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Top 5 ways you can make a difference as a Nature Guide to help with Wildlife Conservation

Are Nature Guides good for Conservation?

One of the many questions we get asked at Bhejane Nature Training, is does being a really Nature Guide really with wildlife conservation?

Here are the top 5 ways you can make a difference as a nature guide.

Guides are Dreamweavers

One experience at a time opening a door to new realms, new worlds and new ways of experiencing the natural world.

When we change the way we look at the world, the world starts to change dramatically. Almost everyone that loves nature has seen a David Attenborough documentary.  His narration brings so much magic, insight and depth to the film. Can you imagine what that documentary would be like without his narration?  Guides bring this magic to their guests when they show them where to look, share little bits of information, at just the right time and leave their guests awe inspired about the wonders of nature. 

Just like the creative craft of David Attenborough and his team has inspired so many young people to follow a career devoted to nature, skilled guides turn “average Joe’s” into naturalists ready for their next learning experience every day.

Nature Guides are Trendsetters

How cool is it to have an appreciation for the outdoors – a reconnection with nature – as the trend you are setting!  Nature guides work in such amazing places and do so many exciting things. Almost everyone enjoys reading, watching or hearing about the amazing encounters guides have every day. Thanks to Social media platforms like Tiktok, Instagram and Youtube, these experiences become accessible to millions more people and not only the lucky 9 on the back of your game viewer for this morning’s drive.  Click through to some of the social media links below to share in some of our recent experiences.  

Nature Guides & Wildlife Conservation

Nature Guides help to shape the future

There is a popular saying in conservation – “if it pays, it stays”.  Enlightened guests that had unforgettable life experiences with guides, and a newly inspired online community eager to also come out and experience this refreshing trend to be in close to nature -is how guides ensure day by day to keep the demand for nature based experiences growing ,outcompeting other industries.

Nature Guides are Wildlife Monitors

Eyes in the field and feet on the ground makes for an enormous amount of patterns, and sighting information that makes its way to valuable research efforts on a daily basis. Guides contribute to the development of databases that help researchers learn more about so many wildlife populations and behaviours. Nature Guides help wildlife conservation projects in this way.

Nature Guides are Next-level Educators

Although many guides were probably the “cant sit still, cant focus and always in trouble” schoolkids that hated school, having the opportunity to touch so many lives by just sharing and living their passion – those same “always in trouble” kids from school become inspirational heroes to the next generation of kids.

There are many other ways that Nature Guides help Wildlife Conservation – can you think of any more?

About Bhejane:

Bhejane Nature Training is a FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) Endorsed Training Provider based in northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. We provide professional career training for nature guides, trails guides, marine guides, and conservation entrepreneurs! We also offer nature based, career development gap year programmes and a variety of short courses. Click through to our website to join us in Bhejane Territory.

Bhejane Youtube Link        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGnnCzVohMeT6xsUtI3ACvw/featured

Bhejane Facebook Link

https://www.facebook.com/bhejanenaturetraining/

Bhejane Website Link

https://www.bhejanenaturetraining.com/

Dylan uBhejane TikTok

https://www.tiktok.com/@dylanpanos?lang=en

Bhejane Instagram Link

https://www.instagram.com/bhejane_nature_training/?hl=en

Youth and Conservation WIN

Following the announcement of the 3-year partnership between Somkhanda Community Game Reserve and Bhejane Nature Training in June 2020, WILDLANDS, a programme of the WILDTRUST is excited to announce the first successful group of youth who have qualified as certified, FGASA (Field Guides Association of South Africa) Nature Guides.

Thembokuhle Majozi, Nomvelo Namandla, Lindiwe Nkosi, Bhejane Nature Training Assessor Dylan Panos and instructor Emilio van Dyk.

As South Africa gears up to celebrate Youth month, it is encouraging to witness positive stories which put youth empowerment, upskilling and employment at the forefront. South Africa has some of the highest youth unemployment rates globally with an estimated 58% of youth currently unemployed. This can be attributed to several factors including low education rates, lack of experience and a variety of socio-economic factors.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented challenges, Bhejane Nature Training took on local community youth from the surrounding communities of Pongola, KwaLubisi and Dlakusa who were part of the Youth Employment Services (YES) 2020 group into an intensive training course which included Track and Sign Interpretation, Wilderness First Aid, Weather and Climate, Geology, Astronomy, Ecology, Plant and Animal Studies as well as Guiding Skills.

