Bousfield - Jack & Ralph
In Botswana, the name Bousfield is synonymous with the vast Makgadikgadi. In the 1960’s, before the Bousfield family moved to Botswana, members of the family had headed up the East African Game Department, and had been involved in training the lions for famous films like Born Free.
Jack Bousfield was a professional hunter and the fourth generation to live in Africa. He hunted 53,000 crocodiles in his 69-year lifetime, got gored by an elephant with a tusk through his lungs and survived sleeping sickness. A pioneering visionary with a passion for adventure, Jack embarked on a lifelong obsession with the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the early 1970s.
Ralph would later establish a safari operation in the vast Magadigadi, naming the founding camp after his father - Jack's Camp. It was Jack’s vision to start a safari camp in the Makgadikgadi using 4wd quad bikes at a spot he had discovered when hunting in the 60’s and had continually revisited thereafter. However, having spent many years on safari, Jack was satisfied with the most simple of satisfactions and had no appetite for frills and fancy, he had an extremely rustic set-up and although people came to see him as much as the area and mostly brought in their own equipment.
By the 1980s, Jack was a tourist attraction in his own right, a gnarled old bushwhacker with close-cropped, white hair and beard, tanned almost black by the sun. He eschewed Western clothes in favour of a Swahili kikoi and slept under the stars most nights. Friends who shared his campfire say he had the most amazing tales, several involving a miraculous knack for walking away from crashes in light aircraft. Six he survived; the seventh proved fatal.
Ralph describes his father's influence and lasting legacy on Jack's Camp: "We inherited his ethos that the experience that people received through excellent guiding and interpretation of the environment is what they should take with them from Africa. It was real pioneering stuff. The area and the concept were both untried and untested."
"My father was a huge influence on my life: his love and fascination for all living things, people as well as animals, and an extraordinary, inquiring mind, mixed with a remarkable open-mindedness.
I learnt to question what may seem obvious and to seek the unexpected. There are always new frontiers to be explored – be it previously explored places, but with new knowledge and a different attitude – and most importantly not to be scared to push the boundaries."
Ralph Bousfield comes from a long line of African pioneers and adventurers; he went on his first safari at the age of three. His family has guided safaris for five generations, the first Guide in the family being his maternal great grandfather, Major Richard Granville Nicholson, who escorted Princess Eugenie to see her son’s grave and the site where he was killed in the Zulu war on the 1st June 1879.
Ralph studied Nature Conservation and did his thesis on the Wattled Crane as an Indicator Species of Wetland Destruction. He furthered his studies at the International Crane Institute in Wisconsin under the famous George Archibald, who captive-bred the whooping crane back from extinction. Ralph then worked with his mother to establish Botswana’s first Wildlife Orphanage and Education Centre. In 1998 Ralph co-produced and presented a sixteen part series for the Discovery Channel entitled “Uncharted Africa”, which was filmed in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania.
His passion for the Kalahari and the Bushmen began at a very young age as he was very lucky to have one of the greatest teachers and mentors, his father, Jack Bousfield. Growing up on safari, and hunting as a professional his whole life, his father worked with some of the greatest traditional hunters and trackers in Africa. Jack's respect for the Bushmen rubbed off on Ralph, and from a very young age, he had the good fortune to spend all his free time on safari with his father.
# Jack's Camp and Unchartered Africa were pioneers in tourism in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana and today are part of the Natural Selection portfolio.