WIL Student: Nature Conservation
Wade was born in 1996 and raised in Greenwood Park, Durban, where he attended Lyndhurst Primary School, Chelsea Preparatory School and Northwood Boys High School. In 2013, his family moved to Pretoria and in 2014 he matriculated from Pretoria Boys High.
Wade has always been interested in the natural world and has spoken about pursuing a career in nature conservation from a young age. His parents bought him his first pet snake a few weeks shy off his 6th birthday, and their love for traveling has afforded him many opportunities to experience Southern Africa’s cultural diversity and natural attractions in his relatively short lifetime.
In his gap year, Wade worked as a curator in the reptile department of the Chameleon Village Reptile and Conservation Park. In 2016, he enrolled for a national diploma in nature conservation at the Tshwane University you Technology. Wade worked part time as a river guide for Felix Unite River Adventures on the Orange River, going down often to guide for short spells between his studies. Upon completion of his university modules, he spent 6 months working as an au-pair. In 2019, Wade was selected as one of two students to do his Work Integrated Learning (WIL) year at Welgevonden Game Reserve as the final step to completing his diploma.
Wade enjoys playing indoor soccer, fishing, wildlife photography and traveling to different areas to find new bird, amphibian and reptile species. Wade’s main field of interest is reptiles, more specifically their ecology and their distributions.
Sam was born in Rochford, Essex, United Kingdom in 1991, his family moved to Durban, South Africa in 1994. He matriculated in 2009 from Crawford College, on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Prior to studying he was involved in a number of conservation initiatives particularly for a lesser known amphibian species and has a hobby for herpetology. After matriculation Samuel worked in various jobs in and around the greater Durban area before travelling to New Zealand for a short period. On his return, he followed his passion and completed his Diploma in Nature Conservation at the Saasveld Campus of the Nelson Mandela University, completing his practical component at Welgevonden Game Reserve. This led to Sam been appointed as the Conservation Officer for Welgevonden. Subsequent to this while working on the Reserve he completed his B-tech degree in Nature Conservation through the Tshwane University of Technology and was promoted to Manager for the Welgevonden conservation department.
Sam is responsible for overseeing the conservation department through the implementation and planning of various habitat modification projects including the Reserves ongoing plains project, alien plant control, game management and permitting.
Wildlife Protection Project Coordinator
Jess was born and raised in an agricultural town called Tzaneen. After matriculating from Merensky High School in 2011, she went on to study Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she was awarded an Honours bursary to help assess the ecological heath status of the Eastern Cape Forests, focusing specifically on local medicinal plant use and the impact of the “muthi” trade on plant diversity. .
Jess returned to the bush in 2017 where she completed a three-month ecological research internship at Somkhanda Game Reserve. She joined the Welgevonden Family later that year where she was initially employed to coordinate the Wildlife Protection Programme, later taking up the post of media coordinator and content developer, and WEAP facilitator. Her responsibilities include managing social media sites, documenting various management interventions at WGR, company communications, and creating and editing the reserve in-house magazine, TAILS.
Receptionist and Administration Assistant
Rebecca was born and educated in Johannesburg where she matriculated from Sunward Park High school in 2000. After school, she studied FGASA levels 1 and 2, where after she worked as a guide and later head guide at Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse in the Western Cape.
She moved to Vaalwater with her family in 2012 and was employed as the co-ordinator for the Waterberg Biosphere managing the Department of Environmental Affairs Youth Environmental Services project as well as the Medupi Leadership Initiative.
Rebecca joined Welgevonden on a permanent basis in June 2017. Rebecca is married with 2 children.
Chief Executive Officer
Shaun McCartney was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1961. After matriculating from Lyttelton Manor high school in Pretoria, he served as a commissioned officer in the SAAF between 1979-81. Shaun then went on to complete a diploma in forestry at Saasveld Forestry College (dux scholar in conservation), a certificate in water pollution management, a higher diploma in conservation management and in turn, an MSc in environmental management from the University of the Free State.
Shaun has served in various roles over the course of his career, ranging from conservation manager to general manager of a JSE listed corporate. He was recognised by the South African Institute of Forestry for ‘Excellence’ in conservation, and by the Forest Stewardship Council International for his outstanding contribution and commitment to responsible forest management worldwide.
