While interviewing software company founder Louis Liebenberg in South Africa last October, Executive Editor Glenn Zorpette got to tag along on foot with some experts as they tracked lions in the wild. Liebenberg, profiled in this issue's Dream Jobs report, founded CyberTracker Software Ltd. in Cape Town, which produces an acclaimed program that automates the task of monitoring the wildlife in an area.
When his schedule permits, Liebenberg, who counts animal tracking among his many talents, teaches and evaluates less-experienced animal trackers. In fact, during Zorpette's visit, Liebenberg began a weeklong stint evaluating trackers in the tony Singita private game reserve in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
On the second afternoon of the trip, Liebenberg evaluated Sylvester Makhubela, a young black African candidate for senior tracker status. His test was, basically, to find a lion. Liebenberg, Zorpette, Makhubela, and two other trackers scrambled out of a Land Rover at 3:00 p.m. "The last thing they said to me before we headed into the bush was, 'Whatever happens, don't run unless we tell you to,'" Zorpette recalls.
With Makhubela in the lead, the group trod over tawny clumps of grass and among scattered bush and acacia trees near the N'wetsi River. Between 3:15 and 3:30 Makhubela was on the trail of some lion paw prints; a little after 3:30, he came upon a fresh antelope carcass. At 4:10, Makhubela found what he was looking for: a pride of lions [photo], including three lionesses, a dozen cubs, and a big male lazing nearby.
Liebenberg was delighted. "There are few people alive who can do what we just did," he told Zorpette, clearly proud of Makhubela, who earned his senior tracker stripes that day.