Join Port Elizabeth and MyPE in congratulating Mover and Shaker, Ntobeko Ngcala from Umzi Wethu:
Umzi Wethu Conservation graduate, Ntobeko Ngcala recently led six youth on their first Wilderness Foundation Imbewu trail.
Imbewu (meaning ‘seed’ in isiXhosa), is one of the main projects that fall under the Wilderness Foundation’s Leadership and Education Programme.
Imbewu trails were developed to help introduce disadvantaged senior learners to their natural and cultural heritage. The trails aim to inspire the learners to become environmental leaders in their communities. The four day trails take place throughout the country in South African national parks.
The trails provide the youth with an opportunity to rediscover the relationship between their culture and nature through the teachings of trail leaders and wise elders in a wilderness setting.
Imbewu trails target approximately 200 disadvantaged senior learners annually and have reached approximately 10 000 children since they were first launched in the Kruger National Park in 1996.
Ntobeko Ngcala was part of the sixth Umzi Wethu class, and graduated from the Conservation Academy in 2010.
When Ntobs first joined the Umzi Wethu Conservation Academy, his family thought he was “crazy”. “They said it is mad to run after lions, and that the wilderness is a place where the ancestors are, and they should be left in peace. They were not keen for me to be out in the bush!” says Ntobs.
However, his family has accepted his choice and are grateful for his financial support as he is the sole breadwinner for three members of his family including his mother, grandmother and brother.
Ntobs has been working for Shamwari Game Reserve as a ranger since 2010, and has also been volunteering his free weekends to take young learners on Pride trails in local Eastern Cape nature reserves. “I have always loved being in the bush. In nature you just feel different. It is a place of peace, and I am so happy to be in a career where I can share my passion,” says Ntobs.
The Imbewu trail led by Ntobs in March took place in the Kabouga area of the Eastern Cape, near Addo Elephant National Park. “One thing that grabs my attention about Kabouga is its natural beauty. It is a very well maintained nature reserve filled with very interesting fauna and flora.”
The six learners were initially very nervous about the Imbewu trail as most had never ventured into any wilderness areas before. Sleeping under the stars with just a sleeping bag and a fly sheet for cover was a daunting thought, not to mention all of the creepy crawlies and wildlife they may encounter.
“Throughout the four days on the trail, the wise elder and I taught the learners about various things involving conservation from trees to astronomy. They learned about animal tracking, birds, conservation ethics, as well as valuable lifeskills. The wilderness brings out their individuality as they face their fears and work together to overcome obstacles,” says Ntobs.
“They had loads of questions about everything, and at the end they even wanted to know more about how to pursue careers in nature conservation. This is a true achievement. For young people with very little knowledge and passion for the wilderness to have such a genuine experience of the environment, and be so inspired that they want to pursue it further! We’re creating young conservationists in our society, and influencing the community at large.”
According to Ntobs, the students promised to start a cleaning project at their school and involve the other students in this endeavour.
Ntobs continues to pursue his career in conservation, and hopes to inspire more learners on Imbewu trails in the future. “Conservation has been part of my life from early on. It has always been something I wanted to be involved with. There is nothing that compares to this industry and lifestyle for me.”
“I would like to live in a ‘green’ minded country where everyone takes good care of the environment. It is therefore so important to engage our young South Africans from an early age in order to develop this attitude.”
Submitted by: Claire Warneke on behalf of Umzi Wethu.
Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2013/04/ntobeko-ngcala/