The YES programme was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2018 which was a collaboration between Nedbank and YES. The aim of the programme is to reduce youth unemployment levels across South Africa by providing one-year quality work-placements aimed at affording practical and meaningful work experiences for unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 29.

“The process of getting the guides trained took just over a year due to the unfortunate interruption of COVID-19, however, we were very impressed with the commitment and the perseverance of the newly qualified guides. Even after being out of action for quite some time due to lockdown delays, it was clear that they developed a genuine interest in this field of study. This qualification means a lot to them and promises to open real employment opportunities for them in the conservation and Field Guide training sphere,” comments Christa Panos, Bhejane Nature Training College Principal. 

Lindiwe Nkosi, Nomvelo Ngamandla and Thembokhule Majozi on assessment with guests Keith and Michelle Dudgeon at Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.

The newly qualified guides, Nomvelo Ngamandla (aged 27), Celimpilo Gumede (aged 24), Thuli Nxumalo (aged 23), Lindiwe Nkosi (aged 27) and Thembokhule Majozi (aged 22) were awarded with their certificates at a low-key graduation event at Somkhanda Community Game Reserve this week. They received their NQF level 2 Apprentice Field Guide qualification and Wilderness First Aid certification.

Thembokuhle Majozi comments, “I would like to thank each and everyone who has had a hand in making this qualification possible. Thanks to Bhejane Nature Training, Somkhanda Game Reserve and WILDLANDS.”

Thembokuhle Majozi elated at receiving his certificates at Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.

Dr Roelie Kloppers, WILDTRUST CEO added, “We are incredibly proud of these newly qualified guides as they shine a beacon of hope for the future of wildlife conservation and the empowerment of youth as the future custodians of community led conservation. We are watching their development with a very keen interest and wish them all the best for the future.”

Bhejane Nature Training aims to provide students with a training and education environment that promotes internal growth and development beyond the youths’ career goals which is directly aligned with the WILDTRUST’s vision of a thriving and resilient world. This is also linking in with the YES4YOUTH objectives of giving youth meaningful work experience which adequately prepares them for the real working world. The WILDTRUST team is grateful to Nedbank for making this possible.

Bhejane Nature Training and Somkhanda wish these youth well in their conservation careers ahead.

(L) Bhejane Nature Training Instructor Lauren Humphreys, Nomvelo Ngamandla (centre) and Emilio van Dyk (Bhejane Nature Training Instructor)

How to Become a Fgasa Nature Guide

Being a FGASA Nature Guide is a dream job, envied by many. And for good reason. While it is certainly hard work, the rewards are numerous. Nature Guiding as a professional career has evolved steadily over the last two decades. Today it is a much sought-after career option all over Southern Africa.

Fgasa Nature Guide: Find Your Purpose
Is Nature Guiding your future?

Why Become a Fgasa Nature Guide

Fgasa is the most widely recognised standard setting and certification body for nature guides. It is enjoys recognition in Southern Africa and many other parts of the world.

Fgasa Nature Guide qualifications provides the perfect platform to launch your nature guiding career.

Bhejane’s Advanced Flagship Course

The Bhejane Nature Training Advanced Nature Guiding and Wildlife Conservation programme is a unique and comprehensive 3-year programme.

As the first of a new generation of industry orientated learning programmes, you will love you much fun learning is on this course. The programme combines the intimately related fields of Professional Nature Guiding, Conservation/Wildlife Management, Monitoring and Research, and Tourism and Hospitality. 

This enables the student to get a quality academic qualification whilst at the same time living and training in the bush. The 3 year programme is a good alternative to short informal bush courses with little value, or a lengthy academic programme that still leaves you unemployable.  

At Bhejane our focus is broader than simply training guides for prestigious and upmarket lodge environments.

