Meet our Rangers

Meet our rangers

Michael Shum

Shadrack Mashigo

Tyler Oosthuizen

They are field guides here at Tshukudu Game Lodge, and they play a massive role in creating memorable safari adventures for our guests.

We decided to ask them some questions: 

First thing’s first: What’s the difference?

What are field guides and what are game rangers? And are they different things

Yes and no. According to Michael, a “game ranger is more behind the scenes” and Tyler says that their focus is on the conservation of the reserve.But “nowadays, we are called field guides,” says Shadrack. Which means that they “take people out and teach them about the bush” when they’re on their safari vacations, says Tyler.

“The two sometimes go hand-in-hand,” says Michael and in reality, these safari heroes of ours wear both hats. We rely on our safari guides to ensure our guests have amazing bush getaways, but we also know that their deep love of our reserve (and its fauna and flora) means they’re invested in its protection.

In the beginning…

Although each field guide took a different path to where they are now, they all share a deep connection with nature.

From a young age, Tyler would go to the bush on family holidays. As a child, he’d get a bit bored when his grandfather would try to teach him about the bush. (Sound familiar, parents?)

But when he was about sixteen years old, Tyler says something clicked and he realised his grandfather “was trying to give [him] the same passion that he had.” Needless to say – it worked. Tyler’s grandfather can rest in peace knowing that his grandson continues in his footsteps of nature conservation.

“I went into this for my grandfather. But as soon as I started studying in this industry, I started loving mother nature.” -Tyler Oosthuizen, Field Guide

Likewise, Michael has always loved the bush and spent parts of his childhood growing up in it. He says he’s “always had a strong passion for these animals and conservation”.

When we ask Shadrack, he says “I’ve been a guide for 28 years.”

But you could say Shadrack’s been doing this his whole life.

You see, growing up in a rural area meant that Shadrack and his family had to learn how to track wild animals so that they could look after their various cattle.

“In our villages, there [were] wild animals… There [were] lions, there [were] hyenas. We started learning how to track them, how to follow them. Because going out with domestic animals, you need to make sure that you’re not going in the direction of those lions or hyena or whatever… It was for our safety.”

When Shadrack finished school, he took on a job as a ranger and started his training.

“That bush knowledge I had from young helped me a lot when I went for training,” says Shadrack.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

What are some of our field guides’ favourite places in Tshukudu Game Reserve?

“It’s called Shumba reservoir,” says Tyler, and “it’s such a robust area – it’s … untouched.” As he describes the thick and forested area, it’s clear he loves its untainted beauty: “You can see how things were many, many years ago. Before humans came through and started breaking things down.”

Michael joined us at Tshukudu Game Lodge recently and he already has a favourite: “The open pan towards the bush camp dam. During a sunset, it is quite an awesome place to stand in the open.” And actually, he already has two favourites. Vying for Michael’s number one position is Heart-Shaped Dam, a spot he likes to take guests to. What makes it especially magical is a “pod of hippos that start singing in the late afternoon. They make a lot of noise – it’s very special,” explains Michael.

“The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must, and we will.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Michael leaves us with an important reminder: South Africa and its wildlife – including animals like the rhino whose numbers are plummeting – rely on tourism to support its conservation efforts. 

Ready to make a difference while enjoying a safari vacation?

Visit us at: https://www.tshukudulodge.co.za/

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