July 14, 2022

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

No items found.
July 14, 2022

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

Do you remember the first time you encountered one of the Big 5 on foot? What was it like?

I remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget that day.

I was around 16 years old and was lucky enough to be visiting Leopard Hills with my brother and parents. We did a bush walk with Duncan along the Sand River. We could here the distant chirps of Red Billed Oxpeckers. While we made approached about 60 meters in front of us 5 buffalo bulls popped out of the bush. The goose bumps started running along my skin, heartbeat starts to quicken and I am in my element.

Any documentaries or books on wildlife and conservation that you found inspiring and would recommend?

Brothers in Blood is my favourite documentary about Lions of the Sabi Sands. I was very fortunate to grow up with the coalition they talk about.

Don’t run whatever you do by Peter Allison

My Lions Heart by Gareth Patterson

Saving the last rhinos by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has some of the best anti-poaching units in Africa. Does their work impact you in your daily life?

Of course. It allows us to see these endangered animals on a regular basis. What they do is very important for the future of wildlife.

July 14, 2022

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

Do you remember the first time you encountered one of the Big 5 on foot? What was it like?

I remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget that day.

I was around 16 years old and was lucky enough to be visiting Leopard Hills with my brother and parents. We did a bush walk with Duncan along the Sand River. We could here the distant chirps of Red Billed Oxpeckers. While we made approached about 60 meters in front of us 5 buffalo bulls popped out of the bush. The goose bumps started running along my skin, heartbeat starts to quicken and I am in my element.

Any documentaries or books on wildlife and conservation that you found inspiring and would recommend?

Brothers in Blood is my favourite documentary about Lions of the Sabi Sands. I was very fortunate to grow up with the coalition they talk about.

Don’t run whatever you do by Peter Allison

My Lions Heart by Gareth Patterson

Saving the last rhinos by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has some of the best anti-poaching units in Africa. Does their work impact you in your daily life?

Of course. It allows us to see these endangered animals on a regular basis. What they do is very important for the future of wildlife.

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

Words by
SIana Editor
July 14, 2022
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For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

Do you remember the first time you encountered one of the Big 5 on foot? What was it like?

I remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget that day.

I was around 16 years old and was lucky enough to be visiting Leopard Hills with my brother and parents. We did a bush walk with Duncan along the Sand River. We could here the distant chirps of Red Billed Oxpeckers. While we made approached about 60 meters in front of us 5 buffalo bulls popped out of the bush. The goose bumps started running along my skin, heartbeat starts to quicken and I am in my element.

Any documentaries or books on wildlife and conservation that you found inspiring and would recommend?

Brothers in Blood is my favourite documentary about Lions of the Sabi Sands. I was very fortunate to grow up with the coalition they talk about.

Don’t run whatever you do by Peter Allison

My Lions Heart by Gareth Patterson

Saving the last rhinos by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has some of the best anti-poaching units in Africa. Does their work impact you in your daily life?

Of course. It allows us to see these endangered animals on a regular basis. What they do is very important for the future of wildlife.

Project Feature
• Issue no. 1

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

Words by
SIana Editor
December 1, 2022
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For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

July 14, 2022

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

Do you remember the first time you encountered one of the Big 5 on foot? What was it like?

I remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget that day.

I was around 16 years old and was lucky enough to be visiting Leopard Hills with my brother and parents. We did a bush walk with Duncan along the Sand River. We could here the distant chirps of Red Billed Oxpeckers. While we made approached about 60 meters in front of us 5 buffalo bulls popped out of the bush. The goose bumps started running along my skin, heartbeat starts to quicken and I am in my element.

Any documentaries or books on wildlife and conservation that you found inspiring and would recommend?

Brothers in Blood is my favourite documentary about Lions of the Sabi Sands. I was very fortunate to grow up with the coalition they talk about.

Don’t run whatever you do by Peter Allison

My Lions Heart by Gareth Patterson

Saving the last rhinos by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has some of the best anti-poaching units in Africa. Does their work impact you in your daily life?

Of course. It allows us to see these endangered animals on a regular basis. What they do is very important for the future of wildlife.

A drive to remember: an interview with Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills

Words by
SIana Editor
November 19, 2022
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For those who love nature, there’s nothing comparable to seeing wildlife in the African bush. It’s a truly transformative and life-changing experience. Follow our journey as we explore the African bush through the eyes of the best rangers on the continent.

Today, we are interviewing Stuart Buy, ranger at Leopard Hills to find out what inspired his career choice, the first time he encountered one of the Big 5 on foot, his most memorable sightings, and who gets to name world-famous leopards of Sabi Sands.

As experienced safari goers, we have had some remarkable sightings over the years, but Stuart specialises in taking that experience to a different level. He takes you on a journey that includes everything from tracking animals to learning fascinating stories about every big cat's life. Every game drive becomes an episode from Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties. His knowledge, professionalism, and storytelling ability never cease to amaze us.

