National Women’s Day in South Africa is celebrated annually on the 9th of August. Women’s Day not only celebrates the strength and resilience of women but also their impact and contribution to the country and our society as a whole. In South Africa, Women’s Day forms part of Women’s Month where we pay tribute to incredible women who have paved the way and laid the foundation to empower women and strive for gender equality.
This year’s theme is powerful. It’s “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”.
Kapama Private Game Reserve is proud for our role we play in empowering women in the very male dominated industry of Field Guiding.
During this Women’s month we honour and pay tribute to our proud female field guides pioneering the path forward for other women to follow in their footsteps. All across Africa female guides are breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes by moving into a male dominated industry.
In our field guiding team we would like to introduce you to Liezel Holmes our Safari Manager who has been in the industry for over 17 years.
Included in our team is Queen Manyike, a young guide from the local community – Acornhoek, which surrounds Kapama Game Reserve. Let’s find out a bit more about Queen,
“My name is Queen Manyike and I’m 26 years young, I’m from Acornhoek Mpumalanga in the rural areas of Tintswalo village, I’m a proud female field guide, currently working at Kapama Private Game Reserve at River Lodge. Nature is my passion. Growing up visiting my father in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve Headquarters and attending Eco Children’s holiday workshops enhanced this passion and appreciation a lot. I want to see myself grow in this industry and become a professional photographer and field guide and inspire other young women out there to follow their passion as anything is possible.”
Liezel together with Queen were both featured in Hi-Tec SA’s “Against the odds” campaign. Women who are passionate about the outdoors. It’s a campaign inspired by South Africans who are constantly pushing the limits of their capabilities. Incredible people who are proving over and over what the human spirit is able to overcome when one’s head is in the right place. Watch the full clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WksYtaw_7KM&t=68s
Queen was also part of the: Inside Africa Documentary which featured on CNN. The title was: A wild Life – Behind the scenes with South African photographers. This focused on a wave of young photographers emerging In South Africa, where an abundance of wildlife provides picture-perfect opportunities. You can watch the documentary here, with Queen being featured from the 8th minute https://edition.cnn.com/videos/tv/2021/08/10/inside-africa-wildlife-photography-travel-conservation-spc.cnn
Other strong and passionate field guides in our team include Tasha van den Aardweg – a proud Kapama River Lodge field guide and Lindi Taljaard– a proud Southern Camp field guide.
The newest addition to the Kapama family and field guiding team is Sindi Mhlodi, from Kanyamazane, close to Nelspruit, a proud Kapama River Lodge field guide. Here is her story:
“Growing up I always loved animals. After school I worked in a restaurant and when a colleague moved to the Kruger National Park, he offered me a waitressing position in one of the lodges. It was here that my love for guiding bloomed. I started to see wildlife all around me and I also saw the lifestyle of the rangers. Whenever I was off duty I asked to join on game drives. I began learning more about the birds in the area and became a master at spotting things. I loved the interaction with guests and how the rangers shared their wealth of knowledge. This inspired me to become a guide.
“Being a woman has come with its challenges and I had a few people try and dissuade me from perusing my passion. At one Lodge, a manager did not want to hire me as he said a woman ranger would not have the physical strength. But I don’t believe that is true. Woman are strong and can overcome a lot. We bring a different kind of strength to the profession. I feel being a woman in this industry also offers a softer side to things. We are nurtures by nature. As nurtures we want to see something grow and that means being passionate about conserving nature and our surroundings.”
“It does come with its downfalls though. As a woman you have to put in double the amount of work and prove yourself continuously. But I think your passion is what makes you stand out. But in spite of this, I will never change or go back to doing anything else besides guiding.
“It has been an amazing journey so far, even though I started my career a bit late, I am looking forward to growing in this industry and one day becoming an example for others to follow and be an inspiration to others especially young children who come from the type of background I come from. “
We are so proud of our lady field guides and safari manager and look forward to following their careers as they achieve their goals and aspirations and forge the path for others to follow.