Kruger National Park mourns two tragic losses

A former KNP executive director and a former Mooiplaas section ranger have left a massive gap in Kruger conservation circles following their recent passing.

It was with great sadness that the world of conservation learned of the recent passing of two giants of the Kruger National Park (KNP).

The deaths of the park’s former executive director, Dr Salomon Joubert, and long-time Mooiplaas section ranger Johann Oelofse have left an irreplaceable gap in the hearts of loved ones, friends and former colleagues.

Affectionately known as ‘Doc Solly’, Joubert passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday at the age of 81.

He was known as the KNP’s greatest living stalwart, having worked in the park since 1964. He began his career as a section ranger for Klipkoppies east of Letaba and became the park’s executive director in 1984, a position he held until his retirement 10 years later.

Joubert focused his multifaceted talents and unbridled commitment on scientific services and research, and was responsible for many of the policies and planning implemented during his tenure.

His long-time colleague and friend Joep Stevens, the Kruger’s former general manager of revenue and yields, mourned the death of his old friend and colleague. “Doc Solly was extremely passionate about the KNP and knew it better than any other person alive,” he said.

“His passing came as a massive shock to the many people who knew him. Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences are with his family during this time of emptiness and longing.”

Joubert leaves behind his wife, Bets, and his daughter, son and their families.

A few days prior to his passing, on September 9, Oelofse passed after a series of severe setbacks to his health.

Oelofse worked in game capture as a wilderness trails guide and later as a section ranger at Tshokwane and Mooiplaas, where he spent many happy years.

He retired several years ago, but never relinquished his ardent support and love of the Kruger.

As with Joubert, Stevens was also close to Oelofse.

“Our heartfelt condolences to Jocelyn and Johann’s loved ones for this immense loss you have suffered. Rest in peace, dear Johann. May you fly over the beautiful plains and mountains around Mopani, the area you so adored.”

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