For as long as Damen can remember, he has been fanatical about wildlife. To the extent, he admits, that he could imitate animal noises before he could even talk. Damen was born and raised in Johannesburg, and from an early age, his mother would take him to the zoo on a weekly basis to feed his insatiable passion for the animal world.
In between these weekly zoo visits and the Pheiffer family’s annual safari to the Kruger National Park, Damen recalls spending every holiday and long weekend either in the bush or at the beach. On one particular safari, when Damen was just nine years old, the family spent a night at &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge and after one &Beyond game drive, Damen was adamant that he would one day return to Phinda to become a ranger.
In 2017, Damen obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Louisiana State University in the USA (where he also represented the university swimming team). Following graduation, he worked as a research associate for the University’s Renewable Natural Resources department studying the blue crab and shrimp fisheries of southern Louisiana.
Interestingly, during Damen’s time abroad, he would often tune into live safari broadcasts in order to get his much-needed Africa fix before his eventual return to African soil in 2018. He immediately returned to Phinda to join Beyond’s Inkwazi Ranger Training School to qualify as a guide and has since been based at all of Phinda’s six lodges.
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