Xolani Nicholas Funda is the Chief Ranger of the Kruger National Park. Rangers working in the KNP refer to it as ‘the beast’. With a size of 19 485km² and temperatures that soar to a blistering 50°C, working in the field is not for the faint-hearted. Rangers work up to 21 days in the bush under these harsh conditions, without the luxuries many of us take for granted, and away from their families and loved ones. Rangers are operating on a 24/7 basis, being pushed to their limits by this savage onslaught that is rhino poaching. While Xolani’s position has elevated to Chief Ranger, his heart is still with the rangers working in field. Xolani is not in the field as much as previously, which means he is able to enjoy warm meals and a soft bed to sleep on. However, Xolani never forgets the ranger in the field that has sacrificed everything, full knowing they can be killed in the bush by ruthless poachers, all to protect South Africa’s wildlife. One thing is certain in these terrible poaching times – field rangers are an irreplaceable force.
What are you most passionate about?
My work as a Ranger
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I saved a tractor from either rolling or causing more damage after the driver jumped off of the running tractor because the brakes failed. This happened at Cwebe Nature Reserve
What makes you angry?
Lies and dishonesty
If you inherited an acre of land what would you do with it?
Build a rhino sanctuary
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
More than 20 pairs
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Phutu and Amasi (sour milk)
How would people communicate in a perfect world?
What do you work toward in your free time?
If you woke up and had 300 unread emails and could only answer 30 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
Work related emails
Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful.
Flowers, toddlers and wild cats
Have you used plastic bags for your shopping in the last two weeks?
What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
Start to save the environment from homes, villages / townships, municipality, province, national and international.
For more on the amazing people working to save our rhino’s, read about the Rhino Conservation Awards which have been held annually since 2012 in celebration of those that continue to fight in the rhino poaching war.