Frank Laka is a true nature lover and thrives at his job when taking guests out on game drives. Picture: Awande Dlamini
Nature is Frank Laka’s biggest passion. And every day he gets to live it as a field guide at the Mabula Game Lodge.
In his job, Laka revealed, he got to share his love of nature and animals with visitors to the 12 000 hectares of land near Bela Bela. While guiding our group for the overnight stay we spent at Mabula, Laka showed great knowledge of the wildlife and vegetation of the Waterberg area.
He started working as a tracker before studying nature conservation and now visitors to Mabula can share his enthusiasm about animals.
For our first afternoon game drive, Laka managed to get us so close to a family of lions that we could have touched them.
This is one of the most interesting thing about the game drives at Mabula.
If you love animals, you will be in for a treat as the guides try to get you as close and as safely as possible to the animals.
We got to see the lions, which hunt for their own food, napping in the sunshine.
The lion family woke up and lazily stretched, their bellies full from their last meal.
Some of the other animals we saw on the afternoon and morning drives included buffalo, wildebeest, kudu, hippo, large groups of warthogs and, my favourite, elephant.
Laka warned that people sometimes see elephants as gentle giants but they can get dangerous quickly.
“When looking at the elephants, you must always be aware of your surroundings and have an escape route.
“The times I have been in dangerous situations with animals, it has always been with the elephants,” Laka informed us.
enthusiasm about animals. In the two days we spent with Laka, he managed to get us so close to a family of lions that we could have touched them.
Frank Laka works as a field guide at the Mabula Game Reserve. Picture: Awande Dlamini

This is one of the most interesting thing about the game drives at Mabula. If you love animals, you will be in for a treat as the guides try to get you as close and as safely as possible to the animals. We got to see the lions, which hunt for their own food, napping in the sunshine. The lion family woke up and lazily stretched, their bellies full from their last meal. Some of the other animals we saw on afternoon and morning drives included buffalo, wildebeest, kudu, hippo, large groups of warthogs and, my favourite, elephant. Laka warned that people sometimes see elephants as gentle giants but they can get dangerous quickly. “When looking at the elephants, you must always be aware of your surroundings and have an escape route. “The times I have been in dangerous situations with animals, it has always been with the elephants,” Laka informed us.
While the animals are allowed to roam free, Mabula lodge has not lost even one rhino to poaching.
This as other reserves are fighting hard to save their population from poachers.
“We have great security and field guides to take care of our animals,” the soft-spoken guide told us.


Laka is also very proud of Mabula’s buffalo.
“The buffalo we have don’t have TB. Our animals are well taken care of. The same way that people can get sick, animals can also get sick.”
If the Big Five and other land animals aren’t your thing, you can go birdwatching and see at least 340 species of birds. One of the most beautiful birds we came across was the woodland kingfisher, which travels from central Africa to South Africa.
“We also have a lot of protected trees, including marula, leadwood and mountain mahogany.”
Laka thinks the richness of nature at Mabula is something worth saving.
“I love nature, it is very beautiful. I love showing local and international people our interesting animals and how they live. I also like teaching them about how to take care of nature so that our children and their children can have something to inherit and get to experience this beauty,” Laka added.