Derek was born and raised at the foot of Mount Elgon in western Kenya. School holidays and weekends were spent camping and exploring the forests covering the mountain, as well as the Pokot and Turkana districts of north western Kenya, though his favorite haunt was always the western shores of Lake Turkana.
In 1975, Derek came to Botswana as a 21-year-old apprentice professional hunter for a company based in Kasane, which had concessions in the Linyanti, Kwando and Panda ma Tenga areas. After completing his apprenticeship and qualifying as a commercial pilot, Derek guided safaris and flew charter aircraft based out of Maun and Kasane until 1990. Then he set up his own air charter operation, Safari Air, in Maun.
Derek is currently deputy CEO of Chobe Holdings, a public company that owns lodge operators Ker & Downey Botswana and Desert & Delta Safaris, as well as Chobe Game Lodge and Safari Air.
He says, “Historic records describe abundant rhino populations in northern Botswana. But in 1976, I found the tracks of the region’s last known black rhino. The bull himself had not been seen for two years.
During my early years in Kasane, the first white rhinos to be relocated to Chobe National Park from South Africa were a common sight. By 1980, they had all been poached – a devastating end to a great initiative.”