Meet the Wildlings

We are proud to introduce our passionate team of Birding, Wildlife and Environmental Champions.

Escape to the wild strives to empower our talented community guides through partnering with them, giving them a platform to grow with hands on mentoring and guidance.

Meet the Wildlings

We are proud to introduce our passionate team of Birding, Wildlife and Environmental Champions.

Escape to the wild strives to empower our talented community guides through partnering with them, giving them a platform to grow with hands on mentoring and guidance.

Our team of born and bred, local community guides

Dr Rob Little 

Rob Little attained a PhD degree on the behavioural ecology, management and utilisation of the Grey-winged Francolin from the University of Cape Town (UCT). Before that, he was a forester and warden of the Cathedral Peak mountain catchment reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. Between 1988 and 1997, Rob coordinated the Gamebird Research Programme at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, UCT. Rob was Conservation Director at WWF South Africa between 1997 and 2008, and played a significant role in the establishment and expansion of the Namaqua, Table Mountain and Tankwa Karoo national parks. In 2009 he was appointed manager of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the Fitztitute, where he manages the research activities that use Birds as Keys to Biodiversity Conservation. Rob has published over 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals, over 100 semi popular articles, nine book chapters and four books, namely Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park (A Wildlife Society of Southern African Handbook, 1992), Birds of the Swartberg and Gamkapoort Nature Reserves (Mondi BLSA Guide 23, 1999), Gamebirds of Southern Africa (Struik 2000, 2nd edition, 2011) and Terrestrial Gamebirds & Snipes of Africa Qacana Media, 2016). Rob also guest-edited a special issue of Ostrich (2015, Vol. 86 (1&2)) in memory of Phil Hockey, and is an ongoing associate editor.

Tsakane Pila – Manager / Marketing

Tsakane Pila is a born South African black entrepreneur, CEO and owner of Protech Training (Pty) Ltd, a company involved in the artisanal development in Construction And Electrical fields. Protech is accredited by the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA).
He is the owner of Meloding Guest house (5 star rating) in Bela Bela.
The name Meloding means ‘singing of birds’. Tsakane is passionate about nature and birding and is in the process of developing a natural wetland at the guest house

Qualifications:

  • Completed B.OPTOM in 1996 at University of Limpopo.
  • Currently completing MBA with Mancosa Univesity.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Waterberg Economic Development Agency (Soc) Ltd – WEDA
  • Investment Planning
  • Managerial Finance
  • Project Management
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Outsourcing Funds
  • Business Development
  • Networking Skills
  • Strategic Planning
  • Capacity Building
  • Identifying new markets
  • Cutting costs
  • Relationship Management
  • General Management
  • Business plan
Maans Booysen – Guide & Manager 

We are proud to announce our latest WILDLING …
The very experienced Maans Booysen has joined our team.

Maans Booysen is a specialist bird guide and naturalist with many years of experience in safari guiding in Southern Africa and operates as Birding Weto Tours.
He was based at Madikwe Game Reserve for many years where he conducted game drives and walks in Big Five country and is registered with Theta and FGASA. He has guided in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia and Ghana. He was also a game farmer for 25 years in the Thabazimbi Bushveld area adjacent to Madikwe Game Reserve.

Maans is a keen photographer and some of his work is starting to creep into publications like 
Africa Birds and Birding, African Bird Club, Field Guides The CHAMBERLAIN BIRDING GAUTENG. By Etienne Marais & Faansie Peacock, 
COMPLETE PHOTOGRAPHIC FIELD GUIDE BIRDS of Southern Africa. By Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan
The RAPTOR GUIDE of SOUTHERN AFRICA by Ulrich Oberprieler, 
The ULTIMATE COMPANION for BIRDING in SOUTHERN AFRICA by Geoff McIlleron and Peter Ginn. TERRESTRIAL GAME BIRDS and SNIPES of AFRICA by Rob Little, 
Photographic Guide, BIRDS of NAMIBIA by Ian Sinclair and Komen. 
The SPECIAL BIRDS of ANGOLA. By Michael Mills. BIRDING in SOUTH AFRICA’S NATIONAL PARKS by Rob Little. 
More than 2300 of his photos selected for inclusion in the Roberts Online website, as well as in the Roberts VII Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa Program. 
His bird list in Southern Africa is 895 species.
His photographic list is 885 species in Southern Africa. 

