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Pioneer in game tourism murdered - but what a life

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Eondt View Drop Down

Joined: 23-Aug-2006
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  Quote Eondt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pioneer in game tourism murdered - but what a life
    Posted: 04-Dec-2007 at 13:33
Hi everyone. Recently a farmer just outside Johannesburg became another murder victim. I thought I'd start this thread as a kind of tribute to him.  Below is a short article briefly describing the life of this man. He lived a remarkable life and all I could say when I read this was "wow".
Franz Richter: Pioneer of game tourism in SA
Chris Barron Published:Dec 02, 2007

LIVING HIS DREAM: Franz Richter, who was born in Romania, always had a passion for Africa

Franz Richter, who was murdered this week in a robbery near his game ranch outside Johannesburg at the age of 80, was one of the pioneers of game tourism in South Africa.

Richter, who was born in Romania on October 27 1927, was an orphan by the age of five. As a youth in communist-run Romania, all he dreamt about was having a full stomach. That and Africa.

When he was 15, he made his way to Germany where he was promptly drafted into the Hitler Youth and forced to fight in the German army.

After the war, he worked in a coal mine, an experience which haunted him for years. Richter described the conditions on the mine as so horrifying that it was a job fit only for somebody who had killed his mother and father.

He considered responding to advertisements offering jobs in Canada but his passion was always for Africa. When he saw jobs advertised for the Joburg gold mines, he wasted no time in applying.

As one of 80 chosen applicants (out of 1 000), he had to sign a contract with the South African government binding him to work in the mines for a minimum of four and a half years.

Richter worked 3.5km underground for Crown Mines and was eventually made a shift boss.

Before leaving Germany for South Africa, he had become a qualified motor mechanic. This equipped him for life after mining. When he left the mines, he took his tool box to a number of workshops before opening his own Richter Motors garage. Eventually he owned four garages in Johannesburg.

He had a team of mechanics at Kyalami race track and became close friends with racing legend Jackie Stewart and his boss Ken Tyrrell. Whenever they had mechanical problems, Richter would see them right at one of his garages.

His reputation became widespread in the car industry and BMW in Germany approached him for help and advice when they came to South Africa.

In 1970 Richter realised a lifelong dream when he bought 1100ha of virgin bush infested with snakes and scorpions in Muldersdrift, northwest of Johannesburg.

His decision was not purely romantic; it also made good business sense. He saw that there was nothing much to offer tourists who wanted a taste of the bush and decided to exploit the gap.

Today his ranch provides employment for 200 people from the surrounding community.

Richter created a 100ha farm which provided all the vegetables and meat his Heia Safari Ranch and Aloe Ridge Lodge needed.

In 1987 Richter built an authentic Zulu village on his ranch, which was opened by King Goodwill Zwelithini.

In 2000 he built the biggest handmade dam on the African continent, which is 2.5km long and 400m wide.

After waiting for 10 years to get a permit from the Department of Water Affairs, the construction of Lake Heritage, with spades and wheelbarrows, took four years. Two years ago, a flash flood filled it for him and today it hosts prolific bird life, including his pride and joy, nesting fish eagles.

While working on the mines, Richter developed a friendship with a seamstress pen pal from MuHenich, Hedwig Sedlmayr.

In 1954 he sent her a boat ticket. She arrived at Cape Town harbour with a suitcase in one hand and sewing machine in the other.

Sixteen hours after meeting she and Richter married. She died in 1983.

Richter is survived by two daughters, a son and five orphans he was looking after. Chris Barron

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Justinian View Drop Down
King of Númenor

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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Dec-2007 at 06:42
That is a remarkable life story.
"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."--Thomas Mann

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elenos View Drop Down

Joined: 13-Jun-2007
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  Quote elenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Dec-2007 at 08:33
Truly inspiring.
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Knights View Drop Down

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  Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Dec-2007 at 12:59
Such an illustrious career coming to and end like that.

I hadn't heard of the man before to be honest. Thanks for the news Eondt.
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