Hi-Tec Inspiring Adventures

Posted on 21 June 2021 By Anita Froneman

Words by Danielle McDonald

Images by Konrad Raubenheimer

I love it when people follow unusual paths. It usually doesn’t matter to their story if they ended up on their journey as a quirk of fate or if it was a deliberate choice. It’s the action they take to make it there, leading lives that don’t follow a syllabus or recipe that is inspiring.

I met five people who don’t fit the mould this month. People with a love for the outdoors that led them to lives that are far away from offices, lives outside in their Hi-Tecs. 

Samuel Shambare: Crashing with Rhinos

Sam tells of growing up in rural Zimbabwe. Often it was fun meets survival, as he patrolled on the back of a bareback donkey, defending the family maizefield from baboons.

These days he drives a 4×4 around Khaya Ndlovu Private Game Reserve, tracking wild animals and taking guests on game drives. I sit behind him on a cold morning just before sunrise. Him, in his Hi-Tec Some II Jacket and me in my fleece and under a blanket.  We are tracking a group of rhinos that Sam calls his children. Okay. I’ll bite.

He tells me that after his donkey-days in Zim, he got a gig as a jockey at a racecourse in Harare, and when the opportunity knocked to come to South Africa to train riders in an anti-poaching unit, he thought ‘why not, it’s only for three months’.

Three months in South Africa became 15 years, but after losing a friend on an anti-poaching job, Sam decided to go for what he actually loves –  spending his days outside guiding guests through the bush. And then six years ago everything changed again,  when five rhinos with babies were killed in different reserves in the area.

Rhino Revolution adopted the babies, and knocked on Sam’s door… again.

He bottle-fed those rhinos daily until they were eighteen months old. Once they were released back into the wild, he tracked them for the first few weeks to see if they would stick together. Amazingly they did, but the newly forged family don’t stop to say hello anymore. It’s bitter sweet, but it’s better if they stay away. “We are the enemy after all.”

Liezel & Queen: Power Rangers

Just up the road from Sam, I meet Liezel and Queen at Kapama Private Game Reserve. With big smiles, these two ladies call the African bush their office.

People still expect rough and tough men in khaki short shorts to take them on safari, but make no mistake, these girls can clean a rifle in the time you and I pour our gin and tonic.

They are the femme fatale of the bush: tracking leopards, changing tires, and driving around in massive 4×4’s in their Hi-Tec Neva Jackets. And then they have this pff-I’m-not-scared-of-elephants confidence. It’s a vibe.

Liezel Holmes has been at Kapama for 17 years and she’s the first female Safari Manager at the 5-star Private Game Reserve. Hard work and consistent overperformance got her the job, where she leads a squad of over 80 rangers, trackers and guides. Her enthusiasm for the bush and lively personality inspires other female guides like Queen Manyike, to follow in her footsteps.

Queen’s been at Kapama for almost two years and at 26 she is their first African female Safari guide. She’s from Acornhoek, just a few kilometers away. On our drive she shares anecdotes of how older family lived closer to the bush: how to pray at a Marula tree, how to make a toothbrush from the branch of a certain tree and which leaves are safe to use when you need to use the bush-loo.

They make me feel so proud to live in a country where hard work pays off.

Xolani Lawo: Penguin Whisperer 

Gansbaai is where you’ll find Xolani Lawo and his community of conservationists at Marine Dynamics. They are doing all they can to save the African Penguins – the only penguin species found in Africa.

Watching him talk to the penguins is hilarious. He looks like a kindergarten teacher talking to a bunch of mischievous 4-year olds: Everyone has a name, must finish their meal, do their exercises, be nice to each other. He also keeps an eye on their love interests, because you can’t trust Cindy, she cheated on Biltong!

Xolani is a Senior Bird Rehabilitator at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary where they are coming up with innovative ways to delay the African Penguin’s extinction from the wild, predicted to happen in 2026. Extinction. For ever.

The master plan is to teach more kids about marine conservation and get them excited about penguins.  ‘We need to create an army of young penguin protectors who are passionate about saving the species.’

Joslin Abrahams: Jos Bos

Joslin Abrahams has that spark in her eye. A special energy and enthusiasm that makes everything seem possible.  I meet her in the Tsitsikamma Forest near Stormsriver, where she jumps over a stream in her Hi-Tec Oxtrails, trying to catch a frog in a net. She is showing a group of kids how to test the health of the river by catching crabs, frogs and insects. She is teaching them about the ecology of the river, and to protect their natural resources.

Joslin lives in the Stormsriver Township and these kids are her neighbours. She wants to give them opportunities to learn about the forest, the Stormsriver Mouth Marine Protected Area, Astronomy and whatever she can.

You see, ‘Jos Bos’ grew up pretty wild. They lived in the forest and had no electricity until she was 18. While she loved it, she often wonders if she might have become a scientist or professor if she was exposed to more at a younger age, or if somebody had taken just the interest to teach her something new.

That is why she is taking the Stormsriver Township kids on tours through the forests and parks whenever she can – it’s not just the joy for life that the nearby nature can seep into their township lives, it’s in the noble hope that something will spark, somebody will find a dream, and make it come true.

Shop for your next adventure at https://hi-tec.co.za/


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