Cathy Dreyer, who is affectionately known as the “Rhino Whisperer” will be Kruger National Park’s first head ranger. Picture: Supplied.
Cathy Dreyer, who is affectionately known as the “Rhino Whisperer” will be Kruger National Park’s first head ranger. Picture: Supplied.

’Rhino Whisperer’ is Kruger National Park’s first female head ranger

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Apr 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Kruger National Park (KNP) has made history by appointing its first female head ranger, Cathy Dreyer, who is affectionately known as the “Rhino Whisperer”.

The SA National Parks (SANParks) announced Dreyer’s appointment yesterday and said the new head ranger is expected to start her new position on May 1.

Dreyer is replacing Ken Maggs, who was with SANParks for nearly four decades before he retired.

Dreyer serves as the conservation manager at Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, where she started her career, responsible for both terrestrial and marine areas.

Dreyer said she was overjoyed at being the successful candidate as head ranger at the KNP.

“I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity, particularly at a time when the Kruger National Park is vigorously and earnestly working on its turnaround plan.

“Leadership is a privilege and I look forward to working alongside the dedicated, committed and passionate ranger corps and conservation management teams in the park,” Dreyer said,

Before she moved to AENP, she was based in the KNP contributing to the protection and conservation of black rhino in the Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ).

During Dreyer’s time at the KNP, she co-ordinated and participated in the implementation of aerial surveillance and was also instrumental in drawing up protection strategies and patrol tactics aimed at protecting black rhino in the KNP.

Prior to this, Dreyer was employed as the conservation manager for the Great Fish River Nature Reserve in Eastern Cape, home to one of the key black rhino populations in South Africa.

Managing executive of the KNP, Gareth Coleman, congratulated Dreyer and said the team was looking forward to welcoming her back to the KNP.

“She is no stranger to the challenges faced by the ranger corps in conservation management and fighting wildlife crime. She brings with her a wealth of conservation management experience and in conserving rhinos in particular. She has proven herself as a dedicated conservationist and a law enforcement officer,” Coleman said.

The managing executive added that SANParks was preoccupied with developing effective management strategies to protect the rhino population and to more effectively manage conservation and wildlife crime in the park in general.

“A turnaround plan which addresses these and other key security, infrastructure and human capital challenges is being widely canvassed and consulted upon. Cathy will be key in driving these changes. We know that she will bring new energy, ideas and passion to our dedicated team within the park,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dreyer has received several achievement awards at SANParks as well as the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa in London in 2016, making her the first South African and female recipient.

According to SANParks, the Tusk Conservation Award is given to an individual who has been judged to be an emerging leader in conservation in Africa, and in recognition of their outstanding contribution and considerable successes in their chosen field.

The Star

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