Wildlife Tourism products are diverse and exciting! It follows naturally that your options for guiding are equally diverse and exciting. Bhejane prepare you as a nature guide so you get to know yourself better and find the correct niche in the industry that suits your unique personal and professional profile.

Do our fun quiz to find out what type of guide you could be.

FGASA Trails Guide Candidates

The Bhejane Playground

Bhejane’s commitment to purposeful career training will ensure that you can now do all of this in one place, gain valuable practical experience and qualify for an industry placement at the same time.

In addition to the benefits stated above, this is the only programme of its kind that prepares the student to work in both terrestrial and marine protected areas. Learn more about our exciting camps and courses here.

Fgasa Nature Guide
Open Water Diving on the FGASA Marine Guide Course

Base in Northern Zululand and bordering the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park the college could hardly be in a better place.  Widely recognised as an area of unrivalled biodiversity, this offers the opportunity to live, study and work in one of the most diverse natural environments in Southern Africa.

The programme is suitable for anyone that is interested in working in Wildlife Tourism and Conservation, either as a Professional Nature Guide, Wildlife Monitor, Research Assistant, Conservation Volunteer Coordinator, Marine Guide or Conservation Entrepreneur. The course caters specifically for students that want more than an entry level guiding qualification, and is looking for a more practical training approach than what is available through traditional academic qualifications. Download our Career Fact Sheets here.

Fgasa Nature Guide

Bhejane Nature Training is a fully endorsed FGASA Training Provider. (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa)

Join us today, to become a part of the Zululand Conservation Legacy . . . 

For more information contact Bhejane Nature Training at info@bhejanenaturetraining.com or go to our website, https://www.bhejanenaturetraining.com/

Michelle Garforth-Venter on her Bhejane Experience

This is a bit of a throwback to 2010, when husband and wife team Michelle and Riaan Garforth Venter , and sidekick Nicola completed their FGASA Field guide training course with us at Bhejane Nature Training. We really enjoyed having them on the course -it was a blast start to finish! Very entertaining bunch.

This is what Michelle had to say about her experience.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and there’s a knock on my door. The sun is just starting to warm the Acacia tops here in Zululand.  It’s time for another 5km walk and I still can’t believe that I am six months pregnant and my feet barely fit into my boots.  The motivation of knowing that I’m almost a FGASA level one qualified ‘Dangerous Game Field’ guide is what propels me from my bed and into the shower.  It’s what I’ve been working towards for almost two years.

When I started the tv show Wild Ltd 1 in 2004, I never knew the profound impact it would have on my life and before long we were knee deep in production for Bush Radar, our children’s series.  The culmination of these two series has meant that I spend almost two weeks a month in the bush.

Wild Ltd has grown from strength to strength, with our viewership now sitting at a staggering 1.4 million people per week.  That is more than a million people each week listening to our conservation message, and this is what sparked the original idea that I needed to become qualified.  As a media figure, I need to speak from a place of knowledge, ensuring the information I’m presenting is factually correct.  We have a lot of researchers and journalists watching the show and it would be a tragedy if we were to give out the incorrect information, facts and figures.
I joined FGASA, as it is the regulating authority for nature guides in this country and the course makes practical experience mandatory, which for me was the deciding factor. We started with Mark Lowes who accompanied us on shoots and sat down for lectures after we had filmed and did practical walks whenever possible.  Unfortunately our shoot schedule was just too hectic to continue in this manner. 

My producer, Nicola, found an advertisement for Bhejane Nature Training in Zululand.  This suited me perfectly as I was pregnant and this is a low malaria area.  Riaan, my husband, myself and Nicola took time off work to complete the course. Dylan Panos is the head ranger and along with his team went out of their way to ensure my comfort.  We would start out with a morning walk with him and ended up never walking more than 3 km’s, because we were asking so many questions.  After breakfast we would have lectures and study time and boy – did we study – we were so nervous about the test.  Dylan and his wife Christa also had module specific lecturers join us for certain parts of the course. Herpetologists, geologists and ornithologists added to our fast growing knowledge of the South African bush.

Needless to say, the day before and the morning of the exam were very stressful but we passed it with flying colours.  I’m already seeing the benefits of the course in our everyday work.

