Willie de Graaff grew up in the Ghanzi District of Botswana. His friends were the Bushman, or San of the District. He learned from these soft hearted people , their hunting skills, food gathering and general knowledge of the veld. He can speak two of the Bushman languages fluently, he even dreams in Bushman.
He is an offspring of the original trekker Afrikaners, sent by Cecil John Rhodes in 1898, to the Ghanzi District. It is believed that Rhodes wanted the farmers to protect Rhodesia from the Germans taking over from South West Africa. They endured hardships that is unbelieving, but today the families of those original trekkers, are making a good living in the Ghanzi District.
Willie was trekking cattle through the Kalahari for 20 years, he did this for an income. He was also hunting and living a free life with the Bushman and the Kalahari as his companions. He also was a protector of game and had a game farm. In 2000 he decided to begin a lodge at Grassland Safari’s, later Grassland Bushman Lodge.
In his youth he hunted many lions, some was a threat to his cattle on the long treks, and he wanted to give back. He decided to give the San a chance to show off their incredible skills to tourists and also started the predator project.
The predators on Grassland was saved from a bullet, all problem animals entering the farms, are allowed to be hunted. Willie is capturing those animals and with the help of the Department of Wildlife, trying to relocate them to new places. Ten lions were trans located last year to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Some of the bushman families on the farm, are offspring of the original old man that taught Willie most of his skills in the bush. Qhiegau was his name and his grandson, Qhiegau are leading the activities on Grassland. He is thankful for his trekking skills that he learned from the San, he is reading tracks like the Bushman.
At the moment there are 12 lions, 32 wild dogs and two leopards at the lodge. Willie is doing all expenses from his own pocket and are looking for a relocation place for the predators.
The future of Grassland, are in the hands of Willie’s children, that share his passion for Wildlife, The San and Predators.