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Yours in Conservation: A Story by Kutlwano Mahube

This blog was written by Kutlwano Mahube, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student.

5 min read.

How it all began

Kutlwano with two of his fellow students on the Bushwise Mahlahla campus in South Africa. 

From early as I can remember, I have been surrounded by trees and animals as far as my legs could carry me. See, my father was an administration manager and my mother a tutor at the education centre. They both worked for the North West Parks Board (NWPB), and we were situated at the Pilanesberg National Reserve. We lived in staff house number 7 right inside the reserve! Besides my siblings and a couple of friends, I spent most of my time with my dog Rex taking him on walks or rather runs as he was having a blast chasing after tree squirrels.

Fast forward. I grew up, went to college to study information and communication technology. I worked as a waiter, barman and an administrator to name a few. During all of this time, I felt like I lacked work outdoors – which, come to think of it, has always been my real passion.

In 2019, an opportunity presented itself where I applied at Mankwe Game Trackers to become a Field Guide through a training initiative with aha, Tourvest and Bushwise. To cut the long story short, and of course after the Covid epidemic, I was finally selected as one of the candidates to come to the province of Limpopo to study for six months. Once I am done with my studies, I will go to  Mankwe Game Trackers to work – which is also in the Pilanesberg National Reserve. Talk about full circle!!!

Being camp manager

Kutlwano with two of his fellow students on the Bushwise Mahlahla campus in South Africa. 

I was the second last student to get the opportunity to become camp manager – which is to say our six months course was coming to an end. The week started on 8 May with the final theoretical exam on trails as well as rifle handling. This is a broad subject as it entails how you should conduct yourself on bush walks with guests. The rifle handling section covers all aspects from knowing every single part of a rifle to knowing how to handle encountering a charge from a potentially dangerous animal while with guests.

Later on in the day after brunch, we met up with Collin and Sam Patrick, who are one of the industry leaders with regards to track and sign, and trailing animals. My group and I did trails with Collin for the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, we were paid a visit from Alex the content guy and Annie from marketing both from Bushwise. I had an interesting chat with Annie in one of our trails sessions about vultures, which is a subject I am quite passionate about. She promised to connect me with an organisation that is involved in helping out with these endangered birds. A lot has to be advocated about these birds which play a vital role in our ecosystem.

Duties (Delegating)

The camp manager’s main responsibility really is to be a liaison between the trainers and their students. Everything from academic to personal is communicated from the students and trainers with the camp manager acting as the hub.

It has been often said by the trainers that the Bushwise Mahlahla students are a pretty chilled group. I can fully agree with that statement after being camp manager. We all get along with one another as well as the trainers with minimal drama. Being camp manager at the Mahlahla campus was a walk in the park with how well we supported each other. Everything ran like clockwork.

Highlights of this Bushwise course

Kultwano laughs at something said by another student, as he enjoys a cup of coffee in the bush.

EVERYTHING!!! I really enjoyed every moment of this course. The highs as well as the lows because you get to learn from your mistakes. The support from all my friends as well as my fellow colleagues was phenomenal. We are truly one big happy family. Overcoming all the obstacles made the stressful challenges worthwhile. 

I learned a lot about myself in the process as well. The game drives were exceptional. Learning about all the botany we were surrounded with as well as the role they play in the ecosystem and most importantly, their medicinal uses makes me think there must be a cure for every virus we encounter. The animals – tjoe! Where do I begin, from the Matabele ants to the heaviest land mammal on land, the African elephant, it has been a real treat to indulge myself in experiencing and learning about all these creatures.  

Start your adventure just like Kutlwano when you join a Bushwise course. One day soon you could begin your wildlife career.

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