Michelle Swemmer

Logistics & Assistant Manager: Zululand

I was born and raised in Durban, and by Standard 8 (or Grade 10 as it is now) I already knew that a 9 to 5 office job in the city was not for me. While finishing high school, I worked weekends as a volunteer at Sea World, spending many enjoyable, though messy hours, feeding the fish and cleaning the tanks! Most of my school holidays were spent either attending Eco-career camps or qualifying for my advanced open-water diving certification. Although I love the ocean and the many wonders that it contains, and have recently gained my skippers license, I’ve always felt a strong pull towards the “bush”, especially northern KwaZulu-Natal where I spent many happy family holidays.

My parents, nature lovers themselves, supported my quest for an “outdoor” career (though male dominated at that time), and after school I attended a 2 year Game Ranging, Lodge and Game Farm Management course which provided a general overview of the Eco-tourism industry. At the same time becoming an Honorary Officer (a volunteer) with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. I then spent 6 years as a Game Ranger / Field Guide on Big 5 Reserves in Zululand where I gained considerable experience and insight into the various aspects of Game Farming as well as Conservation needs and problems.

Although I enjoyed my work as a Field Guide, and interacting with visitors from around the World, it was during this time that I realized my main focus and passion was for the conservation and preservation of nature itself and all that it encompasses. I moved back home to Durban at the beginning of 2009, to further my training by enrolling for a degree in Nature Conservation through UNISA. However the call of the bush was too strong and it was while doing temporary work in Zululand, between my assignments and exams that I was fortunate enough to meet up with the team from Wildlife ACT. My position with them, monitoring the priority species while also hosting volunteers, is both interesting and fulfilling and still enables me to continue with my studies part time. Learning while contributing – the best of both worlds.

Find me on Facebook: Michelle Wildlife-ACT