As Jan Oelofse is layed to rest by his family, friends and colleagues today, many have taken a moment to remember the man who revolutionised game capture and played a crucial role in kick-starting the successful reintroduction of game species to Africa’s wild.
Oelofse, who passed away at the age of 79 this month, became one of Namibia’s and southern Africa’s top conservationists and game specialists, after he devised a technique to capture large numbers of game safely and quickly.
This method proved to be the forerunner for the game industry in South Africa and Namibia today. It made it possible for land to be repopulated with wild animals, where previously farmers had no choice but to farm with cattle or other small stock.
His legacy also includes a stint as one of the prime animal handlers on the classic John Wayne movie, Hatari!, which was released in 1962. Then already, it was obvious that Oelofse was destined to spend his life working closely with wildlife and in nature.
In the past decades, Oelofse worked for the Natal Parks board, before relocating back to Namibia, where he eventually opened an animal sanctuary and lodge, the Okonjati Game Reserve and Mount Etjo Safari Lodge.
Members of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) paid tribute in a special message to Oelofse’s family and colleagues. A minute of silence would be observed to ‘pay tribute to an amazing personality and key stakeholder of Namibia’s tourism industry”.
According to a Travel News Namibia article, published in the June/July 2008, one of the philosophies Oelofse lived by is that “life should be lived to the full. You must put back more than you take out …”.
His legacy proves that he remained true to that philosophy.