Private Game reserves are fighting back, and Trish and I were privileged to be invited on an anti-poaching unit patrol on the edge of the Kruger National Park, in November 2015.
Let’s call them Tom, a British volunteer who also has to pay his own way, and David, a Zulu who knows and values the flora and fauna that Africa has to offer its many tourists.
Both are prepared for a dangerous mission for little or no reward.
This two-man patrol took us on a fence-line walk of 10kms. They were checking for any tracks or forced entry since their last patrol 12 hours earlier – the night of the full moon.
The pair live a Spartan lifestyle, having built a tented camp in the bush and have been given enough basic food for the three week stint before an eight or nine day rest at base camp. They sleep with their rifles within reach.
As no one is trusted, they have surrendered their mobile phones, so only their radios, linked via three repeater stations, keep them in touch with base. They can be called on at anytime to rush to the aid of other patrols. Both are armed and accept that it is a dangerous business.
Tom told us he had worn a pair of boots out, but not before covering 2000 walking miles in them. The new ones are going well on a diet of 80 miles a week!
The pair alter their routes and timings, but have built a knowledge of the area and notice when even a blade of grass is not where it was last time they passed by.
They are two very happy people who value what they are doing and, so far, since they arrived, no one has attempted entry. “Word we are here soon gets around, and we are happy about that,” said David.
No details of the individuals or their location have been shared in Phil's report in order to protect their safety