Thanks so much for your questions! I had a lot of fun answering them, but I’ve gotta run now dinner is calling and the crew here are like ravenous hyenas on a buffalo, so if I'm to get any I need to go ;-)

Hi my name is Tristan Dicks and I’m a professional field guide and a naturalist for where twice a day we host interactive and live shows about the African wilderness. Born and raised in the big city of Johannesburg, South Africa, a love of the bush was instilled in me early on. My grandparents were avid bush lovers and whenever the opportunity presented itself, they would whisk me away to the Kruger National Park with them on holiday. These trips inspired a love and interest for the natural world. Over the past ten years I have guided permanently in South Africa's Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Kenya's Maasai Mara, when not at work I spend my time wandering through the many wildlife destinations of the world fulfilling my passion for big cats, photography and experiencing the truly incredible moments nature gifts us.

You can watch Safari Live here:


Comments: 129 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

squid50s15 karma

What the single coolest and most intense moment you’ve had while in nature?

nationalgeographic46 karma

Tough to say I have been blessed with so many amazing moments in my life when it comes to nature, but if I had to narrow it down I would say following a single female leopard for the last 9 years and being the first person to ever lay eyes on her last cub after weeks of searching in difficult terrain. Seeing a cub a few weeks old emerge from the den and knowing you are the first one ever to see that tiny spotted cat is just too special.

programmingfriend9 karma

What is your favorite big cat? (Species or a specific animal)

nationalgeographic20 karma

Leopard (Panthera pardus) hands down!

Chocolate_Boy5 karma


nationalgeographic15 karma

Probably because I get to spend all day everyday with them for starters but their ability to hide in plain sight, tackle animals more than double their weight and to survive in the harsh wilderness of Africa alone is no mean feat. They are also just incredible to look at and photograph!

dredabeast248 karma

Do you have a special connection with any animals you guide? Taking about an individual animal.

nationalgeographic17 karma

I don’t know animals are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, many that watch the show say yes I do with the leopards of the Sabi sands game reserve. I suppose there is a particular fascination with the spotted cats and I try spend as many hours with them as I can! There is maybe one young male called Hosana that I seemed to get, we have followed him from birth and I make it my mission to find him as often as possible. We have spent in excess of 7 hours a day with him most days over the last 3 years and it seemed he would sometimes emerge from thickets just for us to see him.

DebbieSicily3 karma

I do hope Hosana continues to come closer to Djuma so we can get more frequent updates on him.

nationalgeographic4 karma

Me too!

loner_lover77713 karma

He’s actually called the leopard whisperer on SafariLive lol

nationalgeographic10 karma

Haha I was wondering if someone was going to bring that up.

Leenzlions8 karma

What's something you wish everyone knew about your job?

nationalgeographic24 karma

That its not just a holiday;-) As much as being out in the African wilderness is looks like a dream for many, it actually requires hard work, many more hours in the field than most realise in some of the worlds hardest conditions, many sacrifices and that some days being so isolated can get tough.

DebbieSicily7 karma

What is one animal that you are wanting to photograph in the wild ?

nationalgeographic13 karma

Snow leopard fingers crossed I will be doing it soon!

loner_lover7772 karma

Is that a hint? ;)

nationalgeographic4 karma

For me personally yes busy trying to plan something for next year.

Petrova3227 karma

Hi Tristan,

Big fan of your work with SafariLive, username Bri Bri.

If you weren't guiding, what is another "dream job" could you see for yourself?

Thank you for all that you do, it is an honor to watch you each day, with your wealth of knowledge and passion for the wildlife around you.

nationalgeographic17 karma

Hi Bri Bri nice to e-meet you! Thank you for your kind words, if I wasn’t guiding then I reckon I would probably want to be a wildlife vet! Dealing with wild animals and being outdoors is just something I could never give up!

N8teface6 karma

Hey Tristan! Big fan of Safari Live. What kind of education and training are required to get hired as a Safari Guide? What's it like as a career?

nationalgeographic10 karma

Awesome always nice to chat to viewers! Most of our naturalists come from a guiding background and therefore will go through th South African guide training that involves exams and practicals on all aspects of nature! We also have a few that have done biology degrees as well. Its a great career for those with a true passion as it can be hard work and long hours but if you are passionate and enjoy interpreting nature for people around the world its the best job ever!

nationalgeographic6 karma

Most of our naturalists come from a guiding background which means they did the South African guiding syllabus which has both written and practical examinations. Some of our team though have biological degrees too! Its wonderful being able to be in the wilds of Africa and educate people from all walks of life around the world is priceless.

maryjanekronik5 karma

If you could bring any animal out of extinction, what would it be?

nationalgeographic3 karma

Hmmm can I say everything that we have lost?

maryjanekronik6 karma

lol, sure!

