Much like the plover and the crocodile, trackers and field guides have a symbiotic relationship where they rely on each other’s talent and skill for mutual success. We often mention our field guides on the blog but their tracking partners are equally important for ensuring an action-packed game drive.
Tracker Johnson Mhlanga has been working with Ross Couper for four years, and together they are a dynamic pair of wildlife sleuths, taking guests on thrilling, twice-daily game drives in Singita Sabi Sand. They are also known for their good humour, and Ross says that “when Johnson chuckles at something funny he almost falls off his tracker seat so I have learnt to keep the good jokes for when the vehicle has come to a complete stop!”
Ross has great admiration for Johnson’s humility, skills and experience, and together they have formed a great connection that allows them to navigate the bush by the shared memory of countless wildlife sightings. As Ross puts it so beautifully: “The history of our relationship is our compass.”
This collaborative approach is a critical component in a guest’s experience; the wordless communication between tracker and guide often leaving them quite bemused as they silently track down an elusive leopard, a lion cub or a pack of wild dogs. Johnson has a particularly keen eye for spotting animals in the distance, knowing instinctively what they are before the sighting is verified using a pair of binoculars. And unlike those of us who are a little less experienced in the bush, these are never mistakenly-identified rocks or bushes!
As the tracking team venture out on each drive, Johnson’s contagious smile and quiet confidence warm our guests even on the coldest of days. They are a fine example of people who are friends as well as colleagues, enjoying each other’s company, sharing a passion and enriching the experience for all who are lucky enough to be a part of it.
Singita Sabi Sand, which is a private concession that forms part of the greater Sabi Sand reserve, has been owned by the Bailes family since 1926. Singita Ebony Lodge and Singita Boulders Lodge, as well as exclusive-use property Singita Castleton, offer guests some of the most beautiful and luxurious safari accommodation in the world.