Elizabeth Bruce, known to all of us as Biff, is an exceptional field guide at Pafuri. She tells us why she loves the bush so much and how her passion encouraged her to become a superb trails guide.
“Of course I’m a guide,” laughs Biff Bruce. “It’s in my blood. I simply love the bush. Every day is different. I’m always discovering something new and exciting.”
While she was growing up in Australia her role model was Steve Irwin.
“His passion for nature and especially reptiles was something I found admirable,” she says.
A wild life experience recently left her elated. From a vantage point at the top of Lanner Gorge (the impressive boundary separating the RETURNAfrica concession from the rest of the Kruger Park) she saw two wild dogs running up and down the side of the Luvuvhu River. It looked like they were trying to cross over. Eventually the big dog braved the current and swam across. From the safety of the bank he called out to the pup, who wasn’t so keen to take the risk, but with the big dog’s insistent calls, he too took the plunge.
“Watching the pup wade across was a bit of a nail biter. I was worried that the dogs’ activity may have alerted the large crocs patrolling the river.”
But, finally, to Biff’s relief, the pup made it to the other side and the two pranced around each other, squealing in delight.
“They were so happy to be re-united it was as if they had spent a year apart, divided by the river.”
What made the moment so special for Biff is that wild dogs are not common in this area.
Biff loves all animals but has a fondness for the leopard.
“They are always a treat to see because of their elusive nature. They are beautiful cats found not only in Africa, but in many other parts of the world. Their capability amazes me.” Biff’s favourite bird is the Black or Verreaux’s Eagle.
“I love these power raptors, especially when they are flying high over the rugged mountains – their preferred habitat.”
“In the bush it’s often the clients who are funnier than the animals,” Biff laughs as she recounts a story.
“While on trails a rather shy client came up to me and calmly said that she had stepped on a snake hiding under her tent. Now, normally, I would have taken this very seriously but the way the woman explained it to me, in such a chilled way, I almost didn’t believe her. Anyway, I went to investigate, and sure enough, there, staring back at me was a large Mozambican spitting cobra! Getting it out of the way with only a rake and a broom is a story for another day.”