A former participant of our Educational Kids Camp programme and Ambassador of our Environmental Club, Ncamisile Mpontshane, was selected for conservation training on Phinda Private Game Reserve, and has recently graduated as a Nature Guide through the Africa Foundation. She shares her experience with us below.
“It all started with an Environmental Club – an opportunity to join one of Wildlife ACT’s Conservation Ambassador Clubs – thanks to Thokozani Mlambo of Wildlife ACT’s Community Conservation Programme, who came up with the idea and encouraged us to join. I’ll be honest that when I first joined I had little interest in nature and the environment, but soon we were having bush walks with Thokozani and Makhosi Mpontshane (another of Wildlife ACT’s Community Conservation Liaison’s) – learning about the birds and the trees and the importance of keeping the environment we lived in clean.
I never knew that all of this would lead me to field guiding. It was in July 2020 when Thokozani sent us a post that was advertised by the Africa Foundation for guiding and I took my chances and applied for it. I got a call and was asked for an interview. I was excited and scared at the same time. The interview day finally came. There were many of us and I was the second in line. I went in, told them my story, and after a few weeks they called and told me that I passed the interview!
Our training course began with 5 of us. So much happened in a short period of time! I was involved in Rhino dehorning, monitoring, land management, maintenance, skinning and guiding. I never would have thought I would have the title: “Ncamisile Mpontshane: Nature Guide.”
Thank you to andBeyond and Phinda Private Game Reserve together with Africa Foundation for giving me a chance to learn and experience wildlife conservation, and thank you to Wildlife ACT, Thokozani Mlambo and Makhosi Mpontshane, who inspire the youth about their love of the environment and dedicate themselves towards positive change for the youth. I really appreciate this and will support Wildlife ACT anywhere if needed.”
Ncamisile Mpontshane comes from Mangwenya within the KwaJobe Traditional Authority which lies adjacent to uMkhuze Section iSimangaliso Wetland Park. She has been a member of Wildlife ACT’s Iceb’lihle Ambassador Club where she has dedicated to her time to learning more about conservation and the natural environment. These clubs form part of Wildlife ACT’s Community Conservation Programme, working at various age and experience levels in an effort to transform the conservation sector – providing links, guidance and opportunities for those inspired by the environment to enter the sector formally. By creating opportunities within the conservation sector, we aim move to a point where the benefits of wildlife can accrue locally rather than the status quo, where local residents experience few benefits and many of the costs.