Exchanging Skills at Bushmans Kloof

Published: 11 December 2019

Earlier this year we trained four volunteer Verification Officers who joined us in July as part of a broader skills development initiative or ‘Conservation Activators’ programme. Frank, Ben, Rosco and Gerald are all farmers in their home communities of Heuningvlei, Kleinvlei and Onder Martiensrus, tiny hamlets in the Cederberg where employment opportunities are few and far between.

However, regular tourists travel through the area on the well-known Cederberg Heritage Route, a leisurely journey by donkey cart staying in the homes of locals to learn about the culture and heritage of the area and enjoying its unique hospitality.

The VO’s often play host to the visitors, and therefore play an important role in tourism as an additional source of income. It was this that motivated the Cape Leopard Trust to arrange an opportunity for some ‘on the job’ training for the Verification Officers with its partner, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve near Clanwilliam.

On Monday, 11 November, three excited ‘VO’s’ arrived at Bushmans Kloof for 4 days of instruction. The time was spent learning about field guiding, identifying tracks and signs of various animals, plants, San bushmen paintings, and animal behaviour. They also shared their own knowledge with the Bushmans Kloof guides on traditional plant uses as well as teachings around the local names for plants and animals.

Ben Farmer from Onder-Martiensrus said that he learned a lot more about animals and tracks. His favourite activity was going on the walking trail, and a highlight for him was searching for and finding a leopard track. Frans Scheepers from Kleinvlei mentioned that he enjoyed learning about birds and their calls. Rosco Ockhuis from Heuningvlei commented that he learnt too much to even recall everything! Seeing wild animals in the reserve for the first time, learning about birds and viewing the red ochre rock paintings were some of his best memories.

The VO’s were very appreciative of their experience at Bushmans Kloof, and all agreed it had taught them a lot.

We would like to thank Bushmans Kloof for their partnership and contribution to the Cederberg Project facilitated through the Treadright Foundation. We especially wish to thank the field guides who took the Verification Officers under their wing and taught them, not only about the veld but also how they can use their enthusiasm and knowledge about nature to inspire others!

Gallery Caption
Fig.1 Ready for a game drive! Zenobia van Dyk, field guide at Bushmans Kloof and the three Verification Officers (from left to right), Ben Farmer, Frank Scheepers and Roscoe Ockhuis before leaving on a game drive.
Fig.2 Practical field guide training. Roscoe Ockhuis explaining about some animal behaviour that he had observed.