GRAA bids farewell to one of its founder members

It is with sadness that we heard of the passing of GRAA Founder Member No.7 Johan Kloppers. Ranger colleagues, friends and family paid tribute to Johan during a ceremony on the 3rd March in Nelspruit.

We as the GRAA pay tribute to Johan for all the incredible work he did both for the GRAA and the world of conservation. During the founding of the GRAA, Johan represented Kruger National Park (and SANParks) during discussions with the other Founder Members based in Kwazulu Natal. He is remembered as a man of integrity with a strong commitment to conservation. Without his and the other Founder Member's foresight, the GRAA would not be where it is today. We, as the GRAA owe Johan a debt of gratitude for his efforts.

Johan spent the majority of his working career in his beloved Kruger National Park moving up the ranks from being a junior ranger to retiring as Head Manager: Nature Conservation. By all accounts Johan was a man who firmly believed Jim Feely's words that what a game ranger does 'he does on his feet, on the earth, under the sun'. Johann spend much of his time out on foot patrol and was reputed to know the park better than anyone.

Thank you for your service Johan.

May you rest in peace.

The following write up on Johan first appeared in the Lowvelder.

'Kloppers, born on August 27, 1933, was a long-serving member of South African National Parks and started his career on August 1, 1955 as a junior ranger at the Tshokwane section of the Kruger. He was later promoted to section ranger and was moved to the Letaba section in 1963. Later in November that same year he was moved to the Satara section as the district ranger for the central region. In 1967 he was moved to the Punda Maria section as the district ranger for the Far North.

His final move was to Skukuza as the chief ranger in 1973 and in 1974 became assistant director: nature management, head: nature management in 1979 and head manager: nature conservation in which position he remained until his retirement on November 1, 1993.

Klopper was the driving force in the development of the first accurate official maps of the KNP. He knew the iconic park better than anybody. He was a foot patroller par excellence, covering the better part of the park by foot during his career. Apart from his long illustrious career spanning 36 years, Kloppers will be remembered for two publications: Butterflies of the Kruger National Park and A Dictionary of Kruger National Park Place Names.

The magnificent emerging tusker that roams Kruger by the name Madolo, was named in honour of Kloppers for his service in the KNP. Madolo is Shangaan for "knees" and was the local name given to him due to his unique stride when walking.

Kloppers leaves behind his only son Jacobus. His wife Pat died some time ago.'



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