The WILD Foundation is the North American face of Tracks of Giants – which is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by The WILD Foundation, Wilderness Foundation South Africa, including the Wilderness Leadership School South Africa and other non-governmental organizations, wildlife management authorities, parks and reserves management and other government, community and corporate partners.
Ian McCallum is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, writer and a specialist wilderness guide. A co-founder of the Wilderness Leadership School in the Cape of Good Hope in 1983, he has subsequently written two anthologies of wilderness poems, Wild Gifts (1999) and Untamed (2012), a novel – Thorns to Kilimanjaro (2000) and more recently, the award winning Ecological Intelligence – Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature (2005). An adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, he is the writer/poet for the Dylan Lewis Untamed Exhibition currently on display at the National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. He is presently a director of the Wilderness Foundation where he heads up the Academic and Leadership projects portfolio. He is a former rugby Springbok fullback. Learn more about Ian’s work
Poetry by Ian McCallum:
In the Tracks of Giants
Ian Michler is a top specialist wilderness guide, photojournalist and naturalist, and has lived and worked across Africa for the last 22 years. His feature articles, diaries and blogs documenting the major conservation challenges facing Africa are well known to readers of the award winning magazines, Africa Geographic and Africa Birds and Birding. He is also the author of seven natural history and travel books on various African countries, does ecotourism consultancy work for both the private and government sectors, and has worked as a researcher and field coordinator on various natural history television documentaries for international broadcasters. Prior to his life in the wilderness, he spent almost eight years practicing as a stockbroker in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Ian is presently based along the Garden Route in South Africa where he is co-owner and manager of Invent Africa, a specialist safari company that runs trips to 15 countries across Africa.
Photography by Ian Michler:
Africa Geographic articles by Ian Michler:
If it Stays it Pays
People, Poverty & the Environment
The Conservation Quandary
Too Clever by Half
Who’s Causing the Damage?
Don’t Fence Me In
Lihle Mbokazi is the Experiential Education Manager at the Wilderness Foundation, South Africa.
Nature found Lihle Mbokazi as a young child walking along rural KwaZulu Natal roads on the way to school. It was on these journeys that she learned to appreciate the sounds, sights and smells of the wilderness, and where her soul found peace away from the difficulties of everyday life.
Daughter of a single mother who earned a living as a domestic worker, and one of seven siblings, Lihle’s early years were poverty stricken. “But it is my past that has driven my future,” says Lihle. “My mother was uneducated, but she instilled in us a motivation to succeed. She worked extremely hard so that we could eat and go to school. She was, and still is, my inspiration. She taught me to be positive, and to look towards the future no matter what the current circumstances are.”
Through her involvement in various NGOs as a volunteer during her early twenties, Lihle became a well known name in activism circles, and her potential was identified by members of the Wilderness Leadership School.
In 2004, Lihle jumped at the opportunity to attend the WLS where her studies were paid for by a group of close friends and sponsors. In 2005, Lihle was the first black female guide to graduate from the WLS, and to her knowledge, the first in the country to earn her NQF level 2.
Lihle’s environmental experience includes involvement with Earthilfe Africa, eThekwini EcoPeace, Community Networking Forum, Vuka Community Environmental Development, Wilderness Leadership School and Wessa.
She is currently employed as the Experiential Education Manager at the Wilderness Foundation where she leads regular Pride and Imbewu trails.
Lihle will be joining the Tracks of Giants team on the Botswana leg of the expedition. She is looking forward to being part of the journey.
“Being a part of this life-changing expedition is an incredible opportunity. I am looking forward to meeting and spending time with some wilderness legends. There is so much that I can learn from the team that is going, and I am hoping to be able to interact with the communities in Botswana too. I want to share what we do, and also learn from them.”
Mandlenkosi Mbekezeli Buthelezi, known as Mandla to his friends and co-workers, is a 40 year old Zulu family man of the royal Zulu bloodline. His home adjoins the world famous iMfolozi Game reserve in the heart of Zululand. Mandla is the head Wilderness Guide at the Wilderness Leadership School where he has practiced his bushcraft and passion for wilderness for the past 13 years.
With a diploma in Wildlife Management from the University of Pretoria, Mandla is currently broadening his qualifications through UNISA by following a further diploma course in Nature Conservation Management.
An extremely experienced and highly qualified Wilderness Guide and Tracker, Mandla has a passion for the big cats of Africa and has an uncanny ability to find them through the use of traditional skills and a highly developed intuition. He represents the Wilderness Leadership School in ultra-marathons and is a regular face on television wildlife and environmental programmes aimed at African youth.
In true Zulu tradition, Mandla is a consummate story-teller and is looking forward to the times spent around the campfires in the deep bush of Africa during the Tracks of Giants expedition.
“I am really excited to be trailing in new wilderness areas and sharing this experience with others.” (Mandla B)
Field Support Team:
Married to Ian McCallum, Sharon is the Operations Manager for the expedition & based out of Cape Town. She handles key logistics and is essential to everything. Sharon is awesome! See what the “logistics lady” has to say about the expedition in her Personal Reflection blog.
Frank is the Director of the Peace Parks Foundation, a retired businessman and volunteers on the Tracks expedition. He has supplied and also drives the “Green Machine” as one of the backup vehicles, helps all logistics, provides harmonica music at key times!
John is a retired businessman from Durban. He drives the Avis-provided backup vehicle and quietly knows everything about the most essential things like mechanics, electrics, engineering.
Anton is volunteering with the Tracks of Giants expedition on a university gap year. Mr. Everything works on the back up team as an assistant cameraman, cook and organizer.
Elephants Without Borders
DR. MIKE CHASE & KELLY LANDEN
In the Tracks colleagues from the conservation organization Elephants Without Borders is EWB founder and Director, Dr. Mike Chase and Program Manager, Kelly Landen, who have been monitoring elephant movements throughout southern Africa for over a decade. They were consulted during the expedition planning stage to ensure and verify elephant migration routes and donated an elephant satellite telemetry collar for the team to carry on the journey. Through this collar the expedition can be followed in real-time on our interactive map, similarly how EWB track elephants. They have also helped with logistics in Botswana and will be joining the team as they traverse, EWB’s home territory within Chobe National Park.
Claire currently works for the Wilderness Foundation, SA three days a week as part of a contract with Siyathetha Communications – one of the leading communications companies in the region. (Siyathetha means “We are talking” in isiXhosa). At the WFSA, she helped to set up the organisation’s website and social media program. Claire established a social media presence for the WFSA, Umzi Wethu and Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative. In addition to her web and social media background, she also has experience with basic graphic design and creative & business-related journalism. For the TRACKS expedition, Claire is the primary Media Contact and also provides the public with immediate Twitter updates from the Core Team! To contact Claire with any media questions/contacts, email her at: email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Tracks on Twitter! @TracksOfGiants
Melanie is the Communications Manager at The WILD Foundation based out of Boulder, Colorado, USA. For the Tracks of Giants expedition, she runs and updates all website content and uploads/organizes all incoming images from the field. At WILD she manages multiple websites, social media platforms & blogs. In addition to web and social media, Melanie contributes her design and photography skills to the WILD’s communications program. For questions about the Tracks website and images, contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
BRITT HOSMER PETERSON
Britt Peterson, LEED AP, is the US-based Manager for the Tracks of Giants expedition, associate of The WILD Foundation, and also serves as the president for Rock Environmental LLC, an international conservation consulting business which works with various NGOs and nonprofits. As well as being the US Manager for Tracks, she also runs the social media program for the expedition. For any questions or comments, you may contact her at: email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Tracks of Giants on Facebook!