Meet Field Ranger Eric Pietersen
Working in what is considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom with some of the world’s most exceptionally diverse fynbos at his doorstep, it’s easy to understand why Eric Pietersen has been happy to call Kogelberg Nature Reserve home for over 16 years.
Eric began working with CapeNature back in 1998 and his love for the outdoors stems back to his youth, while growing up in Grabouw.
“As a child, I grew up on a farm so I used to spend a lot of time outdoors. I grew a love for nature and now enjoy working on the reserve,” says Eric.
A man with a passion for working as a field ranger, Eric takes his duties seriously and is respected amongst his colleagues on the reserve.
“The work of a field ranger is very important. We perform lots of duties such as the monitoring of plants and animals, fighting veld fires, invasive species mapping, infrastructure maintenance, patrols on a regular basis for law enforcement activities, such as illegal hunting methods,” he says.
“One of the most important things on the reserve is to have good camaraderie between colleagues, especially when we are on patrols as we need to look out for each other’s safety.”
It’s not just the ‘bokkies and blommetjies’ that keep Eric interested in biodiversity. He’s spent many hours monitoring black eagles and has experienced some fascinating sightings during his time.
“I enjoy monitoring flora, but it’s especially interesting when we monitor black eagles during the breeding season. It’s absorbing to watch when the parents go out hunting for food, to observe the chicks in the nest and to see them as they take their first flight,” he says.
“Prior to the breeding season a few years ago, I had setup an infrared camera near the nest to determine the types of food the parents were bringing and what sort of diet the birds had. After the season, I went to collect the camera and on one of the pictures I saw that a black eagle had caught a young grey rhebok and brought it to the nest.
“I’ve also seen the ‘Cain and Abel struggle’. I once visited a nest to see whether any eggs had hatched and I found two eagle chicks in the nest. Unfortunately, it appeared that the first-born had pecked the weaker one to death.”
*Thursday 31 July marks World Ranger Day and commemorates rangers killed or injured in the line of duty, as well as celebrates the work rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures.