5 Unemployed, Rural People Carve Out a New Conservation Story for South Africa

The bizhub Conservation Academy is currently sponsoring its second group of rural adults through the pioneering ‘Introduction to Wildlife Monitoring’ programme (if you’re a first time reader, you will find a summary of the programme below).

As a reminder, the course recruits unemployed rural adults into a brand new programme that equips them with a combination of digital literacy skills (often needed for data capturing) and animal husbandry skills (as an introduction to working with rescued animals).

This second group of young adults recently completed their two-week internship at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary NPC, and, following their trip, shared some of the highlights of their experience.

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Lungile Mkhantshwa: More and more news has become centered around negative reporting, so much so that we forget that there are still so many positive things happening out there. The work that is happening at Care for Wild is one example of a miracle being done by humans for animals that is not spoken about enough. I have just realised how much responsibility this ‘Introduction to Wildlife Monitoring’ qualification places on me as a citizen of South Africa and as a member of my community. I wish we could have spent more than two weeks with Petronel and her team, but then again I don’t worry that we didn’t as I will have my whole career to spend around animals and nature as well as nature lovers.

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Mthokozisi Dube: When I was a young boy, I herded my grandfather’s cattle and that was my first encounter with nature and animals. My grandfather showed and taught me about all the corners of the mountains and the veld and all the animals that were found in that specific area. He also taught me about plants; the useful and poisonous ones. He taught me how to drink from a well without stirring the water, how to pick fruit from a tree without killing the plant and how to connect with the cows without getting hurt by them. That is all I had ever known about nature and conservation until I started the bizhub Conservation Academy Introduction to Wildlife Monitoring course. I had the most amazing connect with rhinos and saw white lions for the first time. Konica Minolta South Africa has unleashed a nature lover beast in me through this learning opportunity and I plan to use it to inspire more young people in Mpumalanga to explore beyond the stereotypical career paths we grow up with.

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Bonginhlanhla Ubisi: Going out to the bushes in the Care for Wild animal rehabilitation sanctuary is one of my best life experiences so far. We were welcomed with so much hospitality but a lot of hard work was done too. We had the opportunity to touch, feed, and care for rhinos for the first time in our lives, I mean who from the rural areas can say that they have sat in a boma where a rhino is before? Well now I can say it’s me. The work done by Good Work Foundation with the support of Konica Minolta South Africa is a life changer for South African young people, especially the ones living in remote areas.

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Fortunate Mathebula: After this amazing experience, working with one of the most inspiring women in South Africa, Petronel Nieuwoudt (founder of Care for Wild), I feel ready to put my jeans on, powder my nose, slip my boots on and begin to work towards saving our rhino and conserving our beautiful vegetation. From the first day I arrived at Care for Wild, Petronel just kept adding more reasons on my list as to why I have made the right career choice through her determined and positive mind set.

Founder of Care for Wild animal rehabilitation sanctuary Petronel Nieuwoudt: “For us it is really important to be part of a winning team who wants to empower young adults to be employable in their environment by taking hands with this amazing community project. We are not only uplifting people, we are also saving rhinos.”

About the Introduction to Wildlife Monitoring Course

Good Work Foundation’s (GWF) bizhub Conservation Academy adult students, sponsored by Konica Minolta South Africa (KMSA), are part of a pioneering new six-month course, called “Introduction to Wildlife Monitoring”. The course, intended to empower young, rural South Africans to be participants in the economy of wildlife and conservation, aims to blend digital learning and tech-skills with practical conservation experience.

Course modules include:

• International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) PowerPoint and Excel Advanced

• Field Guiding Association of South Africa (FGASA) Level 1

• First Aid Training Level 1

• Two-week animal husbandry internship at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary NPC, a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary

• English for access (Hands on English programme)

Written by Hazyview Media Agency.

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