Sipho is one of the most humble, knowledgeable and passionate guides. He is well-liked by guests and colleagues alike. He guides out of Riverdene Family Lodge and has a passion for educating guests & children about conservation.
Name: Sipho Mare
Title: Game Ranger
Started at Shamwari: 1 April 2016
Hometown: Addo, Eastern Cape
Previous roles: I did marketing for First National Bank for a few years. I also worked as a laboratory analyst before finding my passion for wildlife. I worked as the assistant ranger’s manager at Addo Elephant Park for 6 years. Thereafter I worked at Shamwari Game Reserve for 8 years, and then at Baviaanskloof as a wildlife manager. I missed guiding out the bush and then decided to come back to Shamwari.
Advanced Field Guide
I enjoy going to church, I love sport – particularly soccer and rugby which I played for a few years. I enjoy listening to music, mostly gospel and classical. I’m also very close to my family and love spending quality time with them.
I am very passionate about helping people, it fulfils my heart. I also have a passion for Shamwari. I love that it is a pioneer reserve, we have so much to offer that other game reserves don’t and I love that my job helps to provide that for our guests.
Favourite part of the job:
I love guiding out of Riverdene lodge, being our family lodge. I love getting to know families that choose to stay at Shamwari and guiding children. It inspires me when the children have questions and are excited to learn about nature and conservation. They soak all my knowledge up and I enjoy teaching them all that I know about wildlife and the Eastern Cape.
“Conservation is an ongoing battle and it is important for everyone to realise that we all have a responsibility to protect wildlife for future generations. We need to make a combined effort to curb the poaching of Elephant, Lions, Rhinos and Zebra.”
A Leopard – the mere fact that it can survive almost any type of habitat. It blends in so well and is a remarkable animal. The way that it has adapted to survival is amazing. It knows no bounds. Their eyesight is incredible and they can survive off of eating the most unusual things.
Favourite animal in a sighting:
I am intrigued by their family units, I love watching the youngsters playing and pushing each other around. The way they talk to each other, follow each other around – they always stick together as a family. No matter what happens and I love that about them.
Most exciting encounter while on a game drive:
I was guiding out of Riverdene last year and I had guests that were with me for six days. They were awesome guests! We had fantastic game drives but my guests longed to see the elephants at Shamwari. The elephants had been on the western side of the reserve, in the south of the reserve.
I am cautious when I take my guests to the area called Lovers Lane at Shamwari. It is a beautiful area but it is also a densely-vegetated area. Rangers exercise more caution than necessary when heading to that part of the reserve.
On the fourth day, I decided to go out looking for the elephants as I had a suspicion that they were in that area. My guests and I made our way there and as I turned the corner we saw 3 elephants drinking water. It had been raining so there were pools of water on the road. As I switched off my vehicle as not to disturb them I looked in my rearview mirror and I saw a big herd coming behind me to join the others at the pool of water.
My guests were so happy to see the elephants. I decided to move my vehicle to the one side of the road – as to make space for the elephants to walk past. There was no place for me to go so I had to stay put. I then told my guests to remain calm and not to make any sudden movements as it can attract attention. The herd of elephants came down and squeezed through to join the others and drink water in front of us. My guests were so amazed and loved seeing them so close to the vehicle.
We rangers are trained to assess animals and their behaviour and I was able to see their behaviour and it was fascinating for my guests to see that elephants’ behaviour is similar to humans and you are able to read them. They were all drinking water, sniffing towards the vehicle, playing around. It was the highlight of their stay at Shamwari and it was a thrilling experience for me. One of the many I’ve had at Shamwari.