Blog by UmPhafa Project Coordinator, Sarah Forderer

I came to South Africa eight years ago. My reason for this is like many I have had a lifelong passion for wildlife, especially Africa’s wildlife. After a number of years working in the guiding, training and lodge industry I have found what I would class as my dream job.

Jandre and I arrived on UmPhafa one year ago. We arrived from deepest darkest Swaziland to the wonders of electricity, wifi, skype and glass windows. Only when you have gone without can you really appreciate the smaller often overlooked comforts of life.

Now twelve months on we are settled and thriving in a wilderness area that has been created solely for the purpose of conservation. To work and live in an area like this is unfortunately a rarity in Africa. To have the freedom to roam anywhere we wish in this vast space is a luxury both ourselves and our interns hopefully will never take for granted.

Everyday brings new learning opportunities, challenges, joy and sometimes heartache. To share this environment with others who also have such passion and enthusiasm not only makes our job fulfilling but also gives us hope that there is a future for these animals and this continent. The recent death of one of our female giraffes brought many comments from our previous interns expressing their condolences and sadness for our loss. Once you have stayed on UmPhafa it is impossible not to be touched or affected by what happens on the reserve even after your visit has long passed. For Jandre and myself we feel privileged that we have joined such a huge and ever growing family.

So why do we live out here day to day so far from our friends, family and to an extent civilization. To really understand why, you have to experience the African bush for yourself. This environment, the animals, the people and the life it works it way into your bones. Once it gets hold of you it simply doesn’t want to let go. Many of our interns come and stay and you can see the change in them within just a few weeks, sometimes days. The African love affair has begun. It is a place that can be harsh and cruel, magical, majestic and liberating. It will never ever cease to amaze you.

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