We are now working on the new season of Bush Radar and are already implementing our new knowledge into the tv series.
It has been paramount for us to not only learn from the course and the incredible people who have shared their knowledge and talent with us but through these amazing people who fight the good fight of conservation, we are now able to send out an even stronger message to tv audiences.

Field Guide Student News (July & August 2020)

After a rough year due to the pandemic, camp life turned out to be far more than our field guide students expected. Although there are no dangerous animals in camp, you can never stop a leopard. They roam where they want to.

Field Guide Camp Life

Every day camp life is never boring. There is always something new to learn or see. But we weren’t expecting to see all this leopard activity.

Our students have been blessed with experiencing regular leopard activity in and around the Gobandlovu Base Camp. This has been one of the highlights for them this year.

One of our Career Development Course Students, Kyla Labuschagne, posted the updates below after finding fresh leopard tracks and dragmarks.

Leopard drag marks from an Impala kill the night before, at Gobandlovu Base Camp
Captured by one of the Camera Traps on Kuleni

With student life getting back into full swing, the Angasi group has been getting the Activity Center ready again. They are in charge of planning and running early morning activities for all students in camp. Ensuring we don’t miss out on any fun.

There has been a few highlights during the morning guided activities and the leopard activity has certainly made the Track and Sign activities more exciting.

Carmen, Kyla, Daniel, Warrick and Tyler after their morning walk, highlights were trailing the leopard and a great Gorgeous Bush Shrike sigting.
Piet, Misae, Alicia and Rikus after a successful morning trailing the leopard.

Daphne, Daniel, Tommy, Pierre and Alica enjoyed a great and unique sighting of a nesting pair of Grey Sunbirds. The morning mission was to find Pink Throated Twinspot, which eluded them but they were rewarded with nice Purple Crested Turaco display on a Marula Tree – always such a beautiful bird to see!

Bhejane Nature training is situated in Kuleni Game Park and as tourism is slowly starting to pick up, our Bhejane students are excited to share their knowledge and skills with local guests. Surely the guests will be entertained with a few leopard stories in the conversations.

Team News July & August 2020

Like many other business, we have also suffered substantial losses due to Covid 19, and have had to reduce our team substantially. Only a small essential staff compliment was allowed back at work in July and August and we are very grateful for the valuable contribution of the intern team over this period as well.

Interns jumping in to assist with meal prep
Student Kitchen got cleaned and repacked – hoping it will stay like this for a while.
Activity Centre got rearranged and library moved over.

July saw the start of an unusually small Professional Field GUide Course, due to the many cancellations enforced by travel restrictions. This however provided an early opportunity for our two newest interns, Thando from Kosi Bay and Nosipho from Ermelo, to join the group and complete their NQF 2 Apprentice Field Guide Qualification. Both have worked really hard to earn their places, and have successfully written their FGASA Theory Exams. With only the practical assessment ahead of them, we look forward to announcing them soon as fully qualified guides.

Thando’s dream is to join in the footsteps of her late father who worked as a guide in the Kosi Bay area. She will be staying with us for the foreseeable future in order to complete her Marine Qualification, after which we hope to see her start a successful career in Kosi Bay.

Nosipho’s passion is for the dusty ground! After her second work period she will proceed with the Apprentice Trails Qualification.

Nosipho and Thando having some coffee to warm up a cold winters morning on practical.
The Ingulule Group with instructor Stephen Ingram and guest and ex Bhejane Intern Ncgebo Mhlambo

We look forward to welcoming more staff back in September / October!

Bhejane Fortuner is not so fortunate!

Certainly one of the most reliable “members” of the Bhejane Team is the Fortuner doing many of the supply runs and transfer trips. The Fortuner however is currently out of action after real Bhejane encounter! Whilst helping with a Rhino dehorning operation at Somkhanda, Dylan and the Angasi returned to the spot where the vehicle was left – only to find this sight! It seems the vehicle ended up in the path of the rhino as it was being pursued by the helicopter, and it it took some time out to leave its mark! We hope to have the Fortuner back in operation as soon as possible!

Dylan with the defaced Fortuner.

