Grahame Thompson is a tourism consultant based in Plettenberg Bay. He has worked with the Plett Tourism Association on several projects.
His areas of expertise include:
- Facilitating product viability
- Facilitating environmental impact studies
- Facilitating product development
- Engaging with key stakeholders
Grahame has also published two significant books focused on the Garden Route:
- The Definitive Guide Book to the Garden Route
- At the Waterhole – Anecdotes & Reflections out in the African wilderness
HOW GRAHAME CAN HELP
THE TEMBE ELEPHANTS
First and foremost, was my discovery deep in the Sihungwane sand forest, that a small relic herd of bull elephants had survived against all odds and the holocaust of the ivory hunting of the late 1800’s. They represented the last free ranging elephants recorded in Kwa Zulu Natal for nearly 50 years. After two years of endless patrols and research, I confirmed the presence of a small breeding herd as well, thus establishing the possibility of creating a protected area for the survivors, Ten years later, the Tembe Elephant Park was officially proclaimed and today with numbers in excess of 200 individuals, they represent the biggest tuskers roaming the savannah woodlands of Africa.
KAOKOVELD – HOW CAN I TELL YOU
For those who have explored the desert regions of northern Namibia, more especially the Kaokoveld and Damaraland, they will recall great beauty and utter remoteness. I first visited the area in the early 1990’s and was immediately captivated by the endless magic of the landscapes, the desert elephants, the black rhino and the nomadic Himba tribe and instantly became determined to be part of it all. Twelve months later I returned with a very motely and hastily assembled film crew, a battered short wheelbase Landrover and the speculative financial backing of a Sandton based venture capitalist. Although I had enlisted the support of Blythe Loutit and her NPO Save the Rhino Trust Namibia to assist us with tracking the elusive desert elephants, it was almost two months of endless trekking before we were actually able to locate and capture a small bachelor herd on film. The black rhino proved even more elusive and it was a further four weeks later when we caught up with a cow and calf in the late afternoon and captured the sequence on our 16mm Rolex. We used the slow- motion version of this scene to play out at the end of the documentary, using the emotive Cat Stevens song “How can I tell you” as the musical score. The documentary was premiered on M.Net channel one Sunday evening and some months later the Discovery Channel bought the global distribution rights and screened the film in 92 counties. We repaid our venture capitalist in full, but sadly Blythe passed away from cancer sometime months later. Her beloved Save the Rhino Trust continues with its amazing work in northern Namibia
It has been my privilege to accompany many hundreds of people out on wilderness trails in the Hwange and Chobe National Parks, and also in the NE Tuli and Umfolozi game reserves. I have noted with deep satisfaction and amazement how this exposure to the natural world has a deep and lasting impact on those souls who have ventured forth. On reflection, it has not been the excitement of tracking a herd of elephant on foot, nor the adrenalin rush when encountering a lion in dense thickets. Its more related to the intangible, the profound silence when walking through the heat of the African noon, the inner thoughts which arise when gazing into the flames of the evening campfire, the magic of the African night. It all about a venture into the interior, a venture deep into one’s souls and spirit.
Of all the people I have taken into the wilderness, there is one person who stands out and who seemed more enriched and deeply appreciative of the experience. He was a man well into his seventies with greying hair and a presence of spirit that was amazing to behold. His middle name was Rolihlahla and he had just recently been released from Pollsmoor prison after 27 long years of confinement. After our formal introductions, he beckoned me over with a smile and pronounced in simple terms “Please call me Nelson when we are walking out in the wilds, your Zulu pronunciation of Rolihlahla is a little disconcerting”