Bayete Zulu Game Game Reserve | Interview With Graham Adams

Last month I was lucky to be one of the bloggers given an opportunity to experience staying at Bayete Zulu Game Reserve. I sure had a great time and really enjoyed spending some time with some of the bloggers that came along.

I interviewed the Bayete Zulu Game ranger, Graham Adams – who’s actually the coolest and youngest Game Ranger I have ever met. I had a lot to ask him as I was really impressed to see how passionate he is about his job.

Read our Q&A Below:

Tell me more about when you first started working at Bayete, did you experience any challenges getting yourself familiar with the reserve since it is such a huge place?
I started with bayete on the 1st of December 2012, being my first real guiding position I was
Nervous. You sort of wonder if you are going to be good enough, will guests like you, colleagues ECT. Then you get given a vehicle and a map and told go drive 23 000 hectares with most probably 400-500 roads on it. Eish. quite often your only indication of what direction to head in is to take a left at that “green“tree, and might I say how familiar you get with a certain “green” or dead tree when you know that if you miss that turning you and your guest are now on an adventure in the bush heading the opposite way from the lodge. It took me about 3 months to learn roads although even now I still find new places to explore.

How did you hear about this post, I mean – you are from the South Coast…?
My girlfriend and I were doing our walking safari training up here in Zululand and even though we were just doing a short course the guys from our training provider (Bhejane nature training) were nice enough to find us placement, Louise (my girl) was offered a position at Bayete and I was sent up to hoedspruit to work on Balule game reserve, where after 2 months I didn’t agree with their ethics and safety procedures (as well as home sick) and parted ways with them. I then joined croc world down on the south coast where I helped out with crocodile feeds and venomous snake shows until Louise gave me a call one day, bayete was looking for a new ranger and she had recommended me. I came up for an interview about a week later and the rest is history.

Were your parents comfortable with letting leave your home?
As sad as they were about me leaving home, the fact that I had followed my dream my whole life and finally made it come true made them happier than they ever could be. Not many people are lucky enough to know where they belong in this world, what to do with their futures ECT and i think that is a big worry for any parent as well. I had also had a rough couple years through high school that I think had put even more worry of my future on to my parents mind, so when in a matter of a year I had pulled myself out the gutter and found my calling that really reassured my mom and dad that their son wasn’t a failure as everyone had proclaimed.

What made you choose a career in tourism?
My love ,my passion for the bush is its animals and protecting them, but being young and clueless I didn’t even know how to start getting my career in order .Then one day I was lucky enough to sit down with a guide and find out how to get into the bush , the just of it is that a lot of life in the bush is who you know and building a good reputation ,so you need to start somewhere and for me my option was a guide ,where I get to learn about my natural surroundings ,spend time with the animals I love  ,educate people on conservation and slowly be able to work my way up to a point where I might get asked to help more on the animal front.

Where did you study and how long was your course?
I did my entry level course which is known as your FGASA level one ,with a company called Africa nature training(ANT) up in Limpopo where I was involved in a very basic 6 week course(due to my funds). But there are courses available from 6weeks to 3 years depending on how deep your pockets are. I then did a tracking course with Limpopo field guiding academy and all my firearms and walking qualifications with an amazing company Bhejane nature training based in Zululand.

Tell me more about your love for animals and how do you feel about people who abuse them?
My love has stemmed from a life time of being fascinated , awed and just in love with every animal I’ve come across , from pets at home to reptiles and birds I found in the garden , long walks and bike rides with my dad through our local nature reserve. But my real love was for the animals of the bush I saw on TV when I was little, watching lions, elephant, cheetah ECT on national geographic got me hooked and even at 4 or 5 I just wanted to be a Ranger! An animal in this day and age stands no chance against what us as people are capable of; they have no one to protect them as we protect ourselves and other humans so they are the ones suffering. My hair is on end and my blood boiling just trying to answer this question. Why do us as a “superior” race (I use that term lightly) have to torture and abuse another species for our pleasure and how is it right? I mean how is it right to hunt an elephant at 100m with a high powered rifle for a trophy and the thought that you are a “man” but shooting a bad person who is stealing your hard earned money after raping your wife can land you in jail…

