In Horn of the Hunter, Robert Ruark recounts the first time he heard a lions roar: Harry said, “If you wait a second you can hear him. It’s a cross between a cough and the first mutter of a summer thunderstorm. Now. Hear him? We call it ngruma, wonderful word for ‘roar’- ngruma.” The speaker was none other than the legendary Harry Selby, a man whom I met long ago as he attempted to instruct me on the finer points of being a Professional Hunter.
Background: February 2002
I visited Safaris Club International’s annual convention. Tucked away in a quiet end booth were two young men sitting at a small round table, watching the world stroll by. Their booth bore the simple signage “Erindi.” I had contacted them via email and arranged to visit with them regarding their first year operation.
The manager, Paul Joubert, and newly minted Professional Hunter Corne Kruger were seemingly barely out of their teens, but they were old enough to legally drink. A better pair of honest, straightforward and well-informed young men would be hard to find. They answered my questions about the game reserve they were representing and a deal was struck to visit them for two weeks that July. The size of their reserve was a staggering 268 square mile block of land.
For the ensuing five years my family and I were a part of the Joubert and Kruger family enterprises. Paul, Corne and I developed a lifetime friendship. I left Africa in 2006 after two and a half decades exploring the Africa that was. Remote areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Southwest Africa, (now Namibia), Zambia, Tanzania, Congo, along with brief forays into war torn Mozambique and Angola were all known to me.
January 2016 found my wife and I in Texas for the birth of our granddaughter. Corne was in nearby San Antonio at a high caliber promotional affair. We arrived at the Austin airport to be greeted by the family, and a very pregnant daughter advising we were immediately heading home to meet up with Corne. My daughter was in labor! After unloading our belongings, including grandson, and briefly greeting Corne parked in the driveway, the new parents to be were off to the delivery room!
Corne, Rita and I caught up over an early home prepared dinner. Our grandson, age thirty months, took to his expanded family eagerly. Several hours later he was put down for a nap. Corne and I talked about the past, the present and the future. Corne then floored me, “Why don’t you and Rita come visit us this year? Stay 3 or 4 months. I know Paul would love to have you guys return also.” And that, my fellow readers, is just an offer you cannot refuse!
Paul Joubert is now the owner of Erindi Game Reserve, a kingdom of nearly 360 square miles of contiguous wild Africa. A spectacular life experience with more activities than can be done in one visit. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, black and white rhinos, elephants, rare African wild dogs, and a plethora of plains game with associated conservation programs addressing todays wildlife all flourish in this world famous place. See Erindi Game Reserve @ Erindi.com.
Never one to take it easy, Corne Kruger has his own operation, Omujeve Hunting Safaris @ OmujeveHuntingSafaris.com, spanning nearly 2 million acres of concessions and privately owned reserves. By the by, Corne is also the Dallas Safaris Club’s Outfitter of the year for 2015. Boy I think these guys will do OK when they finally grow up!
So grab your favorite beverage, relax after your day’s hard labors, and follow along as we seek to journey into the past. “You can’t go home again, back home to the escapes of time and memory…”. Well maybe, just maybe, for one last time we can!