Joe and Willie Pietersen

Rugby player Joe Pietersen and his game ranger brother are the Veldhelde - travelling the country to meet the people dedicating their lives to saving our most vulnerable species.

From Friday 20 April on the Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA (DStv channel 147) and streaming live on DStv Now, the rugby player Joe Pietersen will exchange the rugby field for the veld. He is joined by his brother Willie who works as a game ranger. They will travel the country to meet the people who have dedicated their lives to saving our most vulnerable species. Veldhelde airs Fridays at 17:00 with repeats on Sundays at 21:30.


Joe shared some insights with VIA:

Briefly explain the intrigue behind Veldhelde as a reality TV show:

Veldhelde takes the viewer on an adventure. The viewer has the ability to walk in the shoes of a ranger.

Which production aspects have you found most daunting?

The largest challenge was to not interfere with the rangers and their obligations. It was quite clear that these rangers don’t have large amounts of time when dealing with saving a wild animal.

Which moments challenged you the most?

I have enjoyed the filming process immensely. I have had the privilege of working with spectacular people that are filled with passion for their country and its natural inhabitants.

Which passion project excites you the most?

I appreciate all of Mother Nature’s delights. Rhinos have a very special place in my heart. Their species are heavily under threat. I have launched a passion project in order to aid the mission in preserving the lives of black and white South African rhinos. We have nothing to lose by taking care of our surroundings.

Do you think that the viewers might see a different side to you whilst watching Veldhelde?

I believe so. Most know me as a rugby player. I hope that they realise that I possess an array of interesting features and interests.

Which aspects regarding your brother and his line of work impresses you the most?

The amount of knowledge that it takes to be a ranger is most intriguing. The instinct driven orientation that these rangers need to apply daily, is difficult to grasp. It takes years of experience, knowledge and patience to work amongst wild animals the way my brother does. 

Did you and your brother learn things from one another during the filming process?     

I have learned so much. The smaller details revolving around the animals become so much clearer once one really spends unlimited amounts of time in the wild. My brother helped me identify these things.

Was it easy to work as a team?

Without a doubt. I wouldn’t have wanted to work with anyone else.

Where there any specific incidents during filming that were of impressionable measure? 

The highlights always include the spotting of endangered species. It is thrilling to see them go about their day without human interference. We were lucky enough to spot a pack of wild dogs. Willie and I crept closer and closer until we were a stone through away. It was one of the most spectacular moments.

Has your perception of nature conservation changed since the production has started?

I have always been a great supporter of projects relating to nature conservation. These experiences merely fuel the fire.

Willie spoke about his experience working on the show:

Did you find it challenging to co-host this production with your brother? 

Up until his stage it has been all smooth sailing. My brother and I are open-minded and like-minded. I sometimes struggle to keep up. Joe is extremely proactive. He is constantly on the move. He keeps me on my feet.

What do you want the viewers to take from the programme?

We are all one under the African sun. Problems that arise here should concern us all. It is our duty to take care of our country and its beauty. It only takes a select few to make the world of difference.

Where there any interesting moments that took place behind the scenes?

It was such an honour to have been able to work with such an amazing team. Everything became amplified once we started filming. It was amazing to have had the time to fully absorb the surrounding details in full.

What was one of the most challenging aspects of filming?

I struggled to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Presenting took a lot of time getting used to.

Do any specific species take your favour?

I receive this this question over and over. I don’t like picking favourites. I do however love Elephants. I find myself spending hours observing them.

Which passion project has managed to catch your eye in particular?

This is a difficult one to answer. There are so many projects that support different aids. There is no one project that I would like to favour. I think the passion needs to be spread across the whole of the animal kingdom. Every organism is dependent on the health and safety of its fellow organisms.

Why are these projects important? What do these projects contribute to local communities?

These projects generate awareness and aim to educate the people that are closest to wild animals that function freely within their natural habitats. This is the key concept. We have to generate awareness regarding some sub species in order to promote their safety and wellbeing.

What can people do to support these passion projects?

I understand that everyone is not able to deliver a financial contribution. It is however important to understand that nature preservation starts with oneself. Whether we talk about recycling, putting a stop to littering, promoting anti-poaching campaigns are all examples of how people can contribute. The implication of littering on our ecosystems alone is enough reason to never make use of plastic again. It only takes one person to be willing to change.

What kind of audience will the programme attract?

This programme will attract any South African that has an interest or passion for wildlife or the preservation of natural ecosystems.

Where does Joe’s passion for Rhinos sprout from?

Joe’s and my passion for Mother Nature was reared by my father’s appreciation for wildlife. The two of us were raised to respect and protect the natural systems that promote our planet’s preservation. If we weren’t in the ocean, we were mucking around in the bush. Adventuring together, side by side.

This passion that we share, motivated both of us to become involved in nature conservation in our adult lives. He became involved with the resistance against rhino poaching. Nkombe is the promotion of rhino preservation, Joe’s very own passion project. It revels with passion and promotes the safety and promotion of rhino preservation.

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