The Custodian

The Custodian

The hunt for Giant Trevally in the surf, south of the 26th parallel of latitude is what first got me to Kosi.  Somewhere in my 3rd trip I got hopelessly distracted and didn’t even make it in to the surf zone.  Ewan Kyle is the closest fishing thing to Mowgli that you will find anywhere, and being shown around this wild place by a reptile mad hunter/fisherman is honestly the highlight of it all for me.  As you begin to get to know the man, you will find a passion for environment preservation that is unrivalled, and backed up with a bravery that is seldom found in conservationists.  Balls is what I mean.

Rural Kwazulu-Natal suffers a dangerous cocktail of socio-economic issues, and the Kosi Bays reserves proximity to civilisation has left its resources at the mercy of men who will do anything to claw their way out of poverty.  This was all too apparent late one evening, where for only the second time, I was witness to a GT hunt at the Kosi mouth.  With darkness came the arrival of two men off my flank, my early warning system in the twilight was uncharacteristic fog which made for obvious silhouettes.  Ewan was fighting a fish from the beach, a long way off, but I knew he was now making out 3 shapes on the reef.  I quickly reeled in and immediately made my way towards the two guys to greet them.  My plan was catch them off guard.  If they were no threat, it would be quick greeting as I walked by and they would carry on with there business.  Unfortunately as I walked past, the taller of the two looked at his friend and nodded.  My reef knowledge and vibram soles did me well, and I managed to stay just ahead as I ran across the reef.  I gave a glance as I jumped into the mouth, now pumping out, but I would risk tide over human any day, and I was even more concerned to see them follow me chest deep as I lost and regained my footing.  The sight of Ewan and firearm was a welcome one, and the men only stopped pursuit on sight of Ewan.

Conservation in these parts is no joke.  Running out into the lakes alone in the pitch black, pulling illegal nets which often yield armed illegal fisherman at point blank range takes a special kind of man.  You can only continue through the the threats and retaliation this man endures in protecting this environment with real passion and purpose.  Few of us possess this strength.

Ewan was raised by a Scotsman who fell in love with South Africa on first sight and never left, which somehow made him more African.  The old guard will know of Scotty Kyle, and with any luck his stories of this wild coast decades ago will be put to paper, and if the stars align, this will lay down the benchmark for the rehabilitation of this wonder of our Southern African world.  Ewan and I have sat lost in contemplation on how this could be achieved, and somehow I feel like private enterprise is the only hope to circumnavigate government corruption while solving community issues sustainably.

The departure of the Kyle family from Kosi gutted me.  Having seen how Ewan actively protects this fishery, every day of its life, gives me little hope for its immediate future in his absence, but at some point a man has pick up anchor and reset.  With it an ironic parallel to his fathers past as he heads off into an untouched wilderness somewhere else in Africa.  Good luck my friend.


and thanks for the fish!

7 thoughts on “The Custodian”

  1. We’ve really mucked things up, haven’t we?
    Overwhelming dispair and frustration..
    The sixth extinction.

  2. Sad that it hangs on one person’s passion. It should be a whole nations passion.

    The first pic with the snake is interesting…. any idea where that pic was taken? I ask because it is a boa constrictor which is found in South and Central America.

  3. I will eat my underpants if that is not a boa constrictor haha. I don’t know much but I do know snakes. I sent him a message on FB…. maybe he will let us know the background of that pic. Its chewing me up.

  4. For the okes asking about the snake, I stand to be corrected, but it looks like a Gaboon viper to me (Bitis gabonica). And ja, the rest of the story is the story pretty much at the forefront of every other environment story, too many people. FFS (!) when is that there are too many people going to take a front seat in global policies and politics?

  5. Shew…. Ewan replied to me and it is indeed a boa constrictor….. its a pet of his. The second snake is a Gaboon, no free-handling that puppy.


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