Ranger Jonathan is a fantastic guide. He is witty, extremely knowledgeable and has a love for the African bush. Get to know him in his Ranger Q&A.
Name: Jonathan Van Zyl
Title: Game Ranger
Started at Shamwari: September 2016
Previous roles: Kruger National Park, Greater Kruger and surrounding areas as well as Tuli Block in Botswana.
FGASA field guide
Back-up trails guide
Track and sign level 3
Fishing, Off-road motorcycling, reading and spending time outdoors.
I’m passionate about sharing special places like Shamwari with people and being able to interact with people from different countries – it’s like travelling the world without leaving Shamwari. I am also passionate about informing people of the plights of certain species, mammals, insects, trees, that were previously unaware of such saddening situations.
Favourite part of the job:
Spending time out in nature where you get to connect with yourself. It’s where I feel most comfortable. I grew up in a city but I have a calling for the wild.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey
They are very misleading animals as they can sleep for between 18 to 20 hours a day. However, there is so much power that’s waiting to be released. To see them in the act of hunting is mind-boggling! They are also the only social felines in the world which I can relate to as I’m a very social person.
Favourite animal in a sighting:
Male Kudu’s are one of the most beautiful antelope species synonymous with South Africa and are the emblem of our national parks. Guests are always in awe the first time they see a male Kudu with his huge spiralled horns that can extend up to 60 inches. They often make for comedic photos as they are browsers and will quite often have their heads poking out of the thickets with their big signature ears.
Most exciting encounter while on game drive:
Guests are surprised to hear that sometimes, the most exciting sighting is not always a kill, but a birth and the start of new life and not the end of a life. The most exciting encounter was when I witnessed the birth of a Springbok from start to finish. A colleague, Ranger Alex was in the sighting with me at the time and we decided to sit and watch the whole process unfold.
I noticed the Springbok was having contractions and that the amniotic sac was hanging out and I started timing the birth from then. What amazed me was how quick the process of giving birth was for this antelope species. It took 27 minutes for the lamb to be born and only 12 minutes for it to be standing and suckling, although very wobbly on its feet!