Coenraad Vermaak was born 17 November 1943 in Dundee, northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. His ancestors were English, Norwegian, and Dutch. The latter arrived in the Cape in 1709 from the Netherlands. He was brought up on “Vermaakskraal,” the farm that had been in the Vermaak family since 1843. Thus, he comes from a long lineage of pioneers, hunters, and farmers who made their mark on the history of the KwaZulu Natal province and South Africa.
Coenraad was educated at Michaelhouse, a private boarding school in South Africa, as was his father and his son, Hans, who is a past president of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa, which Coenraad helped found in 1978. Coenraad now lives in Hilton, KwaZulu Natal province. Although he is semiretired, he is still very involved in “Coenraad Vermaak Safaris,” the longest established safari company in South Africa (since 1970). Though he no longer guides safaris as a professional hunter, he and his wife, Vicky, still visit the company’s hunting areas and safari camps regularly.
Coenraad started hunting in early childhood, and since 1965 he has hunted both professionally and recreationally in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Zambia, Mozambique, Cameroon, Tanzania, and others. Apart from the professional hunting and safari industry, he is also one of the pioneers of the “Conservancy” movement and of the Game Ranching Industry in South Africa. In the early 1960s, he created one of the first game ranches in South Africa on his farm, Vermaakskraal. He was one of the first landowners to introduce white rhinos onto his land when they cost R250 and when there was no charge for impalas from the then Natal Parks Board. He was appointed the first Honorary Officer of this organization in 1972.
Coenraad has received several national and international awards for his work in both conservation and for the professional hunting industry in Africa. He has been involved with and contributed to several scientific research projects, and he has been a consultant to some African governments on the safari industry and on the sustainable use of natural resources. Coenraad has played a leadership role in the organizations listed below, some of which he has belonged to since their inception:
- Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation Association of South Africa (Founder Member)
- Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife Honorary Officers
- Advisory Board to Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlife Board (Hunting and Extension)
- African Professional Hunters Association (Life Member)
- Confederation of Hunters Associations of South Africa
- KwaZulu Natal Hunters and Game Conservation Association
- Dallas Safari Club (Life Member)
- Safari Club International
- International Professional Hunters Association (Life Member)
- Game Rangers Association of Africa
- Shikar Safari Club International
- Founder Member of “The Conservation Imperative”
- Rowland Ward and Safari Club International Official Measurer