Jan Dykema

Game Ranger

When did you start at Shamwari?

2 May 2010

Where are you from?

I grew up on a farm in Kroonstad

What did you do before starting at Shamwari?

I was in the military as a paratrooper for 4 years

What are your qualifications?  

  • Advanced Field Guide
  • Full trails
  • Track and sign level 2

What do you do for fun?  

  • Trail running
  • Adventure racing – expedition Africa
  • Mountain biking
  • Fishing

What would you say your passion is?  

I have a passion for nature, wildlife and meeting new and interesting people

What’s your favourite part of being a ranger?

I meet new people all the time with my job and I love it! I also love being up every morning and the unpredictability of the bush. I take each day as it comes because you never know what the day may bring as each and every day in the bush is unique. 

Are there any quotes or sayings that you live by?

I have a few… Live life to the fullest, never underestimate the power of the mind and always be friendly.

What’s your favourite animal on the reserve?

Without a doubt the Leopard

What’s your favourite animal in a sighting?

Elephants, as they’re very social animals and are always busy moving around.  I think they are fascinating creatures.

Tell us about your most exciting game drive experience:

About 2 years ago, there was a lion sighting called in by ranger Ben from Bayethe. It was on the eastern side of Riverdene Lodge, down at the river line. Ben called me over to join and as I got there, they decided to walk through the river to the opposite side where I just was. So I told Ben to stay where he was and that I’d drive back to where I came from and he must dial me in if he sees the lion again.

As I got there, one female lion came walking out the bush where the other two members – the big male and female were still in the bushes. I heard a call that sounded like something massive was being killed and at that stage I thought it was a buffalo. I radioed Ben immediately and asked if he had heard it. His response was the same as what I thought – lions killing something.

The female that had walked out then went back to where the sound of the killing was taking place. We followed her and zigzagged through the bushes and I’ll never forget what I saw that day! The big male lion was on top of a sub-adult hippo. By the sight of what was happening it looked like the male hippo was badly injured and was resting his wounds. But, as the lions walked through the river they smelt the injured hippo and thought it was a great opportunity to take the animal down. So, the big male was on the hippos back, biting when another female joined in.

At that stage, I radioed the other rangers because it’s  a once in a lifetime sight on the reserve and I believed the hippo wasn’t going to make it as a third female then joined in. However, the young hippo managed to build up enough stamina and strength to make a run for the water while the two lions clung on. Luckily for the hippo, they jumped off just before the water and he managed to get away.

If you want to keep up with Ranger Jan’s adventures at Eagles Crag Lodge at Shamwari Game Reserve, follow his Facebook page for photos and personal accounts with the animals.