From cattle herder to field guide
Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week. This blog is by Slon Khoza.
3 min read
I’m from a village close to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. I grew up as a goat and cattle herder, and I used to walk along the fence line of Kruger a lot, which gave me the opportunity to see many interesting animals.
We never went into Kruger because it wasn’t easy for us. I once got an opportunity to go to Timbavati with an eco-school who took us on a game drive. That’s where my interest in conservation began and I wanted to become a field guide.
Following my passion for conservation
I worked for Conservation South Africa for three years and learned a lot during this time. Then one day I saw a post for a scholarship from the Southern African Wildlife College and Bushwise and I knew I had to apply. And much to my amazement, I got selected for an interview session and after a long journey I made it!
I started doing a course online with the Wildlife College, before joining Bushwise in person for training. I finally got a chance to take people on game drives, explore the natural environment with them, and share my knowledge about the bush. At the beginning I had doubts about whether I would be able to make it or not. But through the Bushwise course I have gained the confidence and knowledge to guide people, who have been happy with the information I shared with them.
The role of amazing trainers and mentors
The training facilities, support resources and mentorship of our trainers are all of a high standard. They are always willing to help when you’re struggling. For example, I was struggling with a module on birds, and the dedicated trainers helped me.
At first when I looked at the night sky, I was only able to identify the moon. With all the stars and constellations, I felt like I was looking at one big entity. Now, I am able to identify, point out and name most of the stars and planets.
The staff, trainers and students at Bushwise have become like a family to me. They are so supportive and we work well as a group – which is great because it shows that we’re all able to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
Being camp manager
Bushwise has a schedule that they use to make sure every student has a week to be camp manager. At the beginning I didn’t understand why because I had never been a manager of anything. So I wondered, how are we going to do this? But as time went on, I saw that the role wasn’t as difficult as I thought.
My week as a camp manager was during a week of FGASA assessments. During your week, you must make sure that everything goes well and if there are any challenges, you have to resolve them. I remember one morning we had to wait for our assessor to arrive at reception. I didn’t know what to do or what to offer, but thankfully we have a good trainer and he advised me to prepare a hot box to make things look professional and so that’s what I did.
When the assessor arrived, I offered him a hot coffee. He was so happy and reminded me of a chatting bird – a green woodhoopoe. After this I felt much better in my camp manager role and think it was a great experience.
Does this blog speak to you? You can become a field guide, just like Slon. Start your journey in field guide training.