André grew up close to nature in Zululand, a hotspot for biodiversity in South Africa. He always had a keen interest in nature from a very young age and took up birding seriously from the age of 14. After obtaining a BSc Environmental Sciences degree, a yearning for nature brought him back into the bush as a game ranger and guide.
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Four years of working closely with guests at prime lodges has earned him a valued working knowledge of how to exceed every guest’s specific needs, as well as develop a very keen eye and great knowledge of all fauna and flora. Having worked as a specialist bird guide at these lodges, André is well positioned to expound his knowledge and enthusiasm to all fellow birders.
What got you into birding?
At a very young age I was walking in our garden and heard a knocking noise up in a huge Eucalyptus tree. After some investigation, a very angry Spotted Eagle-Owl swooped down and thumped me on the back of my head. While somewhat shocked and taken by surprise, I knew I was hooked. I started birding from then on and remember being fascinated by the scarcity of some species and obtained great reward by finding them. I started listing and engaged in serious birding and traveling from that point onwards, the rest they say is history.
What attracted you to a career in tourism?
While still at school I was involved in leading a number of outings for the local bird club. I found it very rewarding showing people birds that were special or new to them. I also managed to take a few clients around for Birdlife South Africa whilst at university, and realised a feasible career could be had from doing what I love!
Do you have any other hobbies?
I enjoy reptiles and amphibians, also keeping lists for both of them. Working as a guide at lodges has also brought on a passion for mammals.
Are you a lister?
Indeed, listing comes naturally if you're a keen birder I think. I keep lists for my local patch, province, country etc as well as yearly lists.
What are your strengths as a tour leader?
I have a very keen eyesight and pick up on the smallest of movements, this coupled with great hearing makes for some exciting birding and enables me to pick up on some unobtrusive avian gems. Patience is another great attribute that I have managed to pick up in my birding career and I have mastered it working within the lodge industry. I enjoy the challenge of giving directions to birds that have not been seen by clients and will persevere until good views have been had by all. All the above done with some humour and laughter in between makes for a great experience and great memories.