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Thuto-Boago Ngongwane was born in Kimberley in the Northern Cape province and raised in Taung Village (home) in the North West province. He grew up under the guidance and care of his grandparents, who taught and moulded him to be the person he is today. The love he has developed for nature started at home, driven the responsibilities of by farm life. This love grew further visiting his mother in Mokala National Park.
Thuto decided to pursue Nature Conservation chasing the passion and need to protect nature, in its full capacity, in this ever-changing world we live in today. After completing his WIL year on Welgevonden Game Reserve he stayed on assisting in the Research camp.
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.
Carmen 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.
Margerie Aucamp was born on the 19th of March 1990 in Pretoria. Driven by her passion for wildlife, she went on to obtain a Diploma in Nature Management and later kick started her career at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre. Hereafter, she went on to guide at Pilanesberg Game Reserve for three years where she realised her passion for scenic and wildlife photography.
Margerie joined the Welgevonden team in 2019 where she is employed as a volunteer research programme coordinator. She has a great passion for both nature and people, making this the perfect fit.
Chief Executive Officer
Born in Johannesburg and having matriculated from Blairgowrie High School in 1986 André completed a B.Sc degree in Zoology and Botany, as well as a B.Sc. Honours in Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria. Thereafter he spent 3 years in the Kruger National Park studying the nutritional ecology of bushbuck and nyala at Pafuri while at the same time being involved in and being exposed to all aspects of wildlife management in the Kruger. A move to the Klaserie Private Game Reserve managing a private property and camp, taking out childrens’ educational groups, guiding and hosting the owner’s guests kept him busy for approximately three years.
In June 1997 André joined Welgevonden as the Conservation Officer later becoming the Conservation Manager for the Reserve. He also stood in as Acting General Manager for 6 months in 2012 and in March 2014 was appointed Chief Operating Officer where he became responsible and/or involved directly or indirectly in the majority of aspects relating to the Reserve’s management. After a full 24 years on Welgevonden André took up the role of Chief Executive Officer.
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Welgevonden Environmental Awareness Programme (WEAP) Coordinator
Moji grew up near Brits in the North West province of South Africa where he matriculated in 2001. He has always wanted to be involved with environmental education for community youth. After he matriculated, he worked at a factory and in his spare time he was heavily involved in anti-poaching activism, organising rallies and protests to take a stand against the rhino poaching crisis. This led to the pursuit of a career in anti-poaching, with Moji taking up a position as an anti-poaching ranger in 2009 based in Naboomspruit, after which he received his qualification. His love and passion for the environment drove him to take up the position as the WEAP coordinator in 2017, where he has since thrived, living out his dream of bringing environmental education to the youth and impacting lives in the surrounding community.
Mongezi Nene was born and raised in the small town of Nongoma, Kwazulu Natal. After matriculating from Mlokothwa High School, he went on to study Nature Conservation at Tshwane University of Technology. In 2017, Mongezi was appointed as a WIL student at Welgevonden in 2017, later moving into the security department in 2018 where now manages the Joint Operations Centre (JOC).
Mongezi’s responsibilities include effectively monitoring the daily security operations on the reserve, and ensuring cooperation and effective communication within the Greater Marakele Security Cluster. The JOC serves to ensure that every occurrence, incident or event of any kind is handled fitly.
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.
Reception & Administration Assistant
Johanna was born and educated in Vaalwater for both primary and high school. She furthered her schooling at Tshwane University of Technology where she obtained a National Diploma in Human Resources and Management with payroll certificates.
Her internship was completed in Kruger National Park based at Skukuza camp after which she was employed at Absa Bank, where she worked from 2015 – 2021. She joined Welgevonden Game Reserve as the Reception and Administration Assistant in April 2021.
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Fredwin was born in Nuwerus and raised in Strandfontein in the Western Cape. His intrigue with nature started early with his love for the Knysna forests. He initially pursued a career path in IT but soon realized that this was not the right path and returned once again to his love of nature. His desire to gain as much experience with the outside world as possible has now led him to pursue Nature Conservation studies at Nelson Mandela University George campus, where he is currently a third-year student completing his Work Integrated learning year at the Reserve. Fredwin aims to become a researcher and wants to pursue his master’s degree, perhaps in a conservation ecology field as this is his favourite subject. Ultimately, he wishes to leave behind a more sustainable environment that future generations can benefit from.
Tessa grew up in the city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, but has always felt more at home in bushveld. Her passion for nature was driven by her mother who is an avid naturalist with a love for birds and plants. Her inspiration as a nature conservationist comes from a will to conserve and protect South Africa’s rich natural heritage so that future generations might enjoy them as she has.
Deputy Security Manager
Tinyiko Solomon Ngobeni was born in 1979 at Vembe district in the Village called Ga-phooko, he started primary school at Radikwela school in Vaalwater and completed my high school in Mopani District at Khesethwane high school in Tzaneen.
After finishing school in 2001 he began his Security career at Shambala Game Reserve as the fence patroller and access control officer and it is during this time where he fell in love with wildlife . In 2007 he started working as Junior Security Supervisor at Shambala under Quemic and soon after became the Security Senior Supervisor. In 2013 he became the Security Manager. He has obtained comprehensive security related training in access control, perimeter and Anti-poaching and has also trained as a firearm instructor and has a strong background in surveillance.
Solly joined the Welgevonden team in March 2020 as the Security Deputy Manager responsible for Anti-poaching, access control Police and Community patrols
Media & Communications Coordinator
Michelle spent her formative years travelling and living in various remote forestry locations. Her father was an avid outdoorsman with a passion for birds, trees and nature in general and he imparted this passion to Michelle at a young age.
After completing high school in White River she went on to study Zoology at the University of Pretoria where she completed her Honours looking at the learning capabilities of benthic sharks, a Masters studying how sengis rewarm from daily torpor and she is currently completing her Doctorate examining the usefulness of bird behaviour in assessing species vulnerability to rising temperatures.
Michelle has a penchant for nature photography and translating scientific research into an understandable context for non-scientists and the general public, through the use of photography and written word.
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.
Media & Communication Coordinator
Phillipa (Pip) was born and raised in the UK, only visiting South Africa for the first time in 2012 as a research student during her university studies. During this time, her love of the bushveld was founded and took control over her career path.
After graduating from the University of Gloucestershire in May 2014 with a BSc (Hons) Degree in Animal Biology, Pip emigrated to South Africa where she qualified as Field Guide and Back-Up Trails Guide. She started working at Welgevonden in April 2015 where she helped found the Welgevonden Volunteer and Research Programme and has since qualified as an Advanced Field Guide and married her husband, Sam.
In May 2019, Pip was appointed as Welgevonden’s Reserve Compliance officer with aspirations to further her guiding qualifications and obtain a Masters Degree.
Conservation Manager Intern
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.