He served as Welgevonden CEO between 2010 and 2014 after which he left to open his own business, a craft brewery in the town of Sabi, Mpumulanga. Here, he served as MD and Masterbrewer after being trained in the art of craft brewing in the UK. Although Shaun has retained his share in his gold medal winning brewery, he returned to Welgevonden in 2018 where he will continue to pursue his love for both people and wildlife.
Deputy Security Manager
Armstrong was born in 1997 in Elim in Limpopo. He attended Mbokota Primary School in Limpopo and later Maruatona Primary School and Tlhapi Moruwe Middle School in Mooinooi, North West matriculating at Rakgatla High School. Armstrong has had a passion for nature and its functions since he was young and decided to study Nature Conservation when he was 16 years old. In 2016 he enrolled for a National Diploma in Nature Conservation at Tshwane University of Technology. Armstrong was selected as one of two students to do his Working Integrated Learning (WIL) at Welgevonden Game Reserve for 2018 as the final step to completing his diploma.
Armstrong has a big interest in conservation research as well as the role of animals and birds within the environment.
Welgevonden Environmental Programme Co-Ordinator
Moji was born and raised in Maboloka near Brits in the North-West province, where he matriculated in 2001. His father played an integral part in his understanding of conservation and respect for the natural world. His belief that “we are one, and none is better than the other” has been well-engrained in Moji.
Moji started working as a welder in Brits immediately after high school, yet this didn’t diminish his childhood dream of working with wildlife. In his hometown, he did a computer course with Damelin in 2009, and a Procurement and Supply Chain Management course with the same institution in Randburg in 2013. He moved to Johannesburg in late 2012 where he spent five years and worked in various fields including sales, maintenance and production. At every opportunity he did environmental awareness using art and music to create environmental awareness in underprivileged communities. During the years that he spent in the city, he joined several well-known animal rights groups as a vocal activist on a voluntary basis. He helped organize events and led protests that sought to highlight the plight of animals and the environment as a whole.
Moji underwent a comprehensive anti-poaching training in Touwsrivier in the Western Cape, where he acquired vital skills in hand combat, scene-investigation, forms of patrols and the use of weaponry. He used these skills when he worked as part of a two-man anti-poaching unit at a rhino sanctuary in Limpopo province. These demanding responsibilities refined both his character and focus of protecting our precious heritage.
Assistant Volunteer Research Programme Coordinator
Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, Carmen matriculated from Pearson High School in 2009. With a sense of adventure and a curiosity seeded in childhood of farms and wildlife she decided to study the Game Ranch Management Diploma through the Nelson Mandela University at the Addo Campus thereafter completing the BTech qualification at the George (Saasveld) Campus. During the practical year of this course she was first introduced to a volunteer programme on a cheetah conservation project. She worked in the Great Karoo managing a wildlife volunteer programme and in Port Elizabeth for a tour operator before making the move up to the Waterberg to take up the position as Assistant Volunteer Research Coordinator at Welgevonden. Carmen has an enquiring interest in the effectiveness of conservation through various sustainable land use management practices.
Phillipa was born and raised in the United Kingdom first visiting South Africa in 2012 during her university studies as a research volunteer. During this time, her love of the bush was founded and took control of her career path. After graduating from University of Gloucestershire with a BSc (Hons) degree in Animal Biology in May 2014, she returned to South Africa to train as a field guide. Upon qualifying as field guide Phillipa assisted in founding Welgevonden’s Welgevonden Volunteer Research Programme and in November 2015 was appointed as Assistant Volunteer Research Programme Coordinator to assist with field-based activities for the volunteers.
Phillipa has a particular interest in mammal ecology and hopes to continue her academic journey during her time at Welgevonden. To combine her love of nature and to return to academia, she plans to undertake a Master’s degree in Nature Conservation and Ecology in the near future.