Industry News July & August 2020

Students in Industry

With most guides being at home over July and August – we look forward to the domestic travel industry slowly gaining some momentum and giving all our guides the opportunity to get back to work again! The current 3rd Year Group, has not seen much industry time at all yet due to the national lockdown, and we will postpone their graduation into 2021 to give everyone the opportunity to gain some meaningful industry experience first.

Since FGASA training providers were allowed to start training again in June, and most guides were not yet working, we also enjoyed having quite a few of the guides in industry from previous years and courses back in camp to renew shooting qualifications, gain mentored trails hours and assist with watching the camp over quiet times. It was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone.

Wildlands / Somkhanda Partnership

We have been fortunate in 2020 to build a really exciting working relationship with the Wildlands Trust and Somkhanda Game Reserve teams. As part of this partnership, we have been working with a group of guide trainee candidates from the local community. Somkhanda Game Reserve is a Community owned reserve, and Wildlands Trust is the managing partner that manages the reserve and ensures its successful conservation. From an initial group of 12, we currently have a group of 5 completing their NQF 2 FGASA Apprentice Field Guide Qualifications with Bhejane. The group has been very enthusiastic and we are looking forward to the upcoming assessment period for this group and wish them all the best in their preparation. The 2nd Year Angasi group as well as the Bhejane intern team has learned much from this group – being locally born and bred they come with some extra history on the area and its people. In turn the Angasi and Interns also had the opportunity to showcase their skills and was involved in organizing and running a number of skills challenges for the group to promote fun and interactive learning!

The Wildlands team has been working hard to make this training possible and we hope that this will be just the start of a successful career journey for all the candidates involved. We are also grateful to FGASA for contributing the Registration and Subscription fees for the candidates to make registration and NQF 2 assessments possible.

Bhejane Angasi with the Yes group after a skills challenge.

The WIldlands/ Somkhanda Yes Group with their FGASA Manuals, ready to start learning.
Working on Team Challenges

Field News July & August 2020

Angasi Updates

The Angasi is the 2nd year group of the Bhejane 3 Year Advanced Course. They returned late in June to resume their fragmented second year! The months over April, May and June are usually when the students assist in various reserve and conservation management tasks. This year the Isimangaliso Whale Monitoring Project was unfortunately cancelled due to COvid 19, however the students were very fortunate to have still been able to participate in the KZN Wildlife Game Count project at Mkuze Game Reserve. This was an intensive two week period with many hours spent in the field every day! This is also an unsupervised practical, meaning the students are required to cook for themselves and with so many hours out in the field, and then having very limited time to plan, cook and clean, this practical is often a real test of character for students and often a great learning experienced in many ways. The EKZN WIldlife Team supervises all field activities so this is well supervised.

In addition to Game Counts, we are also very grateful to Somkhanda Reserve Manager Meiring Prinsloo, that allowed our group to participate in and learn from the reserve;s field staff on a variety of activities. Most notably road and fence maintenance. These are two high priority tasks on any game reserve, that need constant attention and we hope the students were able to contribute positively in the few weeks that they assisted.

In what was an extremely practical 2nd term, the students also managed to get in a good amount of field hours with their instructors, and also were lucky to be able to gain quite a few very valuable mentored guest hours as well. The group got the opportunity to host Wildlands Trust CEO – Roelie Kloppers, and Somkhanda Reserve Manager Meiring Prinsloo on a sleepout as part of a fundraising project. They also managed to join as 2nd rifle guides on many guest walks with instructors Dylan Panos and Stephen Ingram, and walked a variety of interesting guest groups. The opportunity to gain mentored guest hours in the second year of the course, is one of the key advantages of doing the longer 3 year course. For many guides in industry, it is the lack of opportunity to do this – since it often has to be done during off days at an extra expense – that prevents them from progressing to Lead Trails Guide. We still have a few months to go, and hopefully many guests to take out to help our current 2nd year group get the most out of their time with us.

Tommy with guests on a mentored walk.
Hosting the Wildlands and Somkhanda Group
Warwick and Jess with a guest group, getting ready for a mentored walk.
Tegan, Kayla and Rikus hard at work on the Sleepout.
Warrick and Jess with their Guests
Christiaan on the sleepout walk.

