My Name is Nicola, I was a Game Ranger for many years, and although in the line of Ecosystems Intelligence and Training now, I still often look back on the amazing collection of memories and stories I experienced during my time in the field.
I started my training in the Kruger Park area, the one all and end all it feels when you are young and new to it all. Kruger is amazing. I love the wildness, the diversity, the colours there. It is intrinsically magical there. The new experiences etched into me every day we were out there, following our Ranger Guides and Trainers and learning all the plants and signs and smells in this wonderfully captivating ecosystem. I wanted to stay there and never leave. I figured, at the ripe age of 20, that this was it!
But life still had many more ecosystems for me to experience, and now, in hindsight, I am glad in many ways that life didn’t always go according to my plan. In those early days I really was just flotsam floating on life’s raging course, and the ever turbulent river took me through a journey to a few varied, but all equally intriguing ecosystems, each of which had something new for me to learn, feel, discover and experience.
I found myself in the Waterberg, following by the Hluhluwe Umfolozi, then back to the Waterberg and from there to the Botswana border in Madikwe; each impacting me spiritually and emotionally, as well as adding to this what I began to realise, overwhelming world of never-ending facts, intrigues and wonder. There was a similarity to each, yet portrayed so differently. And as my life progressed, my intuition of these places grew. I learned to look at things differently, find intrigue in places I hadn’t looked before.
While so much of it was daunting at first, my innocence was also fast being stripped into a new courage I needed to find. This was a vastly male dominated profession I had chosen for myself, and at the time, I was, and certainly felt, like just a little girl in a vast wilderness. At times it was so peaceful that you didn’t know where earth ended and heaven began, and then in a blink of an eye, it seemed everything about it was trying to kill you.
Before I blinked I was back on the move, and uncertain and unsure of what it was all about, I didn’t realise then that I was actually now, at last, “on my way home”. I was on my way to Gorah, in Addo, where in short ‘my heaven’ awaited. But that is too simple a word to describe the journey I was about to embark on.
Everything had come to this one point…. and at this point I “became”.