Marc was born in Johannesburg, and his keen interest in wildlife and birding comes from being brought up in the Johannesburg Zoo, where his father was the curator of primates and small cats. He often jokes that he has been let out of his cage for the tours. Marc is based in Nelspruit, South Africa, and moved down to the Lowveld when his family started the first Chimpanzee Sanctuary in South Africa, Chimp Eden, which is affiliated with the Jane Goodall Institute. Marc worked at the sanctuary for 5 years.
Marc spends most of his days in the Kruger National Park, but leads tours across Southern Africa, including Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana. Marc has a Degree in Nature Conservation, and is a THEATA/FGASA Level 2 Guide who sits on the BirdLife Lowveld Committee.
More about Marc:
What got you into birding?
I have been a Keen bird watcher for just over 3 years, and my interest for birding grew from being a Nature Guide for 5 years in Kruger National Park and also across Southern Africa and Africa.
I worked at the Chimpanzee sanctuary for 5 years, and my love for birding began here as I was given the opportunity to travel Central and Western Africa rescuing Chimpanzees. Realising the sheer bird diversity in the tropical rainforest was an eye-opener. One day on a Game Drive in Kruger, a report of a Pel’s Fishing Owl came in from an area I frequent regularly, and this bird was the turning point, as it opened my eyes to the amazing birdlife in my office, that I was not noticing. This lead to me starting a bird list, and I began travelling Southern Africa to find birds, and ever since then, I have been hooked.
What attracted you to a career in tourism?
I have always grown up around wildlife and been involved in the education of wildlife and the threats wildlife face. While finishing my degree in Nature Conservation, I soon realised the only way to protect our wildlife is through education and exposing people to wildlife in a positive manner.
I qualified as a guide as I started the educational and tour program at the Chimpanzee Sanctuary; I also got involved in guiding school groups in the Kruger and this lead to me becoming a qualified guide to do this in an effective manner.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I am a keen wildlife photographer and enjoy sharing my passion for birding and wildlife with all who come to marvel at my wonderful office in Nature. I am is actively involved in research projects and am continually adding data to the Second Southern African Bird Atlas project; while also being involved in the monitoring of Wild dogs within the Kruger National Park.
I am interested in all wildlife mammals, reptiles and Amphibians and I have recently got into my dragonflies and damselflies. 5 years of working in Kruger National Park have given me a huge appreciation for all wildlife both big and small.
Are you a lister?
For sure. I am a fanatical lister and keep lists for my province (Mpumalanga), Kruger National Park, South Africa, and Southern Africa. I am starting a world list and hope to travel more extensively while leading Birding Tours. One regret I have is not keeping a list while on my Travels in Central and Western Africa. I do believe, however, in enjoying the bird and not just adding it to a list and getting a tick. I still enjoy watching common birds in the garden, hence the reason I call myself a bird watcher.
I hope to travel to Madagascar, more in Africa, Australia, America and anywhere else interesting to admire both avian and other wildlife.
What are your strengths as a tour leader?
I absolutely love sharing my passion for birding and wildlife with guests, and this pushes me to make the most of a tour and show my guests as much as possible. I have been leading tours across Southern Africa now for 5 years and this has taught me patience and I have learnt how to work with different personalities and nationalities. I enjoy learning from my guests and hearing from them about their travels and experiences. I always enjoy a good laugh and believe a laugh a day keeps the Doctor away.
My experience as a field guide in Kruger enables me to pass on my knowledge on all wildlife across to my guests. I consider myself to have a good spotting eye or ‘bush eyes’ and good hearing. I have also, over the years, developed a trust in following your gut and sticking to a plan in order to find wildlife. I am interested in animal behaviour and this I believe allows me to pass on great knowledge to my guests that will have them sitting on the edge of their seats.