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The Great Hunters

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Harry Wolhuter | The Lion Killer

"Tall, spare, but powerfully built; purposeful, for all his quiet voice and unassuming manner, he seemed emblematical of the best type of pioneer hunter." This was Lt. Colonel Stevenson - Hamilton's estimate of Wolhuter when they first met in 1902. The Colonel had just been made Warden of the newly - reproclaimed Sabi Game Reserve, and he needed game rangers to build up and patrol the Lowveld morgen in which the game had been severely reduced during the recent Anglo- Boer War. In Wolhuter, who had in previous years embarked upon big - game shooting trips in that very area, he found just the right man. Until Wolhuter's retirement 44 years later, they got on well together. " One could have no better chief," Wolhuter wrote.

Born in Beaufort West, Cape, on the 14th February 1877, Wolhuter lived a life of freedom in the veld. From the time he could first remember he was a hunter, with a catapult, an air gun, finally graduating to an old muzzle loader. He and his friends made their own gunpowder and percussion caps from match -heads. At 14 he left school and started work in a trading store in Maraisburg, Transvaal. He later became a shepherd, a big - game hunter, and, during the Anglo -Boer War a member of the colourful band of mounted soldiers known as Steinacker's Horse.

In game ranging Wolhuter found his true vocation. During his period of service he had the satisfaction of seeing his reserve, renamed The Kruger National Park, grow into, perhaps, the best - known and most popular wild life sanctuary in the world. He wrote: " My long experience has taught me that, thrilling through the pleasures of shooting undoubtedly are, infinitely greater and far more lasting pleasure and interest can be obtained from the observation and study of wild animals, unafraid and uninterfered with, in their natural haunts; and I have never regretted my metamorphosis from hunter to guardian!"

A wound incurred after being dragged off by a lion, together with severe bouts of malaria, permanently affected his health. He retired in 1946. His Memories of a Game Ranger written in a most readable and modest manner were brought out in 1948 by The Wild Life Protection Society of South Africa. It is from this book that these extracts are taken.