Meet the team at UmPhafa

Neil Bone

Neil has always had a passion for the African bush. He started his career in Zululand as a professional safari guide and then moved on to reserve management with an emphasis on anti-poaching. In the last few years he has worked in Namibia working on projects to improve human and wildlife conflict. Most recently he has been back in South Africa again working in reserve management and assisting his wife Aby with a conservation volunteer programme. He brings a wealth of experience to his position at UmPhafa and is dedicated to the development of the project and the continuous conservation of the wildlife and staff development. 

Aby Spanton 

Originally from the UK, Aby moved to South Africa after a trip to Namibia in 2011 which led her to leave her corporate finance job in England and train as a field guide in South Africa! Aby has since gained experience in running a conservation volunteer programme and is excited to be working alongside husband Neil once again as they live and work at Colchester Zoo’s UmPhafa Reserve! 

Geo Smit

Geo joined the team in March 2019 as our Internship Coordinator.  After studying a Diploma in Nature Conservation, he undertook his practical year with us on UmPhafa in 2017 where he gained invaluable knowledge with regards to Reserve Management. Geo has a true passion for the conservation of wildlife. He has great leadership skills and is able to share his knowledge in an interesting and fun way. He now manages our intern programme and is a valued member of the reserve.

UmPhafa Field Rangers

UmPhafa employs a number of members from the local community as Field Rangers. They are trained to understand, identify and react to various security issues. Their role includes patrolling the main reserve area and its vast boundaries. They help to locate snares, intruders and monitor high profile species on a 24 hour basis. The rangers are provided with accommodation on the reserve so are therefore available to react to any incidents immediately. They are the eyes and ears out on the ground and also provide our conservation team with valuable information with regards to animal conditions and movements. 

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