One man’s quest to save a species

March 22, 2024

Alex Oelofse is a man born in the African Bush, of the African Bush, protecting the African Bush


By Tom Mullikin

Over the last forty years I have traveled around the world and have occasionally met individuals who are truly doing extraordinary work. Alex Oelofse is one of these extraordinary individuals. Alex hails from a family credited with saving many of the African plains’ game species with what is considered the Olefso method. Alex and his family work day-and-night to support African conservation and saving the rhino population is one of his top priorities.

For centuries, hundreds of thousands of rhinoceros roamed across the African bush. These beasts weigh between 4,000-6,000 pounds and stand five-to-six feet tall at the shoulder.

Poaching terrorism has caused an almost extermination of this incredible species. This wanton waste is largely due to the demand from wealthy Asians who wish to demonstrate their financial status through the rhino horn. The price of rhino horn has increased to more than $60,000 per kilogram ($1,700 per ounce). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission’s African Rhino Specialist Group reported that there are only an estimated 16,803 white rhinos across the entire continent.

Studies have shown that more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species, are estimated to have become extinct. The loss of biodiversity impacts humans and wildlife. It is particularly acute when wildlife tourism is responsible for supporting tourists from around the world and the communities across the African bush. The alarming rate of poaching Africa’s remaining rhino population has some studies predicting its extinction in the wild within 20 years.

Will the world sit idle while another important species is unnecessarily exterminated? Alex Oelofse says no.

Alex is the son of Jan and Annette Oelofse and is responsible for saving hundreds of rhinos. He grew up and attended the Mount Etjo private school on their conservation property and ultimately earned a degree in mechanical engineering at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Like his parents, Alex is both a small fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter pilot. Growing up surrounded by wildlife he has a natural aptitude for handling animals and a great passion for conservation. He is following his father’s footsteps, maintaining the tradition, and continuing the dream in honor of his father. His legendary father Jan was considered one of the world-renowned conservationists and pioneered the mass game capture technique known as the ‘Oelofse Method’ that revolutionized game capture in Africa.

WHAT IS THE OELOFSE METHOD? The Oelofse method involves herding animals into a funnel-shaped capture boma with plastic sheeting. This methodology allows capture teams to carefully gather large numbers of animals in a short time and translocate them with minimal trauma.

There are more than 10,000 private game farms spanning 15-million hectares (and a further 15-million hectares for mixed wildlife and cattle farming) in Africa with over 18-million head of game, excluding the provincial and national game parks that owe their existence to the Oelofse Method that son Alex carries on.

The elder Oelofse and his team revolutionized game capture and revolutionized wildlife conservation as well as the capability and brave assistance of Zulu men on foot and horseback. The Oelofse method established a process for moving vast numbers of animals to restock existing game parks and to open up new wildlife areas: Its impact cannot be overstated.

Alex now stands on his father’s shoulders and in the breach to avoid the extinction of the rhino. While others wait on someone else to protect our nature, Alex is a rising international star doing all he can. Alex embraces the words of Leonardo da Vinci who insisted that he was “impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

So Alex is doing both on the ground and now urging the International community to address this disaster through the amendments to regulations within Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora that protects over 40,900 endangered species and needs updating to address this critical issue to nature and humanity.


– Camden, S.C.-based global expedition leader Dr. Tom Mullikin is currently traveling and speaking to international conservation groups in Africa.