Lesley, originally from Canada, has a Masters in Development Anthropology from McGill University in Montreal. Lesley’s introduction to Africa was in the late 1980s working for World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar and exploring east and southern Africa in a kayak. Captivated, she returned in 1992 and met JW “Tico” McNutt in Botswana. They married in 1996. She and Tico have two boys who were raised in their remote research camp in the Okavango Delta, and Dog Camp remains the familial centre of their ever growing organization, which is now known as Wild Entrust (WE). Formerly the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, WE is dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and wildlife spaces through research, education and applied conservation initiatives. Lesley’s research has focused on human-wildlife conflict and the relationships between people and protected areas. In 2004, she spearheaded the creation of Coaching Conservation® (CC) and continues to grow the initiative with a dedicated and amazing team.
PHD, CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION ADVISOR
Hugh Webster, from the UK, completed his doctorate at the University of Sussex, studying African Wild Dogs with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. He then began teaching Biology at a UK secondary school for 6 years, before returning to re-join BPCT to act as research coordinator at the project’s field site in Botswana. In 2017, he assumed his current role, developing educational materials for Coaching Conservation. Hugh now oversees all of the research and development of our curricula, training content and new projects. Hugh is passionate about productive conservation activism and is the author of the acclaimed children’s book, The Blue Hare.
BA, PROGRAM FACILITATOR, BOTSWANA
Tjipo Keaikitse studied for a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities at the University of Botswana, majoring in Sociology and Environmental Science. Since graduating, she has pursued a career in children’s education, working mostly with primary school children and various programs, including Artsy Fartsy (an after-school program which teaches children arts and crafts using reusable and natural materials). She then started a successful program of children’s camps under the name of her own organization, called CampFire, helping children develop life skills in the outdoors. She joined Coaching Conservation in late 2019, where she is now the program facilitator for Botswana. She is passionate about children and conservation.
South Africa: Good work Foundation
Sibusiso first visted the Coaching Conservation program in the Eastern Cape in 2016. Impressed, he returned in 2017 with a full team of GWF facilitators to train as CC coaches. Since 2017, as the Conservation Acadamy Coordinator for GWF, Sibusiso has led his growing team of GWF facilitators to become CC coaches who have now delivered the Rhino RAP to over 5000 students in the Mpumulanga region!
Goodwork Foundation Coaching Team
Tumelo Ndlovu, Refilwe Malumane ,Tarshia Matabela, Tsakani Ndlovu, Oscar Madonsela. (Front Row) Respect Merahe, Floyd Mphakane, Sibusiso Mnisi.
South Africa: Southern African Wildlife College
I am Sboniso and I hail from KwaZulu-Natal. I work for the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) as a Projects leader in the Community Department’s Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment Unit (RISE). I am also the project leader of the CC and SAWC partnership kids’ program.
Although my background is in anti-poaching and environmental education, my passion for the natural environment, community development and conservation is rooted in a curiosity about humans, specifically group behaviour, as well as the environmental, developmental, and psychological aspects of people. I am studying Applied Psychology for professional contexts (in process) and am currently working on an advanced certificate in Project Management.
I’ve always been interested in finding novel and creative ways in which rural communities, particularly those near conservation areas, can develop and deepen their interest in conservation/environmentalism while benefiting meaningfully from and contributing towards the protection and sustainability of these biologically diverse spaces. Coaching conservation is one such programme.
I was born and live in Welverdiend in Mpumalanga. I attended primary school at Mahlekisana primary school, and proceeded to High School at Mahlale in 2000, where I completed my matric 2005. I then furthered my studies with Tshwane University Of Technology in 2007 where I enrolled for a National Diploma in Public Management, which I completed in 2009.
After completing my studies I had the desire and passion for working with young people in our community and helped found the Welverdiend Youth Centre, which is fully functional and funded by the Department of Social Development. I got an opportunity to study at the SAWC in 2010, where I studied environmental education and field ranger training. I’m currently working at SAWC as a community liaison officer in the RISE Department, where I’m the Principal Educator of the inspirational Coaching Conservation programme. Through this programme, I have the opportunity of working and giving pack to the same community and schools that brought me up.
SAWC Coaching Team
Lydia Sifunda, Precious Ndlovu, Ponagatso Mogakane, Peace Mogope, Verrah Vutomi Ndlozi, Goodwill Seepane, Freddie Nukeri, Thabisile Sibuyi, Zanele Mathonsi
South Africa: Amakhala, Eastern Cape Team
PHD, PROGRAM FACILITATOR
Dr. Jennifer Gush grew up in Zimbabwe where she developed a love for animals and the outdoors. She has a PhD in Zoology but initially went to university with the idea of becoming a high school biology teacher. Through a journey involving the tourism industry, monitoring wildlife and community projects, she has ended up achieving her dream of teaching children about the environment. Through the CC program, Jennifer meets hundreds of school children each year and aims to inspire them to all become Kids Who Care. Jennifer enjoys nothing more than being part of a child’s first wildlife experience. The thrill of seeing a child encounter a wild animal in its natural environment for the first time just never grows dull.
I am Simbongile, a brother in Christ and a father of a beautiful daughter. Born in Grahamstown and raised by the love I received from my community, I went to a primary school called NV Cewu which taught me a lot about sport, and then to a high school called Ntsika Sec School, where I was taught discipline and how to act right. Soccer has always been the sport that everybody grew up watching and playing because of the influence soccer players have. I was always fascinated about their skills of performance and how they dribble and change positions so quick. I was a defender in a team called Banana Wisa. I joined Coaching Conservation in 2018.
My name is Zolani Witbooi, I am 23 years old and l live in Paterson, Eastern Cape. I started school at Moreson Primary School in 2004 (Gr 1 to 3). In 2007 I went to Khayakhulu Primary School (Gr 4 to 7). In 2011, I started high school at Sandisalwazi High school, at which I completed my matric in 2015.
When South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, that is when my passion for sport started. I went on to become a soccer player myself as I now play for a local team called Real Chiefs FC. I play as a midfielder. In 2016, I was lucky enough to become part of Coaching Conservation.
From a young age, I was exposed to a variety of creatures (big and small) and was very lucky to go on many interesting bush adventures, as my dad was the manager of Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve.
Following my passion, I studied Nature Conservation at NMMU Saasveld, then completed my practical year at Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape before progressing to Junior Ecologist & Environmental Education Coordinator.
Involved with outdoor education since 2014, I would like to run my own unique program one day. I would also like to add an Education and Psychology qualification to my belt.
I love being part of CC as it allows me to combine my passions – wildlife/”the bush” and working with kids. Also, I feel that I’m helping to address (in my opinion) a growing problem in modern society: the gap between people and nature.
My favourite quote is “In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum
ABONGILE JOSEPH "A.J" TEMBANI
My name is Abongile Joseph “A.J” Tembani from Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. I went to school at Ntsika Secondary school. I became interested in soccer at a young age. I played for my school where I played no.5 full back and R/L wing. I was lucky to join CC in 2018. It has taught me to respect myself, others, animals, and also to respect my environment as well. Working with kids is a fun experience! Kids are open to learning and that’s what I like about working with kids.