Fostering the next generation of conservationists – Meet our students
Each year, the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR) welcomes two students from South African universities to give them an unparalleled, informative and exciting learning experience which equips them with all the skills they may need to progress in the wildlife management sector and provides practical, hands-on experience which books alone cannot provide.
The two students are given the opportunity to complete their University tasks and assignments and have the option of undertaking a research project for the year, on which they could build to increase their understanding of the natural environment.
This year we welcomed Veer Bills and John William Honiball to the Timbavati family. It has been truly remarkable witnessing their journey of acquiring practical and hands-on skills as well as their own personal growth & development.
We asked them to share their experience with us.
Explain what being a student means to you?
Being a student means that you get to experience the true meaning of being in the Nature Conservation field. You get to experience most of the aspects that go with the management of a high end Reserve. You get to experience and understand the relationships between the commercial guides and lodges and the reserves management practices.
What do you do as a student in the Timbavati?
Timbavati has many duties and activities for a Nature Conservation student such as working in the workshop fixing vehicles or machinery, doing veld condition assessment, animal census and demographics, burning block burns, alien plant removal, monitoring the monthly rainfall, and many more.
As all in the conservation field would know there is always work to be done and someone needs to do it. There will be tasks that you’ll enjoy and others that you probably won't want to do again but the biggest thing is that you are always learning. There are many things that I’ve learned in the classroom and now have been able to put into practice.
What are your favourite duties as a student?
My favourite duties that I’ve experienced thus far have been Rhino notching's, the spotted Hyena census and the River monitoring. I have really enjoyed my time in the Timbavati and am so thankful for this incredible opportunity.
How have you found this opportunity?
Having had the opportunity to do my work integrated learning year in the Timbavati as a Nature Conservation student has been a great opportunity. The experience one gains by working with such an experienced team truly gives one an understanding of what a career in conservation is.
What does being a student at the TPNR mean to you?
Being a student means that you get to work in all the departments from the ecological department to getting to work with the Timbavati Foundation or the maintenance department. You get to experience all the aspects of what it means to manage a reserve.
What have you learned from your experience?
To describe what I have learned this year in one paragraph is impossible. Probably the two most important things I learnt from this year are; to always remain positive and find something to laugh about no matter how long or physical the day is and secondly you can learn something from everyone if you are willing to learn.
What will you miss the most?
What I will miss most about this year is not only spending time in the veld but having had the opportunity to work with the team. I would like to thank the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve for this unforgettable experience. I hope to be back someday soon.
Did you know?
Our Warden, Edwin Pierce, serves as a remarkable example of how the knowledge and passion acquired during his student year in 2005 seamlessly translated into a thriving and successful career in the industry.
Edwin now holds a bachelor's degree in nature conservation and a master's degree in environmental management.
In his own words: “I have always wanted to work in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (TPNR), ever since I experienced this incredible reserve, working as a conservation student in 2005. I have always kept in touch with the Management, Field Rangers and General Staff, and after every visit to the TPNR, I felt like I left a little bit of myself behind. Finally, now I can honestly say that I feel that I am home.”
Being a student in a reserve management setting can be quite demanding at times, with lengthy days and various challenges to overcome. However, it undeniably offers an extraordinary experience, and the invaluable knowledge you gain is irreplaceable.
We express our gratitude to our students for their dedication and eagerness to acquire knowledge. We take immense pride in our ability to provide opportunities to individuals interested in our industry. These aspiring conservationists are the future guardians who will safeguard and preserve our reserves.