Harry Wolhuter Biography by Professor Geoffrey Haresnape

The following biography was written in 1974 when the story of Wolhuter's epic stabbing of a lion was retold by Professor Geoffrey Haresnape . Re-published with permission from his book, "The Great Hunters". Please see bottom of this page.

Harry Wolhuter

Ranger Harry Wolhuter"Tall, spare, but powerfully built; purposeful, for all his quiet voice and unassuming manner, he seemed emblematical of the best type of pioneer hunter." This was Lt. Colonel Stevenson - Hamilton's estimate of Wolhuter when they first met in 1902. The Colonel had just been made Warden of the newly - reproclaimed Sabi Game Reserve, and he needed game rangers to build up and patrol the Lowveld morgen in which the game had been severely reduced during the recent Anglo- Boer War. In Wolhuter, who had in previous years embarked upon big - game shooting trips in that very area, he found just the right man. Until Wolhuter's retirement 44 years later, they got on well together. " One could have no better chief," Wolhuter wrote.

Born in Beaufort West, Cape, on the 14th February 1877, Wolhuter lived a life of freedom in the veld. From the time he could first remember he was a hunter, with a catapult, an air gun, finally graduating to an old muzzle loader. He and his friends made their own gunpowder and percussion caps from match -heads. At 14 he left school and started work in a trading store in Maraisburg, Transvaal. He later became a shepherd, a big - game hunter, and, during the Anglo -Boer War a member of the colourful band of mounted soldiers known as Steinacker's Horse.

In game ranging Wolhuter found his true vocation. During his period of service he had the satisfaction of seeing his reserve, renamed The Kruger National Park, grow into, perhaps, the best - known and most popular wild life sanctuary in the world. He wrote: " My long experience has taught me that, thrilling through the pleasures of shooting undoubtedly are, infinitely greater and far more lasting pleasure and interest can be obtained from the observation and study of wild animals, unafraid and uninterfered with, in their natural haunts; and I have never regretted my metamorphosis from hunter to guardian!"

A wound incurred after being dragged off by a lion, together with severe bouts of malaria, permanently affected his health. He retired in 1946. His Memories of a Game Ranger written in a most readable and modest manner were brought out in 1948 by The Wild Life Protection Society of South Africa. It is from this book that these extracts are taken.

 Read the lion story

About Professor Haresnape:

Born in Durban, brought up in Cape Town, and educated at the University of Cape Town and Sheffield University, UK. He has published four volumes of poetry, DRIVE OF THE TIDE, NEW-BORN IMAGES, MULBERRIES IN AUTUMN and THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: SELECTED AND NEW POEMS. Also two works of fiction, a novel, TESTIMONY and a collection of short stories AFRICAN TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE.

Professor Haresnape is Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town and Extraordinary Professor, University of the Western Cape. He is Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge in the UK. Please visit the Professor's blog to see more of his work ...