Oldrich van Schalkwyk

We met Phil and Sue Roberts in 2012 when they came to the Soutpansberg on an Earthwatch Expedition, and it was immediately apparent that they had a great love for nature, in particular, big cats like Leopards, and a great love for South Africa – Sue has family in South Africa, an aunt and uncle who they used to visit, they also had a great love for people. We visited some local schools where Phil entertained the small kids by shaking a pencil up and down, so it looks like it was made out of rubber, and they just loved that. One night we got talking around a campfire about conservation and the plight of the Leopards on the mountain, and it was quite apparent that they were concerned and looking for solutions to stop the decline in large predator numbers, and to protect the mountain. We stayed in contact and shortly after that they asked us to start searching for land because they were excited about the prospect of putting some money together so that we could conserve large conservation areas in the Soutpansberg, and so we became great friends. On their subsequent visits to the mountain, their lust for life and their care for the environment and people was incredibly infectious, and through their tenacity to get more people to contribute towards the conservation of the mountain, they became the catalyst of what is now known as the Soutpansberg Protected Area. We were incredibly blessed to have met them and privileged to know them. Judy and I will sorely miss Phil – he was such an inspiration to us all with his energy and love for life. Phil’s contribution to catalysing the Soutpansberg Protected Area will be a lasting and living legacy and the people and wildlife reliant on this unique and beautiful landscape and who call it home are forever in his debt.