Ukuhlukile Year 1

The First Year group – Ukuhlukile started their post lockdown training with completion of their NQF 2 Practical assessments. The full group managed to pass all theory and practical assessments! Well done Ukuhlukile! They then joined forces with the Imvubu 1 year PNG Group and completed their Apprentice Trails Guide Course. Trails Guiding starts with 2-3 weeks of Rifle Training during which the students complete their PFTC (Professional Firearm Trainers Council) qualifications. The PFTC Qualifications form the legal basis for firearm training and must be done first before we can proceed with FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling, known in short as ARH. PFTC and ARH Training is a lot of fun, but also quite serious business. It requires focussed attention, awareness, good physical strength and fitness and the ability to perform under pressure.

Connor and Tyler demonstrate one of the firearm drills

The Trails practical was very successful with students walking on average 8 hours a day and getting some really good encounters. Students must walk for a minimum prescribed amount of hours and log at least 10 encounters as participants in the group in order to qualify for Apprentice Trails Guide evaluation.

Connor helping Daphne to gear up!
Ukuhlukile / Imvubu Apprentice Trails Guides
Sicelo, Piet, David and Jordan

Ingulule Updates

The Ingulule Group was supposed to start their Course in May this year and finally got going in July after the lockdown regulations lifted! The last two months saw them doing their NQF 2 Apprentice Field Guide Course. We still have practical assessments ahead but they all recently passed their theory examinations! Well done Ukuhlukile. As soon as the practical assessments are done, they group will start with their Apprentice Trails Guide Course.

On Game Drive – Ryan, Dylan, Nosipho and Thando
A head-scratcher on the Slide and Sound Challenge!
Spending some time with Ngcebo

Marine News July & August 2020

Running the first marine course post lockdown was a daunting task! Our usual practical camp sites were not yet open for business, and with no real news on when we will be allowed access to beaches for beach and rocky shore practicals as well as the water based activities, it was a daunting task to plan for this course. We are extremely grateful to Heinrich and team at Isibindi Africa Lodges and in particular Thonga Beach Lodge for their assistance in making sure our Beach Practical Camp can happen! We were also fortunate to have Sthembiso – one of the Thonga Guides, attend the course with our group, and it was great to get some of the local stories and information from him.

Well done to all students that passed both Theory and Practical assessments on this one of a kind course!

On the deck at Thonga Beach Lodge – we camped next door at Mabibi – a truly magical spot!
Exploring the Raffia Palm Forest is always a course highlight!
God Knows Tuck Shop! A traditional stop on practical outings.

We are also grateful to Adventure Mania from Sodwana Bay that was able to assist us with the Diving Component of the course. We have been exploring more options in Sodwana and have really enjoyed working with Reef Teach and the Adventure Mania Crews and look forward to many dives with them both going forward. The Bhejane Dive crew has also been working on putting all the pieces in place to start offering the full PADI Dive Master Qualification to our 2nd Year Students as an option for those specialising in Marine. We hope to run the first pilot now in 2020 and go full steam ahead in 2021 qualifying Bhejane Dive Masters!

Launching with Jacques from Adventure Mania.
PADI and Bhejane Instructor Nicole, teaching Open Water Skills in the pool before hitting the ocean.
Snorkel briefing on the Mabibi Beach before heading into the water.

The whole Bhejane student community also had the opportunity to get involved in a large scale beach cleanup with the Isimangaliso Wetland Park authority, and the dive operators in Sodwana. Pollution of our oceans is a very real concern and one that needs constant care and attention! We took part in two beach clean-ups in the last two months and hope to fit in a few more for 2020!

What is a PADI Dive Master?

