Name: Jacques van Eck
Country: South Africa
Profile: Jacques was born into a conservationist family and, ever since he could remember, wanted nothing more than a life in the bush. Every available moment was spent on the family farms or on trips to some of Southern Africa’s most renowned reserves. After completing school in Johannesburg, Jacques earned a National Diploma in Nature Conservation in Pretoria and was appointed manager of a South African National Parks breeding station for rare and endangered animals. While with SAN Park, he participated in one of the largest wildlife translocation operations ever undertaken, involving the move of over 2 500 animals to a new national park. Moving on, Jacques spent some time managing a game farm and a small fishery, but soon realised that he needed new challenges, as well as the fulfilment that came from sharing his knowledge with others.
Jacques joined &Beyond in 2007 and is currently the regional trainer for Botswana and Namibia. His interests include carnivores, frogs, reptiles, birding, ecology, walking and travelling.
Some of Jacques’ outstanding travel experiences include exploring the Baltic Sea, as well as the inland lakes and pine forests of Finland. He spent his time in the country on the south eastern coast, not far from the Russian border, where moose and white tailed deer can be seen walking along the highways. Jacques claims the small mammals and birds distracted him from the cold weather, and his visit was made complete by interacting with people and experiencing the local culture.
Another unforgettable destination for Jacques is Brazil, a country that has huge and largely unexplored areas offering an unbelievable diversity of fauna and flora. He was also impressed by the long white beaches, as well as the friendliness and warmth of the people.
For all his travel experience, Jacques finds that not much can compare to sitting in a small dugout canoe in the Okavango Delta, meandering through the crystal clear channels that the hippos have carved out and marvelling at the spectacle of a river that flows into the desert. The Delta forms a lifeline for wildlife in this corner of Botswana, where at almost every bend one can expect to see game coming down to the water’s edge to quench their thirst.