Q&A with Sandra Visagie, Section Ranger in the Kruger National Park

sandraWe speak to Sandra Visagie, long-standing member and section ranger in the infamous Kruger National Park.   

1. How did your career begin?

While being a Maths teacher for grade 11 and 12, I studied further Nature Conservation and was fortunate at that time to be able to work closely with the Johannesburg Zoo and had the privilege to raise lions and leopard when they were abandoned by their mothers.


2. How did you your career progress to the point where you are now, a section ranger in the world famous KNP?


In 2001, I became a Project Manager for a number of Projects in KNP: erosion control, alien plant control and wetlands, after which I was appointed as Section Ranger at Pafuri, KNP.


3. Describe some of the challenges you faced along the way?


I had to really prove that I was really interested in becoming a Ranger. To be a Section Ranger at Pafuri is very challenging. Pafuri is the most north eastern part of KNP and SA and borders on both Mozambique and Zimbabwe which in itself is quite challenging. We also experienced rhino poaching since 2013 and now we are having to cope with an increase in elephant poaching. With that there are other kinds of poaching to contend with: poisoning of animals, snaring, hunting with rifles, illegal fishing in rivers and wetlands. I also have to manage the Safety and Security and Conservation matters of Makuleke Contractual Park.


4. You must have been outnumbered as a woman in the field, was there resistance because you were a woman?


The position of Section Rangers in KNP is a very male dominated profession and I am one of only 4 female Section Rangers and 1 recently appointed Regional Ranger, Tinyiko Golele. Not all males are resistant towards female rangers, but they expect them to perform as males would.


5. Have you seen an increase of women come into the profession?


There is definitely more interest from females to get involved and become a ranger. For more than 100 years game ranging in our national parks has been dominated by males. Percentages of female rangers are still low though.


6. What still needs to be done for women in this profession?


To be a female ranger is not easy, you have to have specific characteristics and temperament to be able to cope with all the challenges and it is a myth that this is a romantic career. More training and skills development is needed, technically as well as leadership training would be advisable. If you are at an outpost like myself, you need to know about solar systems, generators, water pumps, lister engines, etc.


But I would not change anything about my job or expect less challenges. I am living my dream!



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