nationalgeographic4 karma


ttygrr5 karma

Hi Tristan. What’s your view on conservation tourism? I’ve been invited on a luxury safari yet struggle that the money spent and the presence of tourists actually hurts rather than helps the wildlife. It would be a once In a lifetime trip, but fear that I would be hurting rather than helping.

nationalgeographic6 karma


I hear where you coming from but without conservation tourism many of the earths wild places would no longer exist im afraid. Its why its important to choose where you go carefully, places that give back to both conservation and community as well as instilling a good guiding ethic is where you want to be. I can assure you that your visit might seem insignificant but every cent helps to keep these areas protected and a safe haven for wildlife.

closereaching5 karma

Hi Tristan, thanks for taking the time for this. A couple questions: 1) what's the ONE technology advancement that you think has added the most to your online guiding experience (infrared, thermal, drone, camera stabilization technology, etc)? I'd have to go with the infrared, myself... 2) any updates on the Botswana expansion? and, if YOU could pick the next location to expand, where would you go?

I really do love the SafariLive concept, btw. Especially the school drives. A lot of kids know more about dinosaurs than they do about wildlife... your platform has the real potential to change how people think about wild spaces.

nationalgeographic4 karma

Absolute pleasure its so nice to be chatting with all of you!

  1. For me I think internet speeds without it we wouldn't actually be able to broadcast it live anywhere but on the vehicles I would say the FLIR thermal it is such a useful tools in finding animals in thick bush and it can show some fascinating things about an animals body that our eyes just can't see.
  2. Not just yet we are looking into a number of exciting projects which will determine our next move. Tough tough question as a destination for wildlife viewing and filming is two different things but I would love to do something completely different like the Arctic or a desert location. Im not going t lie though Jaguars and the rainforests of South America would also be amazing!

Thank you we love the school drives and hope that we can educate many of the future generations of just how important our wildlife is before many species end up like the dinosaurs!

closereaching2 karma

Re, viewing vs filming, totally agreed; the technical logistics behind what you guys manage to do is a bit mind-blowing, and I'm sure I barely grasp a fraction of it. Your cam ops are amazing; I'd love to spend a day just shadowing Jeandre. :)

nationalgeographic3 karma

I know it is amazing it still shocks me daily! Yeah he is an incredible cam op but you will need ear muffs for he loves to talk a lot! ;-)

Chtorrr4 karma

What is the very best dessert?

nationalgeographic15 karma

Im a fan of chocolate mousse personally but depends on the restaurant really?

nationalgeographic14 karma

If however you mean desert then my favorite is our very own desert here in South Africa, the Kalahari:-)

loner_lover7774 karma

I’ve always wanted to ask this during a drive... have any of the guides accidentally run over an animal during the show?

nationalgeographic7 karma

Putting me on the spot here! Can I plead the 5th? In all seriousness we honestly don't drive all that fast and really try and ensure no wildlife is harmed but I would be a liar if I said we had never driven over the odd insect by mistake.

loner_lover7776 karma

Pretty much the answer I expected lol thanks Tristan

nationalgeographic5 karma

No worries!

Reaper023674 karma

What is the closest call that you’ve had with a big cat?

nationalgeographic12 karma

On foot I have been within 5 yards of both lion and leopard and in the vehicle I have once had a lion sniff my shoe! We don’t have doors on our vehicles so she was just being curious, maybe my shoes smelt like a tasty treat. These are however rare occurrences most of the time we try respect nature and the animals as much as possible and allow them space so we generally will keep a comfortable distance and if the cat approaches then thats great the last thing we want is for them to be uncomfortable and move away.

TravelPhoenix3 karma

I’m 43. Am I too old to learn to guide or to work as a guide assistant? I want to spend more time in Africa and I’m a writer. How can I get a job in this field? By the way, I watch your periscope stream all the time.

nationalgeographic6 karma

No one is ever to old to learn to be a guide thats what it is so great about it! I know many guides in their 60s still actively contributing. In terms of getting into this field I would suggest trying to do a guiding qualification through the likes of Eco-training, bush wise etc and then trying to get into a lodge that you can guide at before diversifying. Hope that helps and hope you continue to watch I look forward to hearing from you on the show!

TravelPhoenix2 karma

Actually Bushwise was the group who told me I was too old. I actually wanted to apply but they rejected me.

nationalgeographic5 karma

Really thats ridiculous, I am really disapointed to hear that! Try Ecotraining or NJ More training.

dredabeast243 karma

Have you ever ran into poachers or found evidence of poachers?

nationalgeographic8 karma

Unfortunately yes on the evidence front but never the poachers themselves.

GiraffeGirl68873 karma

Hiya Tristan! It’s Giraffe Girl. I’m wondering in your opinion what is the single most important issue in conservation? How is this currently affecting bush and how can this issue be addressed to decrease the affect?

nationalgeographic4 karma

Hi Giraffe Girl!

Over population of humans causing habitat loss which im afraid really has no viable solution for.

