“Buffel was Here”

Scott Fraser aka Buffel is a young man with a lot of potential. We caught up with him at Makuleke during his last few days as a back-up Trails guide and discovered that despite Buffel’s size and strength, he is the epitome of a gentle giant. "One could argue that he’s more of an elephant than a buffalo".

Buffel’s hand-drawn note

“Buffel was here!”. The signs are hand-drawn notes left scattered in tactical points throughout EcoTraining’s Makuleke Camp, in the Kruger National Park. “Buffel,” aka Scott Fraser, gets his nickname for his sheer unparalleled strength, for he used to be a powerlifter.

EcoTraining staff and students still tell tales of how Buffel would easily carry two gas tanks under his arms at camp, while other strong students struggle to drag just a single tank. Or how Buffel would chain two tractor tyres to his body and drag them around the car circle for exercise during one of Bruce Lawson’s legendary ‘Bush Fit’ sessions—a sight that left all wide-eyed and open-mouthed. However, despite Buffel’s size and strength, he is the epitome of a gentle giant. One could argue that he’s more of an elephant than a buffalo.

Buffel overlooking Nwambi Pan, Makuleke Concession

Born in Johannesburg and raised in Nelspruit, Buffel studied and worked for a number of years as a photographer doing wedding and product photography. With all the beauty he would capture with his camera, he felt that there was something vibrant missing from his life. Upon leaving a hometown bar, Buffel’s parents bumped into the EcoTraining head offices in Nelspruit. They peeked into the window, and all of a sudden, they had a brilliant idea. They rushed home and suggested the EcoTraining year-long Professional Field Guide programme to Buffel, who spent childhood holidays in the Kruger and who absolutely loved nature. Buffel says, “I took it by the horns and went for it.”

That was over 6 months ago. 

Currently, Buffel is working as a Back-Up at the EcoTraining camps. His goal is to accumulate enough hours to be assessed and passed as a Lead Trails Guide by Bruce Lawson, former and valued Instructor of EcoTraining. Armed with the qualification, Buffel hopes to one day offer walking safaris with top-notch photographic safaris. A massive part of one’s personal EcoTraining experience is planning for the future and seeing what fits. As the world becomes larger and smaller all at once, and markets are further saturated. The key for future success is in the mastery of craft, which takes years, and in exposing the niche demand in the market. That is exactly what Buffel intends to pursue: the brilliant combination of his passion for nature and photography. As Buffel marches towards his future, he leaves behind a legacy of strength, kindness and professionalism, because of course, “Buffel was here.”

Buffel and Instructor Jasper Visser planning their next move