Qualifications:
  • Nas. Dipl. Agriculture. 1979
  • Higher Diploma: Game Ranging at Allenby College 
  • FGASA Level 1 April 1999 
  • FGASA Level 2 Oct1999 
    First Aid Level 1 July 1999, 2004, 2011 & 2015 
  • Birds and Birding: Certificate of Achievement. Wakkerstroom , 21-28 Nov 2004
  • Specialist Advanced Birding Course Pafuri KNP. With Lawson’s Birding Academy Nov 2006.
  • Field Guide April 1999 – 2006 February
  • Bird data survey Wind Farm assessment Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal 2011 – 2014. 
    a) Wildskies with Jon Smalie, 
    b) EWT, Andrew Pearson, 
    c) Albert Fronneman & Chris Van Rooyen. 
    Bird data survey in Angola for National Geographic & Wild Bird Trust for The Okavango Wilderness project. Led by Dr Steve Boyes: 
    a) May – July 2015, 
    b) February – March 2016, 
    c) October – November 2016 
    d) April- May 2017 
    e) May – June & August 2018.
  • Bird data survey for AS@S on RV Algoa on the Atlantic ocean west coast 19 – 26 May 2016. 
  • Bird data survey for AS@s on RV Algoa on the Indian ocean 12 July – 14 August 2017. 
Grant Egen – Guide Manager / Nature Conservationist

Grant Egen had developed a passion for all forms of nature from his many trips to the Kruger National Park as a young child. His first love was for Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) evolving into all aspects of nature. This led to Grant studying Nature Conservation through the University of South Africa.

Grant has lived and travelled and guided in many regions in the Southern and Central parts of Africa. Grant is an active citizen scientist, guide and conservationist. Guided Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. His vast experience has led him to qualify as a Bird ringer through AFRING (University of Cape Town). He has participated in many Bird research projects and training.

Grant’s knowledge of Birds, Butterflies, Mammals, Reptiles, Scorpions, Frogs, Geology and Nature in the greater Gauteng area makes him one of only a handful of guides who will make your trip memorable. As a member of the Trail Blazing Terns they achieved 299 species on Birding Big Day (24 hours)

Qualifications:
  • Higher Diploma Nature Conservation – UNISA
  • Bird Ringing Qualification – UCT
  • Advanced Birding Courses
  • Reptile Handling Course – Transvaal Snake Park
  • Nature Courses – Snakes, Scorpions, Birds
  • PDP Advanced Drivers & Advanced 4 x 4
  • Qualified Guide Cradle of Human Kind
  • West Rand Honorary Rangers Guide KNP
  • Guide Johannesburg City Parks, Kloofendal, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens.
  • Certificate – NOSA (SHE) – Safety, Health & Environment Workshop
  • Certificate – NQF4 Field Guides Association of South Africa FGASA
Themba Mthembu – Guide

Themba was born and bred in Northern Kwazulu Natal. Also known as Zululand – Elephant Coast / Maputoland. Home of the famous King Shaka! Themba has an in depth local knowledge of the Zulu people their culture the birds, wildlife and history all valuable traits that will leave you with lifelong memories.

The coastal area Isimangaliso Wetlands Park / St Lucia Wetlands Park (Unesco World Heritage site) is a Zululand prime birding and wildlife destination. These areas are famous with a host of bird endemics and variety of habitats.

Themba is developing accommodation in the famous Tembe Elephant Park home to Elephants with the largest tusks in South Africa. He guides in Umfolozi, Hluhluwe National Park South Africa’s oldest Nature Reserve. Famous for saving the White Rhino from extinction.

