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.
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.
Media & Communication 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.
I was born in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga in 1995 and matriculated in 2014 from Impak Home-school. I was introduced to the African bush at an early age and visited Kruger National Park regularly. I grew up on small holdings and I was always surrounded by nature, instilling in me a love for nature. I’m currently enrolled at the Tshwane University of Technology doing my Work Integrated Learning Year to complete my National Diploma in Nature Conservation. I have a keen interest in entomology and soil sciences and my goal is to continue studying and learning until I have my PhD.
I am Thuto-Boago Ngongwane, an enthusiastic nature conservation student. I was born in Kimberley in the Northern Cape province and raised in Taung Village (home) in the North West province. I grew up under the guidance and care of my Grandparents, who taught me a lot and moulded me to be the person I am today.
The love I have developed for nature started at home as I had a lot of responsibilities driven by farm life, cattle and domestic animals. This love further grew as I was exposed to the natural environment in Mokala National Park, visiting my Mother. From that day on everything was history and the passion to protect, conserve and embrace the natural environment grew ever so big.
I chose nature conservation as a course because I saw the need to protect nature, in its full capacity, in this ever-changing world we live in today. Nature plays a major role in the existence of humans and thus it needs to be conserved and adaptively managed. I believe being a nature conservationist is a privilege. I get to play a vital role in saving the lives of millions of species and their homes.
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.
Assistant Volunteer Research Coordinator
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.
Bonnita van Eeden was born in Rustenburg in 1992. She went on to matriculate from High School Vrede and later worked for a small accounting firm as a bookkeeping clerk. From there, she moved to Pretoria where she took up the role of company secretary clerk.
Bonnita and her husband moved to Welgevonden Game Reserve in 2017, with Bonnita taking up the role as Workshop Admin Assistant in 2019.
Chief of Information & Technology
Jarrod was born in 1966 in Wrexham, North Wales. He spent most of his early life in a small village of Chirk, which is on the Wales/England border, where he attended St. Josephs High School until 1983. He has worked in the IT industry since 1990 and attained a First in Business Information Systems Management from the University of Wales in 1998. Jarrod started his career at Mosanto, later moving onto larger organisations such as British Airways and Her Majesties Revenue and Customs. In 2009, he moved to the Netherlands where he worked for ABN Amro Bank and EMP, later joining EnChoice in 2013. In 2018, Jarrod was seconded to Welgevonden to oversee their IT operations and manage the “Proof of Production” phase of the Wildlife Protection Programme. His day to day activities will focus on protecting the rhino population, consulting with partners such as IBM and Wageningen University and working with bleeding edge technology such as the “Internet of Things”, drones and more.
Deputy Security Manager
Christiaan grew up in Modimolle where he matriculated from Hoerskool Nylstroom in 2004. He spent the majority of his working years in Pretoria where he worked for various security companies, completing a number of courses in security and protection. Later, Christiaan moved back to the bushveld where he started working for TNH Wildlife and Management Solutions as a manager. His responsibilities included high quality fencing installation, electrical fencing, boma construction and security camera installation.
He joined the Welgevonden team in 2018 (lured in by his passion for nature conservation and fascination with the weather) where he has since been employed as Deputy Security Manager, overseeing daily operations of the fencing and access control departments.
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.
Volunteer Research 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.
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.
Receptionist and Admin 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chief Operations 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.
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.
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.
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.
Finance and Administration Manager
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.