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The first step in my wildlife career

Siphiwe has just begun her wildlife career. As she looks forward to a promising future, she reflects on where she’s come from and how this experience will shape the guide she’s going to become.

Read time: 3 min

The Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College scholarship students celebrate joining the field guide course.

My name is Siphiwe Khoza, from Welverdiend village in South Africa. I’m one of the lucky four students that were awarded a full scholarship through the new Bushwise and the Southern African Wildlife College collaboration to start our wildlife career. 

There were 99 applicants, then 18 were selected for the interviews and only four of us made it (myself, Thinnah, Slon and Queeneth). It was not an easy journey, but I finally made it to the end.

The start of my wildlife career

A scarlet breasted sunbird sitting on a branch blooming with red flowers. 

I am so excited to be a field guide student and have a career in wildlife. I’ve always wished to study and have more knowledge and experience with wildlife and find employment in the guiding industry, sharing the information with others. 

There is a lot that I wish to share with the people in my village. I’m gaining more and more knowledge on a daily basis and seeing things differently from how I used to see them. 

We have amazing Bushwise trainers who do their job in an outstanding way. It seems quite impossible to train someone who knows nothing about wildlife in the period of six months and then become a pro at the end of the course, ready for a wildlife career. But it is possible with Bushwise trainers.

Learning more each and every day

A Bushwise trainer shows students a few of the important plants in the Lowveld.

I’m enjoying every second I get to spend here each and every day, from the classroom lessons to the game drives, doing different courses, and meeting new international friends – as the wildlife college accommodates students from all over the world. 

I have the coolest classmates ever. We have been sharing stories and experiences of our countries and getting to know each other. It is an amazing opportunity for me to get to know people from different backgrounds, as I’m going to work with different people after completing this course.

Incredible sightings on course

A herd of elephants walking along a road in a game reserve.

One of the best sightings we’ve ever had on a game drive was the day we came across a herd of 60 elephants from different age groups. It was the most amazing sighting we’ve ever seen at the water hole, with the matriarch leading the herd and the others following behind, making sure that no member is left behind. 

It was an amazing experience to see how elephants interact with one another. The same behavior that the herd of elephants does is the same behavior that our trainers do, they ensure that every learner is covered before we move on to the next module. 

Students training for a wildlife career observe an elephant from their game viewer in the reserve.

I remember one day when I was going through a tough personal situation, and I was the one driving that morning for three hours. I couldn’t even do my guiding in a professional way. 

After the end of each drive, we got feedback from the trainers and fellow students. This is really helpful because it gives us a chance to reflect on our performance and think of how we can get better. 

Growing in my wildlife career

A Bushwise student receives feedback from a trainer on her performance during a practice game drive. This is all an important part of training for a wildlife career.

After the feedback, it made me realise that life has some ups and downs, it changes like the weather. One day we have cool warm beautiful weather and the next day we have very bad weather, but we have to keep on going no matter how tough situations are.

I am now a strong woman who is ready to put a smile on my face and do my work with passion and enthusiasm no matter how tough life is. I am going to become a nature guide soon, and life will always have challenges that I have to face and overcome without my clients noticing. 

The author on her first step in her wildlife career, as she studies to become a safari guide.

All thanks to the Bushwise trainers for bringing back the confidence in me, turning metal into steel, from my weakest point to the strongest – just like a parent preparing a good future for her children.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me after the end of the course with all the knowledge and experience I’m gaining each and every day.




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