BOOK YOUR STAY NOW

What inspired you to become a game ranger?

As a child born in Johannesburg, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Kruger National Park on a regular basis, it was there where I fell in love with nature and the animals. I had the best two role models (Duncan and Raymond) that showed me the way and taught me everything I know, to watch them do what they love and to see the passion which inspired me to follow through with my dream of becoming a field guide.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Waking up every morning excited to see what the bush has in store for me and my guests.

A wise man once told me the day I don’t wake up excited for drive is the day I hang up my boots, and after 7 years of living the dream there hasn’t been one day that I’ve woken up without butterflies in my belly.

What do you do on an average day as a game ranger?

Wake up to the sounds of lions, leopards or hyenas calling. Get ready and head up to morning coffee where we meet the guests between 5:30 and 6:00.

Morning drive for about three hours or so.

A bush walk with guests either at the end of morning drive or after a nice hearty breakfast.

One of my favourite things to do is log what we have seen on the drives in Leopard Hills Sightings books. (These books go way back to some of the first drives at Leopard Hills, you can find them in the library)

Check vehicles and prepare for afternoon drive

Say farewell to guests and do airstrip pick ups or drop offs

We normally go on break for a few hours during midday

At around 3 we are back and getting ready for the afternoon drive.

Meet guests for high tea at 4 and head into the bush once everyone is ready

Back around 7 and set a time for dinner.

Dinner starts. Another favourite of mine is joining guests and spending time with them.

In Sabi Sands Game Reserve you have trackers. How important is the relationship between a ranger and a tracker? And how does having a tracker impact guests' experience?  

There needs to be a brotherly bond between us. We spend around 6 to 8 hours together and the bond and trust needs to be there. He is a very important part of drive as he helps to spread the workload with guests. I want a tracker who wants to interact with guests as much as I do. A guide and tracker team needs to be incredibly tight. Guests love it when we involve them in our tracking sessions and a tracker is the best person to get them involved, the reward of finding an animal we have tracked is incredible.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to do a safari for the first time?

DO IT! You won’t be disappointed. The bush bug is waiting to get you hooked on safari’s. The smiling faces of the Leopard Hills Family are waiting to welcome you to our home.


What has been the most memorable sighting you have ever had?

Being on foot with these animals is beyond magical. I have been lucky enough to experience a female leopard and her cubs on foot.

Myself and a tracker were following their tracks when I found them. At a distance I stood and viewed while she approached me. Around 15 meters she lay down in a little opening and called for the cubs. To be part of their lives where they trust in us to not be a threat is breathtaking.

Do you get attached to certain animals? And how hard-hitting is it when a lion or a leopard you have been following for years dies?

Of course we do. These animals become part of our life. I see these animals more than I see my own family back in Johannesburg. We all have favourites and we definitely get attached. We try not too but look at how beautiful or handsome they all are. We cannot help it.

It is hard to see them disappear or vanish without a trace but you can only think of all the amazing memories they gave us and our guests.

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is renowned for its unique and incredible leopard sightings where each one is known by name. Who gets to name them and have you ever had a chance to do it?

We try to name our leopards in a way that is suits their personality or somewhere where they have spent a lot of time growing up. So each lodge in the Western Sector will bring a name and all the Head Rangers/Guides will meet up and try find the name that best fits that individual.

At Leopard Hills before every game drive you ask guests what would they like you to look for. What is the most anticipated animal guests look forward to seeing the most?

For first time guests they generally request zebra, giraffe and lion.

What are the rarest animals you have seen in the reserve?

I have been lucky enough to see my top two rarest animals in the Sabi Sands that guests request to see the most which is Pangolin and Aardvark.

At Leopard Hills guests can also go on a walking safari. Do rangers need a special qualification for that and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Yes we are all very qualified to do walking safari’s. There are a whole bunch of different qualifications that we need from shooting assessments to over 100 hours in foot in the bush.

Do you remember the first time you encountered one of the Big 5 on foot? What was it like?

I remember it like it was yesterday and will never forget that day.

I was around 16 years old and was lucky enough to be visiting Leopard Hills with my brother and parents. We did a bush walk with Duncan along the Sand River. We could here the distant chirps of Red Billed Oxpeckers. While we made approached about 60 meters in front of us 5 buffalo bulls popped out of the bush. The goose bumps started running along my skin, heartbeat starts to quicken and I am in my element.

Any documentaries or books on wildlife and conservation that you found inspiring and would recommend?

Brothers in Blood is my favourite documentary about Lions of the Sabi Sands. I was very fortunate to grow up with the coalition they talk about.

Don’t run whatever you do by Peter Allison

My Lions Heart by Gareth Patterson

Saving the last rhinos by Grant Fowlds and Graham Spence

The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has some of the best anti-poaching units in Africa. Does their work impact you in your daily life?

Of course. It allows us to see these endangered animals on a regular basis. What they do is very important for the future of wildlife.

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