Celebrating 50 years of conservation with the EWT and the Jocks of the Bushveld
We swapped our vellies for formal wear last week, and wow was it worth it!
Brett Horley in a bow tie is not a common occurrence, but last week the rare occasion presented itself when we were all-too-honoured to have been invited to the prestigious Bush Legends Dinner celebrating 50 years of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) through our valued connection with our many-year repeat guests, the Jocks of the Bushveld.
"Our first soiree into the bush was mid-2017 - into the Timbavati. There, we connected with Mr. Brenden Pienaar - a true legend of the bush - and as he expertly carved a fire stick with his knife, wrapped some mopane twine around his stick he had just crafted, and guided our young, naïve little Jocks as they furiously rubbed their sticks. There was fire!
This is where it all began. I remember Brenden telling stories around that fire at Piggy Pan, with eight young men transfixed. We HAD A BLAST. The Jocks were now connected with Brenden; the rest is history, as they say."
- Brett recalling some of the earliest memories with the Jocks of the Bushveld in his speech at the Bush Legends Dinner last week.
The Johannesburg event was a collaboration between the Jocks and EWT, bringing 180 people together in the name of conservation. Getting suited up to honour the incredible work being done by our friends in this community was a pleasure, and to address the audience and speak about our history with the Jocks and our thoughts on conservation issues was a privilege.
We have a long history planning annual safari getaways for these guys and have facilitated some incredible support for conservation through our connections with Grant Beverley and Marnus Roodbol at the EWT.
"Byron and the Jocks of the Bushveld, we have had some brilliant times out in the bush. Laughs and scares, the best of times, but each Jock has always been extremely passionate about conservation. So, we organised Grant Beverley to do a wild dog presentation, spend 24 hours with the group and talk about everything wild dogs.
The Jocks of the Bushveld made a serious financial contribution to the EWT wild dog project, and this was the beginning of where we are tonight. Another cricket game in Johannesburg, another rendezvous in Kruger National Park, and here we are!"
Sharing our network is a primary motivation for what we do, and being able to connect the legends at Lowveld Trails and Tanda Tula and share in this extraordinary evening was exemplary. Thank you for the opportunity to be in the company of these conservationists, to share thoughts and learn from inspirations in the field. Thank you to our friends at Aha Hotels & Lodges for sponsoring a table and some great prizes. And to all the surprising and familiar faces we got to reconnect with and reflect with - what a treat!
"We need solutions, we need to support those on the frontline who do the actual protecting in the middle of the day and the middle of the night. The field rangers putting their lives on the frontline; the regional and section rangers; the organisations helping and assisting; EWT, GKEPF, SAWC - we need collaboration, we need passion, and we need leadership. We need evenings like this to help, to inspire, to remind, and to instil in us the desire to take action. That is how we got here, and that is why we are here."
- Brett concluding his introductory speech on the night.
We left feeling full of renewed hope and motivation, humbled, and honoured. And ready to return to khakis!