The Kruger National Park's (KNP) Nxanatseni South regional ranger, Louis Olivier, was overcome with emotion at the KNP ranger corps annual general meeting (AGM) in March this year.
Louis celebrates his 60th birthday this year and will have exactly one month short of 40 years of service to the Park at the end of 2008. He was more than mildly surprised by the special gesture his colleagues made at the meeting.
"When Phin Nobela, chairman of this year's event, asked if I would say a word of welcome, I accepted" but despite "knowing that it would be the last time I attend an AGM", Louis was not prepared for the sudden rush of emotion as he addressed the meeting,
"I cried with commitment," he admits.
That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the AGM that culminated in another emotional highlight when, after the meeting, as Louis left the building, his colleagues formed a guard of honour, and each one paid tribute to the long-time ranger. There were lots of tears as it dawned on Louis that "my entire adult life in the Kruger National Park will soon be something of the past."