KZN’s Wildlife Rancher of the Year

Samuel Kgonono has been named the KwaZulu-Natal’s Wildlife Rancher of the Year for 2013 by the KZN chamber of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA).

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“Hard work, dedication, professionalism and tenacity always pay off, as Sam attests,” said WRSA chairperson Karel Landman, at the chamber’s AGM, held at Pongola Game Reserve on 8 October.

“He was the first black professional hunter and outfitter in the country, has learnt to speak five languages, including German, and continues to blaze a trail to the top.”

Kgonono was born in Limpopo, and started his career working on the private reserve Thaba Tholo as a tracker and ranger. Together with Mark Dedekind, he now manages the 10 000ha Mahlalela Game Reserve in KZN.

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“I am grateful to Mark Dedekind for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself. I am proud to be part of a great partnership and the manager of such a beautiful reserve,” said Kgonono at the awards ceremony.

“My family was very much against my decision to leave Limpopo and move to Zululand, but their eyes where filled with tears of joy and pride when I told them I had won the award.”

Kgonono will compete for the national title in April 2014.