Our staff

Neil Bone

neil boneNeil has always had a passion for the African bush. He started his career in Zululand as a professional safari guide and then moved on to reserve management with an 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. 

Aby Spanton 

Aby new picOriginally from the UK, Aby moved to South Africa after a trip to Namibia in 2011 which lead her to leave her corporate finance job in England and train as a field guide in South Africa! Aby has since gained experience in running a conservation volunteer programme and is excited to be working alongside husband Neil once again as they live and work at Colchester Zoo’s UmPhafa Reserve! 

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 49
Birds 186
Reptiles 24
Amphibians 10
Trees 62