This pride guides my destiny


Call it fate, destiny, or sheer determination. Rodney Nombekana’s life proves that if it’s meant to be, it will be. He was always drawn to animals. “I became known in my village as the boy with lots and lots of pets,” Nombekana says. Living in Port St Johns, his love for nature flourished amid the unspoilt beauty of the Wild Coast. Even with no career advice to guide him, Nombekana knew there was nothing else he wanted to do but work with animals.

After school, Nombekana enrolled at UNISA to study Nature Conservation. The Endangered Wildlife Trust recognised him as one of the most promising students, triggering a chain of career-shifting moments. With their help, Nombekana qualified as a field guide. He soon became an ambassador for the Kevin Richardson Foundation. Working alongside the famed Lion Whisperer, Nombekana grew closer to the roaming prides, becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect them in their habitat. “Big cats in isolation cannot live,” he says. “It’s an intertwined environment that functions as a whole.” Seeking a larger platform to heighten awareness, Nombekana began photographing his sightings in 2015. “My goal is to make people fall in love with the animals,” he says.

Nombekana’s style as a field guide and photographer works in sync to propel conservation efforts. His safari company, Nombekana Tours, enables people to experience the environment without interfering with it. “There is hope for South African wildlife,” Nombekana affirms. His passion for animals extends further than the plains of game reserves, and he’s never lost sight of it. With his candid images, Nombekana is honouring our national fauna and composing a portrait of a blooming career.