With the unemployment of youth in South Africa standing at just over 50%, it is not surprising that the Youth employment sits high on the agenda of our government and the world at large. As we close off the Youth Month theme for 2020, “Youth Power: Growing South Africa together in the period of Covid-19,” Somkhanda Community Game Reserve has collaborated with Bhejane Nature Training in order to address this issue for the youth of Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
This WILDLANDS managed reserve was formally proclaimed through the Land Reform process in 2005 by the local Gumbi community, has become one of the only community owned reserve success stories in South Africa and is set to continue its journey of development and capacity building for this community.
Bhejane Nature Training are committed to developing Nature Guides and Conservation Entrepreneurs with a strong character and proud work ethic.
“We offer Adventure and Environmental Awareness Courses as well as a comprehensive career training and specialist skills for school leavers and guides in the fields of nature guiding and wildlife conservation,” says Dylan Panos.
Through this 3-year partnership with Bhejane as a FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) endorsed training provider, several individuals from the local and nearby communities of the reserve will be trained and qualified to be Nature and Trail Guides. Bhejane will annually train, mentor and register the Somkhanda staff with NQF2 and NQF4 VPDA qualifications. These selected youth will be provided with academic content, facilitation, SETA registration, wilderness first aid training, track and signs trailing qualifications, certification, and assessment fees. Further to this, all their fees and examination costs will be covered through the over R 1 000 000 funding that will be made available through this collaboration.
Meiring Prinsloo, manager of Somkhanda Community Game Reserve comments, “This collaboration with Bhejane Nature Training further indicates our commitment as a community owned reserve as one that is progressive and one that will leave a legacy for generations to come. Through empowering these youth, we will strengthen the reserve as one that can compete on an equal footing with the surrounding reserves as well as equip our future conservation guides with the knowledge to propel them forward in this conservation environment.”
As the government has begun to ease restrictions on movement and activities around the country on advanced alert level 3, training has resumed on site. Furthermore, all the Covid-19 precautions have been observed to ensure the safety of the youth, trainers, and staff on Somkhanda.