Meet Gregory de Klerk (Full Time Tour Leader)PREVIOUS PAGE
As a young boy who was raised in Durban, Greg found his passion and interest in all aspects of the natural world. To escape the metropolitan and suburban blur of everyday life, his family would frequently take trips to various national parks in South Africa. Birding only featured after his ninth birthday, starting as a family hobby, and developing into a passion and eventually a career.
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Gregory de Klerk
On completion of his high school education, Greg followed his passion, studying Game Ranging and Lodge Management. This gave him direct access to the natural environment which had captivated him from a young age. He thrust himself headlong into the tourist industry as a guide, for more than a decade, at a few well-recognised lodges on the western border of the greater Kruger National Park.
It was here in the Savanna Biome that his passion for birding, fauna, flora and photography flourished. As a member of the Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA), Greg challenged himself with their courses, achieving a Level 3 guiding qualification and he is currently completing his Savanna Specialist Qualification. He also had the privilege of working closely with his habitat manager to re-introduce and study the endangered Cheetah and to help in the protection of the currently under threat Rhinoceros. The culmination of his passion for both guiding and birding resulted in Greg becoming a Tour Leader for Rockjumper Birding Tours.
How did you get into Birding?
My mother was the catalyst. She religiously feeds the wild birds in our garden. One particular morning the green flush of a Lovebird caught our eye, feeding with the common species. This captivated the family for almost a week and soon afterwards our home started sprouting binoculars and bird guides from all the nooks and crannies. The rest, as they say, is history…
What led you to a career in Tourism?
A simple choice and some determination. Should I study and end up working in an office? OR, should I study and work with nature, outdoors? Not a difficult decision.
I always wanted to work in nature. I chose to study subjects in high school that would align me with a career in a nature-related role. After high school, I chose to study a Diploma in Game Ranging and Lodge Management. Natural progression led me into the heart of the tourism industry, as a guide, on the border of Kruger National Park. My passion for guests, wildlife and guiding have kept me firmly entrenched in the industry ever since.
Any Hobbies and Interests?
Wildlife and bird photography have become quite serious (and expensive) hobbies. I get a great amount of satisfaction from getting the shots I really want. I am also an active freshwater aquarium keeper and partake occasionally in both indoor and outdoor cricket matches.
What are your strengths as a Tour Leader?
I’m a very patient, calm and collected allowing me to adapt to group dynamics and needs while maintaining a professional standard. I am known to get just as excited as a guest on the occasions I see something new. I’m approachable in any situation, meeting all with a smile and a good sense of humour. My ID of birds on both call and sight is strong, while sharing information in a way that is both informative and easy to remember.
Are you a keen bird photographer?
Yes, I am. I have spent many frustrating hours and days trying to achieve the shot I would like. I find birds in flight and skulking, secretive species to be both challenging and rewarding.
Are you a lister?
I am a lister. I only started listing when I left high school, so many species I had seen before were ‘unofficial’ sightings. With a few friends keen on listing and competing to get more lifers than the next, the healthy competition spurred me on to record more accurately while having a ball of fun chasing species to grow my lists.
What are your future goals as a Guide?
In Southern Africa, there are still a fair number of species to record. My goal is to crack the 900 bird mark and start making an attempt on at least 50% of the international bird species. As a guide, I would also love to bird in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the Amazon and India.
Where are your favourite birding areas?
I love birding in the forest biome. Forests leave me in awe with their incredible diversity. I am also in favour of both pelagic and fresh water birding. The sheer numbers of waterfowl, gulls and petrels make me very excited.
Gregory de Klerk