James Moodie is a ranger and guide at Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, a reserve that is home to vast herds of wildlife, birdlife and incredible ecological diversity, with 5 of South we were very fortunate to have James as our very own private game ranger during our stay. Biggest bonus for us – it made all our embarrassing silly questions and statements during our drives slightly less awkward as there were only three of us in the vehicle! I cannot praise James enough for ensuring that we had a memorable stay and experience. His love and passion for wildlife and for Shamwari knows no bounds. So, I thought of chatting to James about his inspirations and aspirations into the wild.
When did your love for animals start?
On my 8th birthday my dad got me a bird book and pair of binoculars, both of which I still have today. It was at that moment that I fell in love with birding, then snakes and soon the love for animals followed.
How long have you been a game ranger?
I’ve been a ranger for 5 years now, working first in the Kalahari, then the Okavango Delta, followed by Mala Mala Game Reserve and now Shamwari Game Reserve.
Is there such thing as a game ranger icon, if so, who is yours?
Three names that definitely come to mind are: Harry Wolhuter, Bruce Bryden and Dr Ian Player. All three have had a profound impact on conservation in Africa and deserve the utmost respect.
When did you start working at Shamwari?
I began working at Shamwari in February 2017.
What do you love most working about Shamwari?
The freedom to work in an environment with some incredible people, and learn about the different animals and biomes that the Eastern Cape has to offer.
What are you excited for when you wake up in the morning?
The fact that anything can happen. Driving out and not knowing what is around the next corner, or what transpired throughout the night with all the animals.
What was the most surreal sighting you have seen at Shamwari?
Watching a single lioness attempt at hunting a buffalo calf while being chased around by the dominant bull of the herd, only to give up after the epic back and forth adrenaline fueled action had come to a near death experience for her. Or a random springbok ran past her and she dove into the road and caught it perfectly, dragged it straight past my vehicle and ate it on the river’s edge.
Weirdest experience as a game ranger?
Watching a male leopard interacting and playing with cubs that weren’t his own offspring was probably the most bizarre thing I’ve ever witnessed.
What is the best thing about what you do?
It sounds very cliché but the best part of my job is being able to witness the amazing spectacles of life and death that nature creates on a daily basis, and being able to inform and teach the many guests that come to witness it with me. It’s a win win for me.
One word… energy! I’m a very energetic ranger and if I have clients that reciprocate that energy my drives are always going to be fun.
Share something about Shamwari’s animals with us that we do not know
Having a huge amount of experience with viewing and researching Africa’s big cats, I can tell you in complete confidence that Shamwari’s lions do not conform to absolutely any text book! Viewing them hunting predominantly during the day as opposed to at night makes them that much more exciting to be around.
Should you be interested in becoming involved with the conservation efforts at Shamwari Game Reserve, why not become part of The Shamwari Conservation Experience?
They offer exhilarating opportunities for volunteers, to get behind-the-scenes and involved with various conservation efforts of the game reserve.
PS. James is also a great wildlife photographer, visit his Instagram page for more stunning pictures as these featured in this post.