Our staff

Neil Bone

neil boneNeil has always had a passion for the African bush. He started his wildlife career in Zululand as a professional safari guide. He then moved on to game and reserve management with a particular emphasis on anti-poaching. In the last few years he has worked in Namibia working on projects to improve human and wildlife conflict. Most recently he has been back in South Africa again working in reserve management and assisting his wife Aby with a conservation volunteer programme. He brings a wealth of experience to his position at UmPhafa and is dedicated to the development of the project and the continuous conservation of the wildlife and staff development. 

Jandre Smuts

Jandre-for-webJandre has always had a passion for the natural world and achieved a degree in Zoology and Geography, with an Honours in Wildlife management, before deciding to take on a hands-on career within the game industry. After training as a nature guide, he became a game ranger on a private reserve in Limpopo but showed considerable aptitude and soon progressed to the role of Wildlife and Reserve Manager. His career progressed through a number of different management level roles, gaining experience in a comprehensive range of different fields before moving to Swaziland to manage a camp on Mkhaya Game Reserve with his wife, Sarah. Jandre has become a solid, valuable member within the UmPhafa team, bringing the benefit of all his experience to the project.

Sarah Smuts


Originally from the UK, Sarah came to South Africa in 2006 to pursue a life-long dream to work in the African bush and never looked back! She very quickly achieved a level 3 field guide certificate and took on a role as Head Field Guide at a lodge in Amakhala Reserve where she met her now husband, Jandre.  Sarah proved herself to have an exceptional ability to inspire others which naturally led her into a teaching position, assisting with the training of other nature guides. Looking for new challenges and experiences, Sarah and Jandre travelled to Swaziland to manage a camp at Mkhaya Game Reserve. Sarah has gained experience in a range of different areas within conservation before coming to UmPhafa in early 2013; from working with anti-poaching and game capture units to assisting with surveys of large mammals and carnivores.

 Mike Wood

Mike-Wood-webMike Wood has been with UmPhafa from the very beginning and was in fact here before the reserve. The Woods have lived and farmed the area for generations and so you would be hard pushed to find anyone who knows the area better. With a life-long passionate interest in the conservation of wildlife, Mike moved away from farming and took the position of farm manager with his own farm of Geluk now comprising part of UmPhafa. A fluent Zulu speaker, Mike coordinates all of the maintenance staff in the construction of fences and infrastructure.

Francois Brooks


Francois Brooks joined the UmPhafa team in February 2014. After studying a Diploma in Nature Conservation he undertook a practical year at Addo Elephant National Park where he gained invaluable knowledge with regards to Reserve Management. Francois has a true passion for the African bush and the conservation of its Wildlife. He has fantastic leadership skills and is able to share his knowledge in an interesting and fun way. He is a valued member of the conservation and security team and his assistance with all aspects of the day to day running of the reserve is invaluable.

UmPhafa Field Rangers

Game-guardsUmPhafa employs a number of members from the local community as Field Rangers. They are trained to understand, identify and react to various security issues. Their role includes patrolling the main reserve area and its vast boundaries. They help to locate snares, intruders and monitor on a 24 hour basis high profile species. The rangers are provided with accommodation on the reserve so are therefore available to react to any incidents immediately. They are the eyes and ears out on the ground and also provide our conservation team with valuable information with regards to animal conditions and movements. 

UmPhafa has a wide and diverse range of habitat types, from grassland to bushveld and open woodlands.

Number of species offically recorded on Umphafa

Mammals 48
Birds 143
Reptiles 18
Amphibians 11
Trees 54