Workshop Administration and Management
Liezle was born and grew up in Pretoria, where she matriculated at Hoërskool Oos-Moot in 2000. After school she was employed by the SAPS Public Service for 6 years. She was stationed at the Crime Prevention & Operational Response Services Head Office in Pretoria where she filled the positions of Secretary to a Director, Admin Assistant, HRM and Senior Logistical Official. In 2007 she started at DLV Engineers as secretary and climbed the ladder until she was the executive secretary to the MD.
In August 2011 Liezle and her husband Kassie moved to Vaalwater and joined Quemic in their Welgevonden operations where Liezle worked as the wages and admin official for Quemic. After almost 2 years of service at Quemic she joined the Welgevonden Team. Liezle has recently been transferred to the Welgevonden workshop responsible for the administration and management thereof.
Senior Admin Assistant
Mariaan was born and educated in Natal where she matriculated from at Greytown High School in 1985.
After a stint in the army, she moved into administration working for Nissan and Parmalat for a number of years. In 2007, when her husband moved to Vaalwater, she came to Welgevonden as senior admin and accounts assistant.
Born in 1990 in Nelspruit Mdu completed is schooling years at Khutsalani School where he matriculated in 2009. Mdu developed an interest in conservation through his school years and became passionate about nature conservation with a dream of working in the field. This passion led to Mdu being appointed as the first student by the Southern African Wildlife College in Hoedspruit to do conservation guardianship. He graduated as the top student and was given a bursary to further his studies in Tshwane University of Technology. He chose a Diploma in Nature Conservation and completed his experiential training at Welgevonden Game Reserve.
His goal is to make a difference in the conservation industry with the ultimate goal of potentially specializing in water conservation in South Africa. Due to Mdu’s passion and dedication he was appointed Operations Officer after his practical year taking over the running of operations from the retiring Hennie Roets. Mdu is responsible for all road maintenance and water infrastructure and assists with conservation aspects of the reserve management.
Volunteer Research Programme Coordinator
Greg was born in Johannesburg and attended King Edward VII School where he matriculated in 1991. After completing a Diploma in Nature Conservation, Greg joined the South African Police Service where he spent 6 years before returning to the bush and continuing to study. After spending a number of years in various parts of South Africa he was appointed as the Ecology Manager of a private island in the Seychelles where he completed his Master’s degree on a little-known tarantula species. On his return from the Seychelles Greg spent 3 years in Botswana before being appointed as the Volunteer Research Programme Coordinator for Welgevonden. Greg has experience in setting up and running research programmes, managing game reserves as well as in guiding. Greg is a FGASA qualified Trails Guide and holds a Level 3 qualification with Specialised Skills and Knowledge in Dangerous Animals.
Greg is responsible for the management and development of the Welgevonden Volunteer Research Programme while at the same time collecting both monitoring and research data on the Reserve.
Workshop Supervisor and Mechanic
Koos was born, grew up and currently lives on the farm Uitval, which is close to the Reserve. He attended Hans Strijdom High School matriculating in 1979 and joined the permanent force with the Airfield Maintenance Unit, building and maintaining airfields throughout South Africa and Namibia. It was here he started his apprenticeship, and qualified in 1986, as both a petrol and diesel mechanic, specialising in earth moving equipment. Later he worked for Nissan South Africa in their Truck Division in the building and rebuilding of Samil 20, 50 and 100 trucks for the military as well as their Kwêvöel derivatives. He moved to Samancor Eastern Chrome, where he worked on underground drilling rigs, loaders, transport vehicles and pick-ups, primarily working on the electrical and hydraulic aspects.
At the end of 2016 he moved back to the farm Uitval and has assisted the Reserve workshop on a part time basis when required. He was employed as the Workshop Supervisor and Mechanic as of April 2017.
Finance and Administration Manager
Thinus was born in Welkom in 1990. He grew up and went to school in Carletonville matriculating in 2008. Thinus started his finance career in Johannesburg working at a medium sized audit firm while studying for his Bachelors of Accounting Science degree through UNISA, completing it in 2013. He completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Science in 2015. Thinus is currently continuing with his studies to become a registered Chartered Accountant.
Thinus has always had a love and passion for nature and numbers, he was appointed as the Financial and Administration Manager of Welgevonden in December 2017.
