The Whittall family has been resident in Zimbabwe’s Save Valley for almost 90 years, and the 4th generation of African hunting Whittalls is presently up and coming. It all began in the 1920s, when 19 year old James (Jimmy) Whittall (Roger’s father) arrived in what was then the Rhodesian lowveld, to begin working on the massive Devuli ranch, as a learner cattle manager. Born in Turkey to an English family who had been there for generations, Jimmy had dreamed of Africa from an early age, his interest aroused by African hunting stories a schoolteacher told him. Jimmy’s father hunted with the legendary Frederic Courtney Selous, and today that renowned hunter’s 6.5mm Manlicher rifle holds pride of place in the Whittall family gun collection. While tending to the vast herds of cattle grazed by Devuli ranch, Jimmy Whittall came upon and became familiar with a fascinating tract of what was then crown land, bounded on two fronts by the Turgwe and Save Rivers.
This was the land that would come to be known as Humani, officially established in 1933. After years of hardship and repaying loans, Jimmy finally became the sole owner of Humani, and spent the rest of his working life building on the foundation he had laid, running successful cattle and cropping operations, furthering the area and people. In those days, wildlife had next to no value and was considered a hindrance to cattle ranching – predators killed stock and plains game competed for grazing. As a result, game was persecuted vigorously, and Jimmy hunted and shot many lions and leopards on Humani, with hounds and over kills. During the 1960s, Jimmy handed control of Humani to his sons – the cattle to Roger and the cropping to Richard. Then came Roger’s visionary ideas pertaining to wildlife and the pioneering work he carried out in that field –the work that would ultimately lead to the formation of the Save conservancy, so many years later. In the 1970s, Roger teamed up with another highly respected member of the African hunting/ conservation community, Barrie Duckworth, and began conducting big game safaris throughout southern Africa, fast gaining a reputation as an outstanding operator and professional hunter, a reputation he maintains to this day. office proficiently for the past 20 years. Beyond the bloodline, the Whittall family is extensive and includes their many employees – mostly descendants of people who worked for Jimmy Whittall in the 1930s. Other members of the wide-ranging Whittall family are the countless guests RWS has hosted over the years, on Humani and elsewhere. Nowhere is the saying ‘Arrive as clients, leave as friends/family’ more appropriate than at Roger Whittall Safaris.
Roger Whittall Safaris is the quintessence of a family business, with Roger’s charming wife Anne and all four of their children involved, in one way or another. As well as having a fulltime job ministering to the needs of the many Humani residents (both man and beast), Anne has overseen the smooth running of the RWS camps for more than 3 decades, and the youngest Whittall daughter, Sarah, has managed the RWS. A new chapter in the Roger Whittall Safaris story began in 2003, when Roger’s son Guy retired from international cricket and returned to the fold, to help run the family business and pursue his passion for hunting, wildlife and wild places. Guy’s heartfelt wish is that one day his own son, James, will do the same, and that Humani and Roger Whittall Safaris will continue to flourish for generations to come.