You seem to have a very good relationship with your colleagues, why do you think it is important for people who work together to get along in the workplace…
In this industry where you live and work with the same people all day for weeks on end, sometimes without any outside influence you become very close, it’s not colleagues its family and that is exactly what it is like at bayete we are a big family that laugh and cry together, we fight yes but I could not ask for a better team to do our daily battles with. I also believe in a place where there is so much danger around every corner that trust has to be strong. if I’m catching a mamba for example from the lodge I want to know who ever is helping me trusts me with the snake and I can trust them to close the bucket or whatever it might be.

Where do you see the South African tourism in the next 10 years?
I think if more people in south Africa can pull fingers out their bums and see just how important eco tourism is in this country ( I mean I saw a tourist map of SA the other day and next to the flag and our national emblem , languages ect was a thing that said SA is best known for: its wild animals and natural spaces, that says it straight) then we are in for an amazing future for tourism but at the same time if poaching persists , and we keep destroying all these natural areas for urbanization soon we are just going to be like every other city locked county where you will only be able to see these animals in zoos , what’s going to differentiate us from Europe or USA where they will also be able to see the same animals in zoos without leaving their own country.

What has been the greatest highlight of your career as a game ranger thus far?
Being able to share every day and my life with our three elephants that has changed my life beyond words. Just feeling of peace with myself that only being in the bush can provide, I could make a list as every day brings new highlights( watching lion cubs play, leopards relax  ,elephant families all playing In a mud wallow) or just enjoying the most beautiful sunsets the world has to offer with some of the most incredible people.

What’s your favorite animal?
Every animal! But definitely elephants spark a deep love for me! they show emotion ,love ,their number one in life is family and protecting them , the mourn and cry ,they smile and play with each other and help when others are in need regardless of status or wealth and that I think we could learn a big lesson from. Entire families will put their lives on the line for one of their own species.

Do you fear any animal at all? If yes what animal is this?
Fear no. . . . I’m slightly creeped out by over sized stick insects, I won’t lie. I have a fear of climbing a tree and grabbing a large moving branch.

What’s the best advice you would give to aspiring game rangers?
Do the qualifications they ask for and try have one or two extras as a bonus. Once you find a nice lodge to work at stick it out for a bit, companies are looking for permanent employees they can trust .Our industry is known for having a large turnover of staff, most only making between 3 to 6 months before going elsewhere.

What do you enjoy most about working at Bayete Zulu?
The E.L.E.P.H.A.N.T.S duuuh.

How often do you get to see your family?
I try to get home once every two months if I can.

What’s your secret to having such a special way of communicating with animals?
Just a passion and an understanding for them. We are all animals and if you understand that you understand them . . .  if like most people now days put themselves above other species then your thought process will never reach that far.

Why do you think people visit Bayete Zulu?
A unique family opportunity, that isn’t on offer anywhere else and at a reasonable fee. Not many places that you can experience the bush with the whole family, in luxury at a middle class price. Then of course there is Rambo, Rachel and Jabulani who I believe are the stars of Zululand and the biggest attraction to our reserve.

If you were to convince a tourist to visit Bayete Zulu – in one word, what would you say?

What other fun things can people do when they visit Bayete?
We have guided walks available, elephant interaction , birding , close to the sea for diving ,whale watching ,near to the famous Isimangaliso wetland area where you can watch turtles nest, hippo and croc boat tours , reptile farms ,horse-back riding ,you name it Zululand can offer it.

Bayete Zulu is___where only special things happen!
Being a game ranger is___the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I wake up every day and___love my life , my job and the choices I have made.
Tourism is___the biggest thing South Africa has to offer this world, we should cherish it and what it means to us as a nation.

Thanks so much to the guys at 1stZulu Safaris for transporting us and the awesome Lauren Wallett for organising everything.

Thanks so much for reading, hope to see you again :)

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