After matriculating, Jonathan pursued a career for 10 years in the electronics field of data processing and microprocessors in the Johannesburg area. During this period his passion for nature grew as a hobby to a point where he decided to give up the city in favour of a profession in wildlife research.
Jonathan went on to complete a B.Sc (Zoology and botany) through the University of South Africa (UNISA) while working as a field guide in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Thereafter he graduated with a B.Sc Honours before completing a six year study on the Behavioural Ecology of the Cape Pangolin for his M.Sc degree, which he obtained in 1996. Jonathan then conducted ecological research in the Sabi Sand reserve focusing on the effect of habitat manipulation on grazing suitability for plains game in conjunction with elephant impact on the vegetation. Through these studies Jonathan was appointed Ecologist for the Sabi Sand Game Reserve from 2003 to 2010. Jonathan accepted the post of Research Ecologist for Welgevonden Game Reserve in November 2011.
Chief Operating Officer
André was born in Johannesburg and matriculated from Blairgowrie High School in 1986. After school he completed a B.Sc degree in Zoology and Botany, as well as a B.Sc Honours degree in Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria. He spent 3 years in the Kruger National Parks studying the nutritional ecology of bushbuck and nyala. Thereafter he worked for a private landowner in the Klaserie Private Game Reserve for a little over 3 years, managing the property and camp, taking out childrens’ educational groups, guiding and hosting the owner’s guests.
André joined Welgevonden in June 1997 as Conservation Officer later becoming the Conservation Manager for the Reserve. He has also stood in as Acting General Manager. He is involved directly or indirectly in most aspects of the Reserves management and currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer.
Welgevonden Reaction Manager
Kassie was born in 1981 in Pretoria and attended Pretoria Technical High School in Pretoria Gardens. After finishing school in 1999 he joined the Fire Brigade as a reservist. In 2001 he joined a Cash-in-Transit company as a protection officer where he completed various courses in security and protection. In 2006 Kassie qualified in Firearms training and special tactics and became part of an elite training team in 2006.
Kassie joined QUEMIC’s training division in 2008 and moved to Welgevonden in June 2011 later becoming the QUEMIC Security Manager responsible for Welgevonden and all the associated anti-poaching and security.
Kassie now manages the company Welgevonden Reaction NPC, responsible for anti-poaching, access/ egress and fence maintenance on the reserve as well as co-managing the Greater Marakele Security Cluster initiative between Welgevonden, Marakele National Park and the surrounding areas.
Matthew Thorp was born in Midrand, Gauteng in 1995 and attended Kyalami Preparatory School and later went on to Matriculate at King Edwards VII School in Johannesburg. In 2013 he opted for a gap year and attended and completed a FGASA Limpopo Field Guiding Academy training course at Mabula Game Reserve which reinforced his decision to pursue a career in nature conservation. After his training was complete Matthew decided to backpack through Southern Africa using public transport before working as a field guide. He resigned to study for his National Diploma in Nature Conservation at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Matthew joined Welgevonden in January 2017 to complete his Work Integrated Learning practical year in order to complete his diploma. In August he was appointed as the Elephant Monitor looking at the elephant population structure, how and when elephants move on the Reserve and how they interact with vehicle, persons and infrastructure.
Matthew will be doing his B.Tech Nature Conservation part time next year while working as the Elephant Monitor.
Leanne grew up in the bushveld on a family farm near Thabazimbi, where her passion for animals and nature conservation was born. She matriculated from St Mary’s DSG in 2004, and completed her BRek Honours at Stellenbosch University.
Thereafter she moved to Johannesburg where she lived for 3 years while doing her articles at Deloitte and Touche. Once she had qualified as a Chartered Accountant, Leanne was seconded to Deloitte Milwaukee in the United States, where she performed audit work for 3 months before travelling around the Americas. She then worked for a few months on the family farm where she was involved in managing the rhino, buffalo, roan and sable herds on an administrative and practical level.
In March 2014, Leanne continued her career in finance by working for Janssen South Africa (affiliate of Johnson and Johnson) where she performed various financial management activities and was involved in the implementation of a new financial system.
Leanne was appointed as Finance and Administration Manager of Welgevonden Game Reserve in May 2015.