Retired animal scientist, elephant specialist & ornithologist with a career that spanned 37 years at SANParks, meet Dr Ian "Masthulele" Whyte.
Ian has published papers on managing Kruger National Park's elephant population, the value of elephants vs biodiversity, elephants as a keystone species, different contraceptive methods, and translocation issues, to name a few. This episode is a conversation with a LEGEND.
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Dr Whyte was one of Brett's earliest influencers and idols, literally "living the wild life" (as is the title of his latest book) as he shadowed iconic wildlife vets conducting groundbreaking work in the 1970s, gained one qualification after the next as a true large mammal specialist, and was integral to the survival and redistribution of oxpeckers in South Africa.
Take a listen to the intro in this recording for a full list of Ian's accomplishments and fascinating career, which all kicked off after he was a self-proclaimed "hopeless case" as a school boy and entered the wildlife research field right at the bottom after being identified during his cricket practice at Skukuza!
Fast forward a few years and Ian and his wife, Merle, were raising their children in the Kruger National Park, following prides of lions and fitting radio collars to track their movement, behaviour, and their impact on other species. From a caravan parked under shady trees, for weeks at a time. A life that would feed any aspiring game ranger's dreams! Working with the likes of Dr Eddie Young, Dr Butch Smuts, and Dr Anthony Hall-Martin.
"Adventure every day and one of the highlights of my life" - Dr Whyte remembers his career among these huge names in wildlife with great fondness.
Ian has been a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's African Elephant Specialist Group since 1992, and a professional member of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) since 1988. He qualified as a pilot in the early 1990s and became a published author along the way. In honour of his contribution, one of Kruger's legendary super tuskers was even named after Ian, who is referred to in the local language as ‘Masthulele'.
The book has limited availability, so get in touch with Merle on email@example.com to order a copy directly or find a few right here in Hoedspruit at High Tea With Elephants. We gave away some signed copies to some dear friends, followers, and colleagues.
A huge thanks to Ian for navigating Zoom and joining us online to get this conversation recorded!