Dr. Kevin Robertson is a recognized expert in African wildlife management, bringing together four decades of experience in multiple disciplines surrounding wildlife conservation.
A qualified veterinarian from the University of Pretoria’s prestigious Onderstepoort Veterinary faculty, Kevin “Doctari” Robertson is also the author of multiple books that provide an in-depth insight into all aspects of ethical wildlife utilization.
Kevin’s early career focused on establishing a rural veterinary practice in the north-western Mashonaland region of Zimbabwe, while also managing a large Beefmaster cattle herd. This experience provided insights on both wildlife and livestock management, and rangeland utilization.
In the mid 1980’s, Kevin and his wife Catherine purchased a commercial farm in the Karoi farming area of Zimbabwe, successfully growing tobacco, maize and legume re-enforced pastures. Being close to the well-known Zambezi Valley and the wonderful array of wildlife that inhabits this pristine and remote part of Africa was a bonus, especially when a small resident herd of only six naturally occurring sable antelope were discovered on Kevin’s new farm.
Over the subsequent 15 years, thanks to careful management and protection, this small number of sable multiplied to 120. This provided Kevin with valuable experience in managing these aristocratic antelope, testify to Kevin’s passion for all aspects of habitat and wildlife conservation. Wildlife and the environment in which they roam requires careful management, resulting in Kevin taking his Zimbabwean Dangerous Drugs / Game Capture license.
As a qualified veterinarian, Kevin was thrown into the deep end with controlling Hoof & Mouth Disease, as part of the Zimbabwean government’s interest in protecting the country’s beef exports to the European Union. This required an in depth engagement with the Hoof & Mouth Disease host, the Southern Buffalo (Syncerus cafer cafer)
All aspects of the African buffalo were to become Kevin’s fascination and he is now considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on these formidable black bovines. Kevin’s buffalo fascination ultimately lead him to taking his Zimbabwe Professional Hunters license, and together with Catherine starting a successful safari outfitting company specializing in high-end dangerous game hunting safaris in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley.
As the only Zimbabwean veterinarian who was also a licensed Professional Hunter, Kevin has been uniquely qualified to provide precise guidance on effective hunting procedures. This position lead Kevin to author The Perfect Shot, Africa’s Most dangerous, The Perfect Shot II and various mini, pocket versions. These books provided Kevin with an opportunity to share insight on his extensive firearm and ballistics knowledge.
The Robertson family and their Zimbabwe farm were eventually to become victims of that country’s land reform policy – and after being displaced they relocated to South Africa where Kevin remained involved with wildlife management, developing game ranches in South Africa, Botswana and as a wildlife consultant in Namibia.
From 2014 -2017 Kevin headed up the Southern African Wildlife College’s Sustainable Use & Field Guiding department. Along with training field guides and professional hunters, Kevin also oversaw a research project where the age demographics and trophy quality of the hunted bull buffalo population in the four privately owned game reserves which are adjacent to and open with the greater Kruger National Park were compared to the KNP’s non-hunted buffalo bull population. Using aerial photography and computer-generated facial recognition techniques this ground breaking work has changed the way the hunting quotas are now set so as to ensure the genetic sustainability of trophy quality within the hunted population.
Over this time Kevin also managed a rhino-monitoring program there in the areas where they occurred naturally. They were individually darted, ear notched, micro-chipped and their movements monitored. This provided Kevin with valuable experience, working with and managing these incredible yet endangered creatures. If fact he also worked closely with a breeding herd of white rhino in Botswana and was able to observe them daily in their natural environment. This enabled Kevin to understand the important of rhino family units.
In 2018, Kevin and his wife Catherine relocated to Texas where Kevin’s services as an exotic wildlife consultant have been highly sought after. The Texas exotic wildlife industry is booming. There are currently approximately 1.6 million head of exotics in the Lone Star State, with this number made up from as many as 140 non-indigenous species. “Noah’s Ark for the world’s wildlife” best describes current day Texas where the care, feeding and management of such a vast array of different species requires many diverse skills and past practical experience.
Kevin’s vast veterinary knowledge, his past experiences with many of these African species in their natural environment, his understanding of their nutrition and mineral requirements and most importantly his knowledge and experience with managing the land which supports and sustains all these different species is what makes him a ‘well-rounded’ Exotic Wildlife Consultant.
Successful Texas exotic wildlife ranching revolves around knowing the carrying capacity of the land and then stocking it at 80% of this value with some of the species best suited for that particular environment. The land should provide 80 to 90 % of the exotic’s nutritional requirements, with the balance being made up of carefully selected protein and mineral supplements so as to even out seasonal nutritional variations and needs. This ensures optimal body condition, the secret to any successful breeding operation. The veterinary expression, “90% of the success of breeding can be attributed to feeding”, is a very accurate statement, one which has been proven over and over again.
The nutritional requirements of Texas’s exotic wildlife species is known, with specially formulated wildlife specific protein and mineral supplements now being readily available. Kevin’s experience lies in connecting all the dots so the land is stocked conservatively, with the ‘right’ species for that particular environment so they are healthy, happy and ‘shiny’. Get this delicate balance right and you’ll be surprised how successful and rewarding such ranching can be.