-Seeeeemji-2 karma

Tristan, what has been the hardest work you've ever done? And the easiest?

nationalgeographic2 karma

Cleaning septic tanks at a lodge I once worked at it was horrid. Easiest it talking to people everyday about my country and the animals I love to be around!

borishuper2 karma

Is it hard to manage your personal relationships (family, friends, etc) when you spend so much time in the bush?

nationalgeographic2 karma

Very being away from family for almost 260 days a year is very difficult especially when there is birthday, deaths etc. Luckily though the advancement in technology means we can still stay in touch and they can see what I get up to daily on the show:-)

ntvsdgrl2 karma

Tristan, because of you and SafariLive, I went to South Africa last month for 3 weeks and it was life changing.

Odd question, has any bird flying over you, relieved itself on you?

nationalgeographic8 karma

Thats fantastic im so glad you came out where did you go if I may ask?

Unfortunately yes but it was at least a small bird, I have a friend who had a vulture poo on him;-)

janwy11 karma

Tristan, Thank you for your expertise in this field. I have been watching #safarilive for a few months now. Is a sighting of a bat in the Djuma area possible?

nationalgeographic5 karma

Most definately we see them every night just impossible to get on camera im afraid although I think I have had them on screen once! Unless you count batman aka Craig then everyday if you like?

SignalGoat1 karma

What do you think is the most underappreciated thing you show people?

nationalgeographic6 karma

Impala and Spiders!

nooneisanonymous1 karma

What are the minor inconveniences that you encounter everyday that most people aren’t aware of that seriously hamper your ability to do your job?

(Heat, dust and mosquitoes)

nationalgeographic3 karma

Insects, heat, rain and tech issues mainly.

BecSafari1 karma

If fate took you away from your bushlife, what would you miss the most about the bush? What other career choice would you pursuit?

nationalgeographic3 karma

Hi Bec,

Nice to have you on here hope you are well? I think the feeling of freedom and the lessons I learn daily from the wildlife! I honestly don't know wildlife and being in the bush is why I get up in the morning.

BecSafari2 karma

Hi Tristan,

Thanks. I'm very well. I hope you are.

I kind of guessed your answer. You're lucky to witness the amazing African animals. I can't wait to finish university and witness what you see every day for myself.

nationalgeographic3 karma

Look forward to seeing you out here and hearing all about it good luck with uni!

Tattva31 karma

Who is your favourite male leopard Tristan? I know Thandi is your favourite leopard.

nationalgeographic1 karma

Thamba her son;-)

jb_noele1 karma

Hello Tristan I look forward to watching you on SafariLive daily. (Noele/Jareds_buddy) have you ever been tracked by a leopard on foot?

nationalgeographic1 karma

Hi Noele nice to hear from you!

Yes more times than I can remember Salaeyxe, Tiyani and Hosana liked to follow you when you found them on foot.

beeanz71 karma

Have you ever been bitten/attacked by an animal ?.

nationalgeographic2 karma

Many many mosquitos and ticks haha and a rhino once horned the front of my car that was quite interesting!

loner_lover7771 karma

What’s the most sad moment you’ve had during a live drive?

nationalgeographic3 karma

Tough question but I would have to say when Xongile the female leopard was attacked by Thandi:-(

loner_lover7771 karma

That was a sad moment :(

nationalgeographic3 karma

It was but I have been blessed with far more happy moments than sad ones thankfully!

OjosDeBrujo1 karma

Hey, I am planning to climb Kilimanjaro and visit the Serengeti soon and go to Zanzibar as well. Any advice as far as which company I should use for a guide/ porter?

nationalgeographic1 karma

Send me an e-mail me on [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and ill try give you some more detailed feedback!

core-void1 karma

Hi Tristan! My wife and I have been tuning in to Safari Live for quite a while now and absolutely love being able to experience something so interesting virtually.

My question for you is: Do you know of any other similar productions, not necessarily safari or wildlife related, that put out this kind of edu-tainment content pretty regularly?

nationalgeographic1 karma

I don't actually especially not live im afraid.

psychomaji1 karma

What is your favourite game sighting you have seen?

nationalgeographic6 karma

Too many to have only one I'm afraid but one of many was seeing 5 leopards in the same sighting on the same kill!

SianMin1 karma

I realize conservation takes money and the tourism in reserves is the source. From watching general tourist antics on social media the bush has to suffer from people's ignorance and insensitivity. I feel watching Safarilive should be a prerequisite to entering the wildlife areas. What do you think?

nationalgeographic2 karma

Would be nice but you would think people visiting such reserves would have an interest for nature and not feel so self important to actually act appropraitely

iMaLeopardLvr311 karma

Hi Tristan! I’m a regular viewer of SafariLive and love you on drive. What’s your most memorable experience guiding guests?

nationalgeographic2 karma

hmm I have lots not sure I would be able to type them all but watching many guests break down in tears of joy when they see the animal they most wanted to see is always so rewarding