Becoming a PADI Dive Master is the first step towards a career as a Marine and Dive Professional. A Dive Master is able to plan and lead a group of divers on a dive. If you are registered on the Bhejane 3 year Course, you will already have the opportunity to qualify as a Rescue Diver. Become a Dive Master is the next step from there, but while you can progress swiftly from Open Water, to Advanced to Rescue, Dive Master is a step towards becoming professional and taking responsibility for others, so experience is key! To start your training as a Dive Master you must have already logged a minimum of 50 dives. It is good as a pro tip to remember that when a standard requires a certain amount of minimum hours, it is exactly that – the bare minimum! Your personal goal should always be to aim for more, and to qualify with far more than the minimum required. To this end we have started a Bhejane Dive Club, to enable students to make good use of weekends and off days to log some extra dives! Nicole – our in house PADI instructor, supervises the Dive Club, with the help of the 2nd Year Group in the Activity Centre, and work hard to get good rates to make this an affordable way to get your required experience dives!

Once you have logged the required experience, you can commence with Dive Master Training. It is an intensive but fun course with no shortcuts! When we assume leadership roles in any activity, a new level of personal commitment is required and the Dive Master Training programme will require you to step up to showcase your commitment and professionalism on a new level.

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Camp News July / August 2020

The Khoffee Khaya Vision!

After a long and very uncertain lockdown period, the Bhejane camp slowly kicked into gear again as students started rejoining for courses! We have made a really big effort this year to take our little tuck shop to the next level – and that gave birth to what has now very proudly become Khoffee Khaya!

Khoffee Khaya is a concept that has been long in the making! It started simply as a desire to make camp life a little more colourful during off days and especially for those that could not get to town but it was soon identified as a really good tool to help us achieve our community training goals! After about 18 months of operation, Khoffee Khaya is now 100% run by our intern team, and the little bit of revenue generated here, goes toward supporting the learning programmes of the intern team. They are therefore truly working for themselves and gaining some entrepreneurial skills along the way! Even though it is still a baby, we are very excited to keep growing the Khoffee Khaya / Intern project and looking forward to writing about the amazing careers that started here.

Reading Night – with candles, smores and Hot Chocolate!

Khoffee Khaya had a bunch of first milestones achieved in the short period past lockdown! Student Katinka Soller took the lead in getting involved in the shop, and baked some brownies to sell in the shop! Part of the Khoffee Khaya goal is to be the platform for a mutually beneficial network of partnerships between Bhejane and the student community! All students are encouraged to use the shop to trade their products!

Another first, inspired by the suggestion from Student Prakash Kannan, was the very first Reading Night! This was a great success. While story-telling is a much needed guiding skill, this was more about connection and sharing what is important to you. All students were given the opportunity to contribute and simply share what they loved!

Nicole is the Khoffee Khaya Manager – are you thinking of making your own weekend money? Get in touch with Nicole to brainstorm some ideas of what you can sell via the Khoffee Khaya Platform!

Contact Khoffee Khaya on Whatsapp to get involved!

079 510 8729

Follow Khoffee Khaya on Instagram!

News from The Bhejane Outpost Camp at Somkhanda

With many weeks of no activity at camp, we soon found out when we returned to normal operations, that we have to reclaim our space! The young and very curios lions on the reserve kept things very interesting at the Outpost on Somkhanda! If you have not seen it – watch 2nd year student Pierre Barauss meal time tussle with a female lion visitor!

Thats my Potjie! Video by Pierre Barau

We have spent every spare minute updating and making the Somkhanda camp feel more homely! Student Misae has done an excellent job adding some decorative elements to the central dining area, and the 2nd Year Angasi Team has put in enough blood, sweat and muscle to truly call this their camp! We hope they will leave Bhejane with many happy memories as the first senior group of the Bhejane Outpost! A big thanks also to Ncgebo Mhlambo – ex Bhejane Intern now guiding at Ndaka Game Lodge in Nambithi – who spent much of his lockdown time with us and showed us how to build a traditional Zulu fence in front of our birdbath at the dining area.

Students working in the dinning lapa at the Outpost.
Ncebo with instructor Stephen Ingram and the Ingulule Group
Leopard captured on a camera trap near the camp.

We have installed a few camera traps around camp to keep an eye on what is happening around us, and some of the highlights were Leopard, Brown Hyena, Serval and Bushpig. No traps are needed to observe the lions that have been hanging out around the camp, and it seems the elephants have now also discovered an additional source of water in the camp jojo tanks! We are grateful for all the volunteers, interns and ex-students that helped us keep an eye here over the quiet times to make sure everything stays in tact!