Qualifications:
  • Certified NQF4 (TGSP2) Level 2 Cathsseta accredited Nature-Guide
  • The Nature College Hoedspruit FGASA.
  • Certified SA Wildlife & Culture Guide – Makiti Guides & Tours.
  • Certified Regional Bird Guide – Birdlife South Africa.
  • Certified Cathsseta accredited Assessor
  • National Certificate – Tourism Guiding
  • Further Education Training Certificate – Tourist Guiding
  • National Certificate – Nature Conservation.
  • Registered Guide Tourism – Kwa-Zulu Natal.
  • Certificate – International Labour Organization.
  • Certificate – Raptor Identification – Tembele Eco Services.
  • Certificate – Assessor Learning Outcomes
  • KZN Durban Footprints
  • Certificate – First Aid Training Level 1 – Dept of Labour.
  • Certificate – Firearms – Rifle, Handgun, Shotgun.
  • Chairperson – Vukukhanye Development Project.
  • Chairperson – Lilizela Tourism
  • Chairperson – Umkhanyakude Tourist Guide Forum.
  • Third prize Tourism Competition Country Life Magazine & Sunday Tribune 2018.
Samson Mulaudzi – Guide

Samson was born and raised in the rural village of Tshivhazwaulu in the Vuwani area in Venda, Limpopo Province, and was scorned by his friends for his bad aim with a catapult.

The village boys used to shoot birds for meat with a catapult during their spare time when out herding goats and cattle- the young Samson often went hungry! However, his skill with birds improved when he picked up a pair of binoculars instead. He has developed his talents by conserving birds ever since.

Samson is based in Louis Trichardt / Makhado and enjoys the variety of habitats in the Soutpansberg – Venda area and Polokwane Game Reserve. Samson has extensive knowledge in the Northern Kruger National Park which includes Punda Maria, Pafuri, Crookes Corner.

He enjoys his interactions with the birders he meets and they appreciate his passionate love of birds and wildlife.  His quiet and intensely focused approach makes him a highly recommended guide in this country. His Soutpansberg hot-spots include Hanglip Forest, Afromontane Mistbelt Forest, Roodewaal Nature Reserve, Levubu Post Office and Muirhead Dams at Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge on the bank of the Albasini Dam. He guides in the Magoebaskloof, Woodbush Forest Drive, Mamabolo Grasslands, and Tropical Lowveld of Tzaneen.

Qualifications:
  • Certificate – BLSA – Avi Career – THETA TGD/NatSGd/2/0029 – Nature Site Guide
  • Certificate – Cathsseta – NQF Level 4 Skills Customer Service
  • Certificate-Soutpansberg-Limpopo Birding Route-Beginners Birding Course.
  • Certificate – BLSA – Local Bird Guide Course
  • Certificate – EMCARE Emergency – Basic First Aid & CPR
  • Certificate – Developement of Economic Environment and Tourism – Tourist Guide
  • Birdlife South Africa – Owl Award 2012
  • Certificate – TEMBELE ECO Services – Raptor Identification (KNP).
Bradwin Adendorff – Guide / Media

Bradwin was born and raised in Roodepoort on the West Rand of Gauteng.  His interest for nature started at a very young age of eleven. This enthusiasm developed with him spending most of his free time in nature.  This passion for birding and wildlife since the age of sixteen, ultimately drew him into guiding, photography and the environmental restoration at Hamerkop Bird Sanctuary close to where he lives.

Bradwin  has guided with the West Rand Honorary Rangers (SAN PARKS) in the Kruger National Park. He has extensively knowledge in wildlife reserves including Pilanesburg Nature Reserve, Kloofendal Nature Reserve  and the Cradle of Mankind (World Heritage Site).

As an active and passionate birder of the team Trail Blazing Terns they achieved 299 species in 24 hours South African Birding Big Day.   He also won the competition at the recent Africa Bird Fair held at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens where he spotted 115, bird species over the weekend.

