Alex van den Heever
Janetta Bock Benadie
Operations and Internal Moderator
Karel ‘Pokkie’ Benadie
Trainer at Samara Private Game Reserve
Trainer: Londolozi Game Reserve Campus
Innocent Ngwenya was born on 17 May 1991 in the Village of Utha situated north of the Sabie Sands game reserve. He grew up with his grandmother and three siblings. The family sustained themselves on his grandmother’s monthly pension payment, and tendered vegetables on a small piece of land owned by the family. Motivated by hunger Innocent and his siblings began trapping birds and small mammals for food. Despite his circumstances Innocent completed matric in 2009.
Innocent’s father introduced him to a project that he was running called the Ntlaweni Wildlife project – a non-profit endeavour that teaches children methods to care for nature. As a guide, his father also introduced him to the knowledge and techniques of nature guiding.
In June 2010, Innocent enrolled at Tracker Academy where he graduated as the top student of the year. Upon graduating he found employment at Ngala Game Reserve as a Tracker. In 2013 Innocent was invited to undergo the intensive 8-week Lead Tracker programme at Tracker Academy, finally passing in 2015 as the youngest Lead Tracker in South Africa. A year later Innocent was selected to start a leopard habituation project in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.
In addition to his tracking accolades, Innocent holds a Field Guide level 1, Trails Guide and CATHSSETA assessor qualification. He is currently the Trainer at the Londolozi campus for Tracker Academy.
Trainer: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Campus
Ivan was born in a small town of Noupoort in the Northern Cape on 10 May 1992. He attended Colesberg High School where he passed my Matric in 2012.
Ivan began working at a local lodge in the Colesberg district. Sensing an emerging need to be outdoors Ivan enrolled on a farming apprenticeship with Anja Pienaar. He learnt to work with his hands, a skill he enjoyed learning. Mrs Pienaar quickly noticed Ivan’s love of nature and arranged for him to study at Tracker Academy in 2014. In his words, starting his studies at Tracker Academy represented what he believed would be ‘a lifelong commitment to nature’.
A year later Ivan graduated at the top of his group at Tracker Academy. He became the first-ever tracker student to score 100% for a final ‘tracks & signs’ and ‘trailing’ practical assessments. His overall aggregate remains an unbroken record at Tracker Academy. At 23 years of age he was the youngest man in his course. Ivan graduated with Tracker Level 4 (Advanced Tracker).
Upon graduating Ivan found employment as a tracker at Kwandwe Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape where he worked for 5 years. During this period he won the KAROHA award for Tracking Excellence in the Eastern Cape in 2018.
In 2020, Ivan’s journey came full circle when he was employed as a tracker trainer for Tracker Academy based at its Tswalu Kalahari Reserve campus. Ivan says, ‘I am on a quest to fulfil as many hopes and dreams as I possibly can. I owe it to myself and to Tracker Academy. The journey coming back to Tracker Academy is so much sweeter because they helped me on my way.’
Theory facilitator and camp administrator: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve campus
Frances was born in Cape Town on 5th December 1995.
After her first year of school her family moved to New Zealand and lived there for five years.
Frances spent her childhood growing up on farms raising every conceivable animal she could get her hands on. From chickens, geese, ducks, guineafowl and doves to pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, cats, dogs even the hedgehogs in the garden. She also has a love for the wilderness and is drawn to exploring it.
In 2015, she studied equine behaviour based in California for 2 years. Once qualified Frances travelled the world training horses.
After 6 years of working overseas in the equine industry, Frances had a calling to come back home and live a life immersed in nature. She was in search of broader horizons and wanted to offer something more meaningful to others.
In 2019 Frances, enrolled with EcoTraining on the Professional Field Guide Course. She completed her FGASA level 1, apprentice Trails Guide, tracking, birding, wilderness first aid level 2 and advanced rifle handling certifications.
In 2020, Frances started as the theory facilitator and camp administrator for Tracker Academy based at the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve campus. She believes her position at the Tracker Academy found her. And what broader horizons to find than that of the Kalahari wilderness!