As South Africa gears up to celebrate Youth Month, a group of hopefuls have qualified as nature guides from the Field Guides Association of South Africa.
Following the announcement of the three-year partnership between Somkhanda Community Game Reserve and Bhejane Nature Training in June 2020, Wildlands, a programme of the Wildtrust, said 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. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and its unprecedented challenges, Bhejane Nature Training took local community youth from the surrounding communities of Pongola, Kwalubisi and Dlakusa who were part of the Youth Employment Service (YES) 2020 group on 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 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,” said Christa Panos, Bhejane Nature Train-ing College principal.
“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.”
The newly qualiﬁed guides, Nomvelo Ngamandla, 27, Celimpilo Gumede, 24, Thuli Nxumalo, 23, Lindiwe Nkosi, 27, and Thembokhule Majozi, 22, were awarded with their certiﬁcates at a graduation event at the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve last week. They received their NQF level 2 Apprentice Field Guide qualiﬁcation and Wilderness First Aid certiﬁcation. Majozi commented: “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.”