Ingrid Mandt was born in Otjiwarongo to parents Hans Jurgen (geologist and later farmer) and Uschi Mandt (studied dentistry but had to give up due to financial difficulty during depression years) in 1957. She grew up on the cattle farm Brandenburg 40 Km North East of Otjiwarongo and went to the Deutsche Schule Otjiwarongo “Schulerheim” from grade 1 up to matric.
Here she excelled in athletics and obtained SWA (South West Africa) colours in hockey, discus, long jump, 100 meter sprint and some of her records still stand to this day!
Ingrid dreamt of becoming a Veterinary surgeon, but, her dad strongly advised against it as she became far too deeply, emotionally involved with animals well-being so consequently she studied dentistry, like her mom, at the Stellenbosch University and obtained the B.Ch.D degree. She practised as a dentist untill 1996 in Cape Town where she was employed by the Department of Health and had to visit the famous Robben Island prisoners Walther Sisulu and his comrades to attendt to their dental needs.
To this day she still cries harder when an animal dies as opposed to when a human dies, a topic which she and her dad quarreled over regularly!
She married Izak Smit, a South African citizen and their daughter, Anja Smit was born in 1986. Anja followed in her dad s footsteps and became a commercial helicopter pilot and also lives in Swakopmund Namibia.
Ingrid and Izak travelled Africa extensively whenever they could and quickly became totally addicted to safaris and wildlife photography in North East, Central Africa and especially in Namibia. They left South Africa and moved to Namibia in 2008 permanently.Being Semi- retired they spend most of their time in the Namibian bush and desert areas of which Damara and Kaokoland is Ingrid’s favourite.
Ingrid has developed a keen eye and unique “feel” to portray the desert and its creatures over the 25 years of frequent travels and has built up a unique collection of captured moments of the shy and elusive desert animals like the black rhino and desert lion and elephant and many others.
The hostile desert environment with its challenging conditions, harsh light and dusty , rocky, bone jarring, vehicle demolishing trails along with the shy, elusive and skittish behaviour of some animals and near on impossible tracking conditions makes each and every successfully captured moment an exciting personal fulfillment.
Ingrid, or Inki, favours still photography with the big cats and typical Namibian landscapes on top of her list.
Ingrid’s product brand “Ingrid Mandt Desert Collection” saw the light and, although she never planned to commercialise the hobby she cherished for so long, decided to offer her best work to the public and channel the proceeds towards the conservation efforts of the Desert Lion Project of Dr Philip Stander through donations and financing research and data collection and monitoring, animal/human conflict management with which she and her husband actively assist as volunteers.
She is an active lobbyist and campaigner for conservation of all animals and more specifically of the Desert Lion and Black Rhino in Namibia.
Just the mention of Canned Lion hunting and Big game trophy hunting gets her already warm German blood to boiling point in no time!!!