Bradwin and Grant are part of the team that take part in the annual Birding for Charity Competition. They have achieved the No 1 spot over the last four years by raising the largest amount for this event.  He has been an active member of the Youth Africa Bird Club since its inception where he helps mentor keen young birders.

Bradwin is involved in many Citizen Science projects including the South African Bird Atlas Project (SAPAB) and Lepimap where they collect valuable data for the Animal Demography Unit (UCT).

Bradwin’s pleasant disposition and enthusiastic approach has made him a firm favourite with his guests.

Qualifications:
  • National Senior Certificate
  • Certificate – First Aid Level 1 unit standard: 119567 
  • Certificate – Basic Fire Fighting 
  • FGASA – NQF2 Nature Guide (currently studying)
  • SAFRING – Bird ringing (currently studying)
  • Qualified Photographer (Wildlife & Birding) Conducts Photographic workshops and courses.
  • Experienced Guide Cradle Of Human Kind
  • West Rand Honorary Rangers Birding specialist 
  • Guide Johannesburg City Parks, Kloofendal Nature Reserve, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
  • Wits Bird Club Birding Expert and Outing Leader
  • Inkwazi Bird Club, Birding Expert and Outing Leader
  • President Ridge Bird Club, Birding expert and Tour Leader
Michelle de Fleuriot –  Conservation Environmental Lecturer ( Scholar Programme)

Michelle was born in Johannesburg and completed her education in Durban where she  obtained her Bachelor of Primary Education Degree at the University of KZN Durban.

Her love for the ocean, mountains, nature and the bush developed from an early age.  She continued this passion by regularly visiting Umfolozi & Hluhluwe Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park. As an avid hiker she spent countless hours in the Drakensberg Mountains (World Heritage Site).

Michelle is currently studying a FGASA  Field Guide course and plans to complete an Honours degree in Gender Studies at the University KZN Durban. After a successful teaching career she has ventured out into the field of  lecturing and training the youth and adults on gender behaviour for NAPTOSA . Michelle is very excited to join the Escape to the Wild team as Environmental and Behavioural Lecturer.

Qualifications:
  • Degree – Bachelor of Primary Education University KZN Durban
  • Certificate – Permaculture Course 1 & 2
  • Certificate – Ilembe Chamber Tourism & Commerce – Trainer
  • Certificate – NAPTOSA Teachers Association – Lecturer / Trainer

Meryl-Lynne Harwood

Host / Hospitality Manager

A founding member of Escape to the Wild with the responsibility of all travel, tour and hosting arrangements. Meryl-Lynne’s love of travel has allowed her to visit India countless times. She has led and arranged Yoga and Cultural Tours to India with groups of 15 – 40 people since 1980. This has entailed successfully managing airfares, hotels, and all transport arrangements, including train and all aspects of hospitality.

Meryl-Lynne has arranged and hosted tours to Nepal, (Kathmandu, Annapurna Mountain, Royal Chitwan National Park), Assam (Kasiranga National Park), India- Ranthambore National Park, Bharatpur National Park, Mumbai, Kolkata, the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) and a number of tours in the Himalayan foothills and mountains. She has also arranged various tours to Europe including several sea cruise tours.

Joe Harwood

CEO / Founder

Chairman of Escape to the Wild. As a young man in 1965 he was drafted into the S.A. Army where he spent six months in the Namib Desert, Namibia. In 1976 he was again conscripted to the Angolan Conflict, where he spent 3 months in the bush and the tropical forrests. This began a life-long love affair with the wild.

Having been a corporate executive in sales and marketing, it was a natural progression to start his own business which became an industry leader, spanning over 40 years and still going strong.

His passion for birding and wildlife brought him in contact with many of the local community bird guides in South Africa; this then created a desire to assist and enable them to form a sustainable guiding and touring business. Joe’s natural love for people encouraged him to mentor them by sharing his marketing skills and business experience.

Please contact us to book one of our guided tours.

We look forward to hosting your escape to the wild! 

Book now!
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