From a teen pro-cyclist to a high-flying corporate account manager, this passionate adventurer is making his mark in the world one mountain top, game reserve, and sea at a time. This all in the name of charity, raising funds for rhino conservation, feeding schemes, and the like. His charity efforts are a force to be reckoned with, as is he.
What is your next challenge?
I am writing a new book called “Taming the Beast, the power of facing your fears,” a sequel to my autobiography “Determination.” It tells the story of my ride for rhinos in the Kariega big five game reserve. I am also looking into taking a team to Mana Pools in Zimbabwe where the “great tusker” elephants reside to raise support for the anti-poaching teams in the area who are responsible for the protection of these endangered elephants. I am planning something like the Kariega expedition where I rode my mountain bike for thirty-six hours to raise support for the rhinos and anti-poaching unit.
Where do you draw your grit and resilience from when faced with danger and uncertainty?
Knowing that what I am doing is making a difference to someone’s life gives me the courage to carry on. Quitting is not an option for me. People are facing tremendous challenges and need all the inspiration possible.
Have you always had a passion for wildlife?
As a youngster I spent a lot of time in the Klaserie game reserve which fuelled my love for nature and wildlife. I remember golden sunsets with great herds of wildebeest and being shown the tracks of passing lions and elephants.
Do you believe some headway has been made in the battle against rhino poaching?
Yes, particularly with the assistance of trained anti-poaching units and modern technology like infrared cameras and drones, but there have also been some great tragedies of late where large numbers of elephant and rhino have been killed in neighbouring countries, so it is an ongoing battle.
What learnings came out of writing your first book?
Writing a book takes a huge amount of hard work, focus and dedication, but it is also extremely rewarding once you’re finished.
What do you love most about living in South Africa?
The incredible quality of life and utterly amazing experiences it offers the adventurous. I love the hot weather, clear blue skies, and diversity of nature.
Have there been any silver linings for you that have come out of the global pandemic?
Absolutely. It was during lockdown that I came up with the Kariega idea, where we ended up raising nearly R500 000 for the endangered rhinos, and those families in the area affected by Covid.
If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
For inspiring people to believe in themselves and realise that nothing they are facing is too big. To be remembered for being the oldest man to climb Table Mountain unassisted would be awesome too, and a great metaphor for finishing strong.
What is the ethos you try to live your life by?
No giant is too big to face.
You can order Jamie’s latest book at www.jamiemarais.com