'I believe I am a top quality ranger that never gives up'

BONGINKOSI Mthembu is one of many game rangers at the Hluhluwe Game Reserve who are highly respected by the community for their hard work.

Mthembu is revered for making sure that the area is protected against any danger and people in the vicinity are safe.

Game rangers are primarily responsible for the physical and resource management of game reserves.

They work with ecologists and game reserve and wildlife managers.

They manage and maintain the biological populations of the reserves in addition to roads, fencing, water resources, erosion control, alien plant control, burning programmes, population control and bush clearing among other tasks.

Mthembu is this and more. His colleagues and he are always around to render services no matter what weather conditions are like.

"I believe I am a top quality ranger that never gives up," he says. "Be it on sunny days when we do not have hats and on rainy days when we have no raincoats.

"I do my job with passion, because I am dedicated to the safety of those around me."

Rangers in Hluhluwe are viewed as assets and the backbone of the reserve, the eyes, ears and heroes of the communities they are involved in.

He has been a game ranger for nine years and has on many occasions been described as the best field ranger because of the effort he puts into his work.

"I have a good working relationship with my colleagues. We respect each other and that makes us work well as a team," he says.

Many reserves are still faced with issues like animal killings by members of the community.

It is this type of challenge that Mthembu and his colleagues deal with on a day to day basis.

"This makes us rangers important role players in the reserve," he points out.