Alan, one of five children, 4 girls and himself bang in the middle, raised amongst the dense coastal thickets of the then remote Southern Cape coast, known to all and sundry as “The Bush”.
It was a delightfully happy place to have grown up.
Early years were spent rearing all types of injured and orphaned animals, mammals, reptiles and many birds found their way into his bedroom, much to the consternation of the rest family.
His interest in wildlife evolved further when he moved to Pretoria, to study adiploma in Nature Conservation.
After completing this he returned to the Western Cape to take up his first position, as a research technician at the Jonkershoek nature conservation research facility outside Stellenbosch. A position with the problem animal control section.
Alan was promptly landed with the job of monitoring three different troops of wild Baboons in the De Hoop Nature reserve near Cape Aghulas, the southern most point of the African continent.
After spending protracted periods with the Primates they became so familiarised that they were literally eating out of the palm of his hand. “I would stay with them for the entire day, for weeks on end, from sun-up to sun-down, where ever they chose to settle down for the evening was exactly where I would settle down for the night as well, “it often seemed as if the Baboons had chosen a place to make it as uncomfortable for me as possible” is how Alan would describe many of those evenings under the African sky.
Stories as to how some of the dominant male Baboons became addicted to a veterinarian drug are some of the tales that grew from out of this period. After the Baboons and Jonkershoek, Alan moved to Grahamstown to assist with a freshwater fish research project. Monitoring the fish populations in the magnificent rivers and estuaries on this east coast.
This later led to him working in both the Little and Great Karoo managing the plains game populations before being tempted to move to the Big Five areas to the north, the world famous Kruger National Park and related private game reserves, in particular the Timbavati game reserve.
Here he was fortunate enough to have some close encounters with the original White Lions of the Timbavati.
Moving on to the world renowned Mala Mala Game reserve in the Sabi Sand where under the guidance and friendship of David Rattray, the world renowned, late, great historian and raconteur Alan came into contact with many world dignitaries, became the senior ranger and in house professional hunter for this prestigious Big 5 Game reserve which borders on to the Kruger National Park.
Leaving the languid Lowveld and moving to the stunning scenery of the world renowned Cape Town, Alan embarked on an enterprise totally alien to the past, where the purchasing and renovating of well postioned properties on the western sea board of Cape Towns most desirable residential areas.
A business that ran well but still the attraction of the open spaces exerted there influence with the result that a rather cumbersome 4 x 4, 3-ton Mercedes Benz Unimog truck was purchased and fitted out to run Safaris into Zambia.
The extent of the logistics of these forays into the interior, from the southern tip of the African continent became evident when the first 400kms had produced 4 flat tyres. To change these collossal tyres alone in sub-zero temperatures on the open endless Karoo roads, icicles forming in ones nose, is a learning curve one needs travel only once in a life time. Remus, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and co-driver on these trips, did all he could to help but eventually crept under cover in the bed on the back of the truck, cocking an interested ear every now and then on hearing a particularly expressive comment from the roadside. Brilliant fun though and would do it again in a heart beat. We roamed Zambia from North to South and East to West a wonderful country and truly as advertised, Wild Africa.
Completing this chapter Alan moved temporarily to Johannesburg before entering into an agreement to buy a beautiful game farm on the Mogalakwena river (River of the fierce crocodile) near its junction with the renowned Limpopo river, the boundry between Botswana and South Africa with Eirik a large Norwegian with a large appetite for life. We started to plan and build a serene and restful tented camp under the huge Boerboon and Albida trees that line this moody and sometimes volatile river.
We developed “Moho Lele”, Sotho for a full term woman carrying her child. And derived from the shape of the mountain that dominates the farm. We imported species such as Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Gemsbuck and Red Hartebeest to supplement the already exsistant populations of Greater Kudu and Waterbuck amongst the many others.
Having spent 5 years developing this stunning game farm Alan decided enough was enough. A number of incidences occurred but being alone on a 1000 ha farm where it might take 30 minutes to reach your nearest neighbour, a lovely, lonely, WILD country, onde of the most fertile and productive after the resricted rainy season, but having had to do battle with a number of Black Mambas in the house on a regular basis during day time.
These superb creatures, the epitome of reptile evolution, would withdraw into tree crevasses and rocky outcrops when darkness drew its curtain their place taken by the smaller but more stealthy and abundant, Mozambique Spitting Cobras one of which tried to get into my head through my ear, but that is another story, were contributing factors to the descision to leave.
There is in most people an instinctive need to re-discover ones roots, the wish to again see the sights and smell the familiar scents of ones youth, to listen to the birds and insects in the depths of the sub-tropical thickets where one grew up, the sights, sounds and scents that formed the matrix of ones soul, the essences of ones being.
Alan wished to do this, to leave the now familiar scenes of the wilderness in the north of South Africa and again re-visit, to seek out his beloved Eastern Cape.
Taking up a position at a world renowned Big 5 Game reserve, where he has been entertaining foreign and local tourists alike with the many anecdotes and stories collected over three decades of coursing the seemingly chaotic paths and tracks etched into the wilderness of Africa.
Always a free spirit, Alan has embarked on his own enterprise and now offers tourists the wealth of his accumulated knowledge and know how spanning more than 30 years in the wilds of Southern Africa. He is a qualified level three F.G.A.S.A .[Field Guides Association of Southern Africa] Tour Guide and a Specialist African wildlife nature guide with further qualifications having been obtained in Zambia and Mozambique.
His interests are wide and varied. Birds, Botany and Bushman paintings, Mammal, Reptiles and more recently our Cultural heritage, inspired by the myriad of ruins in the Limpopo river valley as well as the recent colonial history of the Eastern Cape with special emphasis on the tribal Xhosa and their leadership during a difficult era. An era that embraced 9 wars fought over 100 years of intense conflict. 100 years of wars, collectively known as the Cattle wars, the Xhosa wars, the Frontier wars and finally as is more commonly accepted today, the wars of Dispossession.
A fascinating subject on its own and one that weaves its way into the fabric of the Eastern Cape as surely as that woven by the animals and birds, insects and reptiles, the trees and plants, the marine and coastal environment, the hills and mountains and the rivers and streams that paint this canvas seasonally with different colours but always the same, a product of Africa the cradle of Mankind, the cradle of life itself on this planet.