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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Alumni

Past Bushwise student now working at the iconic Mala Mala Game Reserve

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

A past Bushwise student and recipient of the Annual Bushwise Scholarship Thabisani Buthelezi (Ernest), now works at the Iconic Mala Mala Game Reserve as a Field Guide.

Special family time on Safari

Ernest takes us through how he managed to secure himself a job as a Field guide at such an iconic and pristine piece of Africa. Amongst other things, Mala Mala Game Reserve is famous for being the oldest Private Game Reserve in the Southern Africa, having started eco-tourism safaris in 1960’s, it is indeed the birthplace of the safari industry in South Africa.

Leopards all day, every day

"I had been freelancing around the Lowveld when I read on Mala Mala’s website on their vacancy section that they were looking for a Field guide. The requirements were stated clearly on the website: FGASA L1, First Aid L2, Track & Sign Qualification, Advanced 4×4 Driving Certificate, knowledge of food and beverage.

Thanks to Bushwise, I had all the required qualifications that obviously put me in a more advantaged position. I was then invited for a 2-day interview, where they assess if you’re a nature enthusiast, and whether you have the passion and knowledge to provide a life enriching experience for their high profiled clientele."

Crossing the Sand river

My best experience so far is when I saw 9 different leopards, a herd of Sable antelopes, all during a three-hour game drive. Mala Mala is not only known for being the biggest and oldest private game reserve in the country, but also known for its unmatched game viewing. As far as game viewing goes, Mala Mala is right up there at the TOP. 

Mala Mala game viewing stats for 2018

My advice to aspiring guides out there is, never underestimate what you can achieve. Focus and never stop learning. I wouldn’t have achieved all this without the high-quality training from Bushwise Field Guides, thank you for the opportunity, thanks to the dedicated and experienced trainers who equipped me with knowledge and field experience. The advice and mentorship after I had finished the course has been very helping during the beginning of my guiding career.’

Thabisani (Ernest) Buthelezi

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