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Finding my way home: My journey from Switzerland to the South African bushveld

This blog was written by Tecla Mohr, a Bushwise Professional Field Guide student. Each student takes a turn as camp manager, and writing a blog is part of the experience.

4 min read

Who am I?

When Bushwise assigned me to write a blog, I considered various topics, such as animals or messages, to share with the audience. However, I decided to introduce myself and reveal my true identity.  My name is Tecla, I am 31 years old, and I come from Switzerland, known for its chocolate and watches. Before discovering the South African bushveld, my life was typical of any other European. I lived with my parents in a nice flat, attended school, and spent evenings with friends.  How did a Swiss girl end up at the Bushwise camp in South Africa? This is a good question and all the answers will be revealed below. 

Although I appeared similar to my friends, I always felt out of place. When faced with the choice between spending a day shopping or hiking in the Alps, I always chose the latter.  I felt suffocated by the society I lived in and unable to express my true self. I grew up surrounded by animals such as cats, dogs, and rabbits. From a young age, I had a passion for animal welfare and dreamed of one day owning a zoo to save and protect them. 

The big change of life

I believe in destiny, and I think that each of us has a thread with a beginning and an end, leading us to where we are destined to be. My thread led me to South Africa. In this location, I have had the privilege of meeting people from diverse cultures and ethnicities, providing me with the opportunity to learn more about humanity. Additionally, I have had the fortune of working with a variety of wild animals, including lions, leopards, and hyenas, as well as smaller, harmless animals such as dwarf mongooses and vervets, which contributed to the project of my PhD.

Although South Africa was once my biggest dream, it also became my biggest fear. In recent years, I have faced significant personal challenges that have caused me to lose myself. I was never afraid of getting lost in the bush because, thankfully, my orientation skills have always been good enough. However, I never thought I would lose myself as a person. After almost eight years of working with wild animals in South Africa, it seemed like this dream was no longer achievable. 

After a car accident, I spent two months in bed with a broken back. For almost two years, I experienced instability and fear, despite doctors' attempts to provide hope for recovery. I struggled to regain my confidence and hope, but eventually some lovely people helped me. Through hard work and determination, I was able to return to my normal life, until the day I took the plane which brought me back into the bush. 

At first, It was not easy to return to my previous wildlife. I found myself unable to walk for hours, I could not carry heavy bags, and I needed frequent breaks during the day. Additionally, I think the hardest part was that due to all these limitations, I was unable to care for people. But as in all things the glass is not always half empty, in fact mine was becoming full again. I was back in South Africa and despite my fears I was once again surrounded by nature and animals, I was back and with the animals, my dream also returned. Am I now the same Tecla I was before? No, I acknowledge that I have undergone a transformation and become a new version of myself (I hope a better one) who recognises the fallibility of her body but is driven by her mind, motivation and dream.

The person I am today, and the person I will be in the future

And so here I am, writing this blog from the Bushwise camp classroom, learning and studying everything that surrounds me, so that one day I will have the opportunity to share my knowledge but also the emotions and adventures that this magnificent world has given me and that I hope I will continue to experience in the future. A friend once described me as "a South African girl born in the wrong country" and I think she was right because here in the bush I am at home.

Ready to embark on a life-changing journey of your own? Explore Bushwise programs today to experience the wonders of the South African bushveld firsthand.



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