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There are few people who have identified 217 different species of birds in their garden, fewer still who can tell you the date and time of every sighting.
There are few people who have identified 217 different species of birds in their garden, fewer still who can tell you the date and time of every sighting. But before you imagine Brent as a ‘nird’ (bird-nerd) or housebound twitcher I should also tell you that he runs a highly successful safari company and that his first love is snakes, which he collected in prolific numbers until marriage and children told him to stop!
Brent spent a happy youth with his brother, Grant, and his Dad exploring the Magaliesberg mountains west of Pretoria. The three men, who remain as close today as on those happy expeditions of youth, botanised, birded, collected everything they could, and the boys especially loved snakes and amphibians. In short, Brent was at his happiest in the African Bush and grew up absorbing an encyclopaedic knowledge of nature.
The Reed Family share a love of nature
One can imagine that his seven years working in IT were less than fulfilling for him, and in 1997 he took the plunge and followed his brother Grant to re-locate to Maun on the edge of Botswana’s famous Okavango Delta. Soon he was training guides in amphibians and reptiles and working as a specialist guide for various companies.
In 2003 Grant and Brent, joined by their father, launched the Okavango Training School, training Botswanan guides, which is credited with raising the standard of guide training in the country. By 2010 they had trained 300 guides and it was still the nation’s only private guide training school.
Meanwhile, requests for specialist bird safaris encouraged the brothers to start ‘Letaka’ (reed) safaris. Since 2001 they have led mobile safaris, creating luxury tented camps deep inside wilderness areas, principally in the Okavango, but also across the region, including Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They give their clients the chance to enjoy unique endemic species, and the ‘famous’ birds of the region – Pel’s Fishing Owl, the bizarre Shoebill Stork, the fabulous Rollers, the African Finfoot.
'Saddlebilled Stork ' is a popular sighting on Letaka Safaris
Perhaps the reason why Brent is so well known as a bird guide is because his enthusiasm is not limited to birds alone: the roar of the lion, the interaction of birds with animals, the brilliant Milky Way, the experience of the total and wonderful environment of Africa is what sets Brent apart.
Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 13 May 2010
Location: Southern Africa | Botswana
Themes: natural world, travel | bird, safari guide