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Ulovane Update: Local Community Benefits from Ulovane study Bursaries




A  field guide training facility in the Eastern Cape is upskilling members of the local community via a bursary program in an effort to improve effective, sustainable conservation and field guides in the area.

“A key component for the sustainability of conservation is to get members of the local community involved so that they can appreciate the benefits of conservation through employment and business opportunities as well as preserving our heritage for future generations,” says Schalk Pretorius of Ulovane Environmental Training – a field guide training academy close to Grahamstown, which trains the learners.

“We can learn from our past, a fine example are the Khoisan people. These nomadic hunter-gatherers lived in harmony with their environment, to the benefit of all species,” Pretorius explains. “This is in total contrast to the culture of consumption that has prevailed over the last century. We want the local community to realise how their skills and knowledge of nature can be channeled to the advantage of everyone. We have seen some amazing talent coming through the courses.”

The owners of the Amakhala Game Reserve put forward candidates for each one of the four intakes per year. Ulovane covers all the bursary recipients costs: these include examination, assessment and moderation fees and the registration costs for FGASA. Full board and lodging at Ulovane Campus and all tuition and excursion costs are covered and all FGASA manuals and workbooks, as well as all reference books, are supplied.

The quid pro quo is that Ulovane has access to Amakhala Game Reserve which is of benefit to Ulovane Environmental Training and enhances the quality of their courses. The Campus is situated on the Ulovane Reserve that shares borders with Amakhala and Kwantu Game Reserves. The bursary program is part of Ulovane’s traversing rights agreement and social responsibility initiative in the area. The courses on offer include field, trails, bird and marine guiding.

Four guides have already successfully come through the ranks – via means of the bursary – and are working in their chosen field on completion of the course.

Mzwanele Nokanda is the latest successful bursary recipient who will be joining Ulovane in October to complete the Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) course. Nokanda was previously the bartender at Leeuwenbosch Lodge on the Amakhala Game Reserve.

“We are very excited to have Mzwanele Nokanda with us,” Pretorius says. “He has been working at Leeuwenbosch for several years now and has been identified to have the necessary skills and interest to become a great guide.”

The first beneficiary of the Ulovane Bursary Initiative was Ouboet Zealand, who had been working on Amakhala Game Reserve before the reserve had even been established. He was identified as having great guiding skills plus an extensive understanding of the Reserve. A respected member of the community, Zealand now uses his guiding qualification – and the knowledge gained on the course – in his position as a legally registered guide at Leeuwenbosch Lodge.

Another recipient of the bursary was Melumsi Matiwane, previously a bartender at the local Sidbury Club. Matiwane is now using his guiding qualification at Woodbury Lodge on Amakhala Game Reserve.

Lungisile Nyawe was next to join the Ulovane team. Nyawe had been working in the Anti-Poaching Unit and was identified by the owners of Amakhala as having great potential. He is currently working as a guide at Quartermain’s Tented Camp.

Lucky Nokanda is the most recent candidate of the bursary scheme to have successfully acquired his FGASA Field Guide qualification. Prior to joining Ulovane he had – for many years – been the exclusive skipper, guiding boat cruises on the Bushman’s River in Amakhala Game Reserve. Lucky will be re-joining the Lion Roars Team as a fully-qualified guide where he hopes to use his newly-acquired skills whilst conducting guided experiences in the area.

 “There is so much talent and potential in our local community,” says Pretorius. “It is so rewarding to see these recipients honing their skills, applying the knowledge gained during the course – and then, suitably qualified, be able to improve their employment prospects. The job creation creates more breadwinners providing for their dependents.”

  • Thank you for the Press Release by the Take Note reputation Management and Schalk Pretorius

We are so proud of all of these passionate, inspiring guides!! Onwards and upwards!!

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela