This is an autobiographical account of a career in conservation and of an abiding love affair with Spirit of the Wilderness, a Piper Super Cub, two-seater, light aircraft. It tells of a partnership between man and machine which proved invaluable in countless campaigns to conserve wildlife and wilderness areas in southern Africa.
A chance encounter in 1953 with Ian Player, South Africa’s greatest conservationist, led to a career which still continues after nearly sixty years.
There are detailed and absorbing accounts of stewardship during the 1960s and 1970s of some of South Africa’s best loved and most beautiful reserves; Lake St Lucia, iMfolozi, Ndumo, and later the Gorongosa National Park, Zinave and the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. There are tales of hair-raising episodes and some serious mishaps at the controls of Spirit of the Wilderness, and on the ground, the author records what he was privileged to learn from the knowledge, experience and wisdom of indigenous game guards and local communities in South Africa and Mozambique.
We encounter a huge diversity of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine, some of it now perilously endangered, and also a remarkable cast of fellow eminent conservationists, writers, filmmakers and sangomas, as well as soldiers and bandits from two wars in Mozambique. We are introduced also to that country’s then president Samora Machel, with whom Paul came to have an intriguingly cordial relationship.