About Tim Driman, aka: Gonondo
Gonondo is the Zulu* name given to Tim by his African staff many years back. It is the generic name given to the “Inyanga”** or medicine person, in a typical, ethnic Zulu village. The Inyanga is highly perceptive, a good psychologist and an excellent judge of behaviour and character. To the rural villagers, these powers are seen as magical or Mtakathi*** powers. (Tim is a fluent Zulu linguist with exceptional knowledge of Zulu ethnic culture and their traditions.)
Tim has grown up spending a lot of time in the bush around South Africa, sometimes venturing as far as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique, paying close attention to the various styles of conservation management found in those areas.
Passionate about wildlife and birds, he grabbed the opportunity, in 1994, to buy into a syndicate which owned a bush camp in the Mziki Share Block scheme (www.mzikishareblock.co.za) nestled between the highly acclaimed Phinda Private Game Reserve, Little ZUKA, Bumbeni and Pumulanga / Thaba Nkosi game reserves in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
In 2003, Tim and a few like-minded conservation proponents, purchased the Pumalanga / Thaba Nkosi private reserve and immediately changed the name to ZUKA and in August 2004, the owners of these reserves decided to create a conservation biosphere by removing the inter-leading fences which separated the properties, and created the Munyawana Game Reserve.
At the same time, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) initiated the Black Rhino Expansion Project in an effort to expand the areas where the highly endangered Black Rhino (Diceros Bicornis) can live and enhance the stagnating gene pool of these animals in South Africa. As the Munyawana Game Reserve measures over 25 000 hectares and has the ideal habitat suited to Black Rhino, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the WWF allocated fifteen young animals to the Munyanawana Game Reserve. An additional three animals were added a year later and today, they have settled very well with numerous calves having been born.
Not satisfied with simply observing and enjoying these glorious animals, Tim and his wife, Yvonne, decided that their brains also needed ongoing stimulation, which led to them both enrolling with Africa Nature Training (www.africanaturetraining.co.za) and study for their FGASA (www.FGASA.co.za) Field Guides qualifications. Originally only intending to study the FGASA Level 1, 2 and 3 academic side of things, they decided to do a thorough job which saw them adding the practical training at the Nkombe Ranger Training Camp in the Sabi Sand Game area, west of Kruger National Park.
No sooner had they both qualified as FGASA Level 1 Field Guides, they enrolled in a post graduate course to become FGASA Trails Guides. Only qualified Field Guides may enrol in this tough course, as it entails guiding guests to face-to-face encounters with Africa’s Big Five animals, while on foot! They both passed the academic examinations “Cum Laude” and are presently logging up more hours and face-to-face encounters on foot in various Big Five areas.
Tim is always available and very keen to photograph and document conservation projects at very short notice, and to support movie crews who require still photographs. His philosophy of “Have camera, will travel!” has enabled him to capitalise on his mobility.
Prior to the year 2000, Tim used a Mamiya rangefinder film camera to document various freight and transport projects in which his companies were involved, but his keen interest in photography became a passion with the advent of digital cameras. His very first Sony Mavica, with its floppy disc storage medium, really interested him and when Canon introduced their very first digital SLR – D30, he was hooked!
Today Tim is a Canon man and believes in keeping pace with technology.
*Zulu – An indigenous African tribe from KwaZulu-Natal, the east coast of the region of South Africa.
**Inyanga – The Zulu name given to the “medicine person” who administers natural potions and remedies.
***Mtakathi – The Zulu word for magic..