In January this year, Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College launched an exciting new collaboration. With a shared goal of positive transformation in the field guiding industry, our two organisations are helping to pave the way for more accessible and inclusive career paths for aspiring guides.
At the heart of this transformation is a call to create more local employment opportunities by training candidates from communities around Kruger National Park. We are excited to introduce four students who are currently on full scholarships, sponsored through this collaboration. Please join us in welcoming Queeneth Seepano, Slon Khoza, Thinnah Mbombi and Siphiwe Khoza!
Let’s get to know these future field guides a little bit better. Slon, Queeneth, Thinnah and Siphiwe were part of the SAWC’s Youth Access Bridging Course. They were selected to continue their training as Apprentice Field Guides, under the expert guidance of Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College. At the end of this training, selected individuals may go on to become assistant or junior trainers.
In their first week on course, we asked all the field guide students the following questions: “Why do you want to become a field guide?” and “Why are you doing this course?” Let’s see what our four featured students had to say…
Queeneth (Welverdiend, Mpumalanga): “This is a great honour for me – I’m very excited. I am a nature lover. Being out in the bush with wildlife really cools me down. I’m doing this course with the hope that someday I will be a field guide, a professional one and a birder. This is a step for me to reach the level that will qualify me to be a trainer one day.”
Slon (Welverdiend, Mpumalanga): “I am proud to be selected for this course. I want to be a teacher in conservation, to meet people from different cultures, traditions, countries and places. I find field guiding to be a foundation to pave my career, that is why I chose to do this.”
Thinnah (Giyani, Limpopo): “This course means a lot to me because it gives me a chance to conserve nature. I come from a village where there is a game reserve and I grew up around nature most of the time. I learnt a lot about nature and conserving it – being given a chance to become a field guide means a lot to me.”
Siphiwe (Welverdiend, Mpumalanga): “I come from a village with unity. A village where we still believe in the use of natural resources. I have a passion for wildlife and I want to be out in the bush – exploring and gathering information to share with my guests and my community. I believe I can change their perception, which can help in the sustainable use of natural resources, to be preserved for future conservation.”
As excited as our students are for this opportunity, we’re even more excited to see them grow as field guides.
Through this collaboration between Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College, we’re bolstered in our determination to transform the field guiding industry. We hope to see an increase in field guides coming from local communities, bringing with them valuable local knowledge and experience.
Our major goal is to provide sustainable opportunities to participants’ families and contribute to diversity in the industry. Together, we’re training future ambassadors of the natural world to become world-class field guides.
We’re excited to see how the Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College collaboration will impact the guiding industry. Follow Bushwise and check our blogs regularly to see what Slon, Thinnah, Siphiwe and Queeneth get up to on campus over the next six months!
Words by Annie DuPre, photos by Louise Pavid and the SAWC