If you have been to a game reserve, you would have probably noticed the men and women who go the extra mile to make guests feel comfortable.
Clad in their ranger gear, they do their best to educate people about the joys and pitfalls of the wild.
Behind the scenes, away from the tourist rush, they are in superhero mode, making sure that the animals, its environment and its people are safe from any “baddies.”
The baddies often being the poachers.
Cuan Mcgeorge is just one of the many rangers who makes an indelible mark on the environment.
With a career spanning over two decades, he currently works as a marine ranger at the Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay in the Overberg area of the Western Cape. It is home to the largest successful breeding colonies of African Penguin in the world.
The 48-year-old’s passion started from the tender age of 5.
He was on a safari trip to Zambezi River, where he learned about Operation Noah, a wildlife rescue operation on the Zambezi River.
“I was fortunate to be exposed to the way of the wild from an early age, having been mentored by some of the most interesting people in Africa.
“Just being able to play a part in sustaining the habitat and making a difference in helping the environment and its species brings joy to me,” he said.
Mcgeorge starts his day early. At the crack of dawn, he oversees the ecological status at the reserve, making his way to the boardwalk to check on the penguin colony.
Should there be any injuries, the penguins will be stabilised and taken for rehabilitation.
At midday, he goes on patrols. Some of the patrols entail the tracking leopard and caracal to see whether they had any negative effect on the environment.
Through his daily routine, the illicit activities, mainly through poaching, weighs heavy on him.
Over 20-30 abalone poachers threaten the ocean, with many of them coming to steal in big groups.
Also threatened is the west coast rock lobster and many fish species due to overfishing.
“Marine resources are really being exploited. It is sad and we are trying our best to do what we can to make a change. With the help of the community and visible policing, we are able to reduce the efforts,” he said.
When asked where he sees himself in the next 10 years, he said: “I want to be a motivational speaker who shares the importance of biodiversity and how we can protect the environment.”