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Budding wildlife conservationist and Hermanus resident Corne Uys is being celebrated for his courageous efforts during the Overstrand fires that reignited last week.

The 17-year-old braved the smoke and flames to save 33 tortoises and other wildlife during the height of the fires, which destroyed more than 30 homes, on Friday afternoon.

High winds reignited flames in Betty’s Bay, Franskraal and Hermanus and instead of running to safety, Uys spent three hours in and out of the fire on his rescue mission.

Uys says he and his father focused on helping tortoises because they are the slowest of the wildlife affected by the inferno.

The little animals were later released into the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

Uys, a local snake catcher and high school pupil, recounts how everything unfolded.

I'm a nature conservationist through and through and my first thought was the animals that were going to be affected by this fire.

Corne Uys, Hermanus resident and wildlife conservationist

I knew the area that was burning was a haven for tortoises. We immediately jumped into action.

Corne Uys, Hermanus resident and wildlife conservationist

The tortoises are the slowest of them all and I thought it would be best to focus on them.

Corne Uys, Hermanus resident and wildlife conservationist

I was just worried about the animals and I knew that many were going to die that day.

Corne Uys, Hermanus resident and wildlife conservationist

Follow his Facebook page, Corné Uys Outdoors.

Listen to him tell his inspiring story:

Image: Corné Uys on Facebook.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Teen conservationist turns hero saving tortoises from Overstrand fire

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