Meet the fearless guardians of Grabouw’s forests

May 17, 2024 | Activities

The guardians of forestry areas in the Kogelberg Biosphere have been very busy in the last 10 months, working to protect the animals and plants that live here.  

The Kogelberg Biosphere appointed four Forest Rangers in August 2023. They monitor and patrol in the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) Forestry Areas between Steenbras and Eikenhof Dam, outside the town of Grabouw.  

And every month they are reporting between 80 to 150 incidents – many of which directly impact on people and the natural world. 

These four Forest Rangers are also, deservedly, our Biosphere Champions. They are 26-year-old Andile Majozi, 26-year-old Joshwill Isaacs, 22-year-old Curt-Lee Kaptein, and 21-year-old Duma Mandilakhe. 

Photo 1: Andile Majozi and Joshwill Isaacs. Photo 2: Duma Mandilakhe. Photo 3: Curt-Lee Kaptein. Photo 4: Andile Majozi 

How our Forest Rangers protect this region

These champions are responsible for reporting fires that start in the Forestry Areas, allowing for a quick response in order to contain wildfires as quickly as possible. Given that there were more than 60 fires in the Grabouw region in the 2022/23 fire season – including two major fires in the pine plantations – it shows the importance of having eyes on the ground.

The Forest Rangers are also crucial in reporting and recording illegal activities, such as hunting with dogs, theft of forestry resources and illegal cutting of flowers. They report and record illegal dumping in the area. They’ve also assisted with repairing trails after flooding incidents – in particular following the flood of September 2023. And their presence also helps to raise awareness of the economic and conservation value of the land.

The work is hard and physical. Come rain or shine, these four rangers hop on their bicycles to cycle through the Forestry Areas every day, with their keen eyes ready to note anything out of the ordinary. Despite this, they love what they do, and have learnt a lot from their work.

“We have learnt the importance of preserving nature for future generations and stopping illegal activities,” says Andile. The rangers would also like to continue in their current roles, “to protect the area for the Grabouw community”.

The importance of a constant presence

According to Corlie Hugo, Coordinator of the Kogelberg Biosphere, “Their incredible success shows the importance of a constant presence in the hidden-away corners of the Biosphere. This team is playing a vital role in protecting our wildlife – and above and beyond that, also protecting lives, livelihoods and infrastructure through their monitoring work.”

She says, “This has been a project that has brought many partners together. We are deeply appreciative to the Overberg District Municipality for providing the funding for their wages through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). Local tourism operators and private landowners are also supporting the day-to-day operational expenses.”

These include Racepace Sportwear, Trail’s End Bike Hotel, Elgin Grabouw Cycling Academy, Kabodhi Mountain Retreat, Grabouw 4×4 Route, Bicycling Empowerment Network and other private landowners, who are all involved in the project.

Corlie says, “Above all, we are so grateful to these Biosphere Champions for fearlessly working for a better world for everyone!”

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