


This year has been a busy one that's for sure. I have been so fortunate to be involved with the Field Rangers in the Kruger National Park. We have been assessing and training them to track people. Unfortunately poachers!

The field rangers are such a wonderful bunch of guy's and girls. Field rangers are a positive bunch who thrive on being successful and put their all into their training and work.Field rangers are doing their best in very trying circumstances. They just like the rest of us they have family's, mortgages, school fees and all the rest! They spend most of their days on patrol in the bush in one or other section of the park. In the scorching summer with temperatures reaching the high 40C's, the summer thunder storms, and the cold, dry winter days followed by freezing nights.

Without them our rhino would be decimated already and we would be fighting to save our elephants. These guys try to make sure that never happens. They are just as heart sore every time we lose a rhino!
As most people get ready to take a holiday and celebrate Christmas with friends and family remember our men and women in green.

They are our front line! the thin green line in a war against poaching!
My thoughts will be with them this Christmas.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


My son Ben asked to use a camera this holiday. At first I wanted to give him a long story about being careful with it and how expensive cameras are etc. Then I realised that he was responsible and it was a step in learning responsibility. More importantly it took him into his own world. He could look at things in a new way and spend time outside just exploring. Isn't that what got me into this career of mine, the sheer fascination with the outdoors?

I think this shows a real eye for composition!

A self portrait on game drive.

A great start.

I look forward to spending a good few hours with Ben behind the lens in the future. I also think photography is such a good tool to allow people to be kids again and see things in a new light. I always enjoy looking at how so many people can see the same object in so many different ways.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Appreciating Nature

I have often been asked how I became involved in wildlife. Well the answer, I think lies in what you are exposed to as a child and the experiences you have.
I was always into animals, horses, dog's and cats! That lead to wanting to be in the countryside to be able to ride a horse as often as possible.

I convinced my parents I wanted to go to boarding school and that is were the real interest started.
Being at a school that was very outdoors based I was soon exposed to all sorts of wildlife experiences. Tubing down a river, building forts in the forest, and trying to catch all sorts of small animals. Our snake collection was amazing for kids of ten years old.

Hiking trips into the berg were an all time favorite. Altho not always easy!

It is these experiences that I think build that love of the outdoors. The earlier we start exposing kids to the countryside and all it has the better. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trying to make Sense?

I had an e mail today for someone wanting to do something about the poaching that is so rampant in South Africa. Their concern was that it would be too little to late? How do you answer that or even begin to explain why we sit in this situation.

We all know that there is a huge demand from various parts of the East for rhino horn, ivory, lion bones, and so the list goes on. Part of the reason is traditional medicine, dagger handles, and more recently people trying to show their status and wealth.
In recent years the Chinese have become very involved in Africa, more so that in the past just suppling arms. They are now involved in building infrastructure in exchange for who knows what? There are various theories/stories of Chinese labour being used for these projects and then having to stay in the host country. There are the same stories of arms for ivory, rhino horn, diamonds etc

We have recently signed a agreement with China for more economic co operation and trade. Why are we not asking for sanctions against all the countries that are responsible for murdering our natural heritage? We are experiencing animal abuse on a scale only seen 200 years ago with the eradication of the great herds of buffalo. Why are we not putting more pressure internationally on these countries. We were all for sanctions against apartheid? People of the world stop seeing these acts in isolation! It is happening globally and it affects us all. It leaves our systems, our life blood in a poorer state.

In African countries were there is often so much corruption due to nepotism or affirmative action. You have incompetent people in positions of power that make decisions for their own good. They employ unqualified people so they will always look good and can not be easily caught out. They employ people in the same political party or with family links. This leads to a ill disciplined police force, an unmotivated army and a general disregard for the countries laws! Hence the disbanding of the Endangered Species protection Unit in the police and the removal of the Scorpions.  Once the system gets to this stage it is very easy for criminal elements to take advantage of such people.

We could even extrapolate and say that some ruling parties would rather have an uneducated population so as to stay in power and not be questioned. That same party could also benefit by being the power house in a region by keeping their neighbours countries unstable. Those unstable or economically poor countries might easily revert to civil war to try and change their political systems. hence RENAMO's threats of going back to the bush. Were do guerilla armies get money for arms? The easy solution is wildlife. The old smuggling routes established in the 80's by the guerilla's and the South Africans may not be there but it is easier now. With Eastern diplomats in most Southern African cities, the diplomatic pouch is open for business!

So the real reason we are in the situation we are, has more to do with economics than with anything else. As I see it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Field Rangers

Field Rangers

These guys and girls are our last defense against the rampant poaching that is taking place in South Africa and other parts of Africa. We are currently losing a rhino every 11 hours!
Most of the rhino horn and ivory goes to Asia and especially China. 

Why is Africa selling it's soul for yen? We do more business with China than any other country. Once we have no more coal, copper, gold, diamonds, timber what are we going to trade? How many Asian tourists visit our national parks?

How many tourists will visit a war zone? Which is what our parks are, make no mistake. How many tourists will come to see parks with no rhino, elephant or lion?

Why is it ok to sanction countries for human rights abuses but it is ok for them to rape our country! Were are the sanctions now?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wooden Fork's

Wooden Fork's

I have been known to raid the rubbish skip's in town. Now before anyone thinks I am really down on my luck! let me explain. There is a carpentry shop in town that throws a lot of offcuts into a skip. There is often some very good wood amongst all the rubbish. The size is also just right for knife handles and a few other pieces.

Before Christmas I was looking for an idea to compliment the pickled onions I had made as presents. As kids we always had a sharp knife with a thin blade that we had used to retrieve pickles from the jar. Much like a kingfisher darting into the water to catch fish. We speared pickles!

Mothers tend to frown on this sort of behaviour at the lunch table. So the pickle fork has come into being in the Pattrick household.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Little Swift

Little Swift

We have a colony of Little Swifts nesting under the eve's of our roof, there are literally hundreds of them. They seem to decrease in the winter months as some move away and some remain. 

The thing that has us stumped is why we find so many young falling out of the nests. There are the tiny pink helpless ones right up to the almost fully grown adult looking birds. We have managed to raise one ! so far !!

Everything I have read does not mention any form of cainism? My only other thought is that the parasite load gets to much and they vacate the nest to try and get away from mites etc??