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Wild Heart Foundation
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Fairglen Road, Wadhurst,
East Susssex,
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Dear all,
I would like to share with you an experience one of our project partners in ZA has recently shared with us: The spiritual experience that is a wilderness trail.

Wilderness trails are one of the projects we support. Some of our partners in KwaZulu Natal are guides. Trails help young people and others to reconnect with their environment and realise the need to protect and enhance it.

Mduduzi Merriman Gumede sent me this report of her recent experience:

The Wilderness trail is indeed a spiritual journey and also journey of discovery.

Arrival date

The trail party gathered at School headquarters at Kenneth Stainbank on 04 August 2016 , the date before the trail is a lovely day then and sweet Invasion went into the Park. Persons who participated were : Mduduzi Gumede was joined by another 7 participants.   Arrival the day before the starting of the trail served a number of purposes:  punctuality and social bond creation amongst the group itself and also with Guides, creation of a state of readiness for the trail. A participants received a warm welcome received from Mrs Curry and the Wilderness Leadership School which was quite amazing.

Purpose of the trail

It aimed at the creation and expansion of environmental awareness and to kick off “Ndwedwe Environmental Education and Community development programme ” , using Ekwazini-Kwaloshe as a local education centre. Ndwedwe local Municipality promised to pledge R300 000.00 (about £17,000) investment into the programme and the Ewing’s continued its generous sponsorship , as a kick off.

Wilderness Trail

After breakfast , briefing and packing under Mandla Gumede leadership and guidance , we began the long journey to Hluhluwe -Imfolozi Park.  On arrival at Nyalazi gate, we had lunch and took pictures and then went inside.
Just before that moment , we were joined by Baba Mdiceni Gumede. He and, Mandla G led the group for a very short distance , ordered us to sit down for an essential briefing before the walk. After it the long journey into Wilderness started to unfold.

We went passing the wallowing pools and just before arrival at First bend Camp , we bumped to a Baboons troop, what an exciting moment to see an Alpha Male leading and barking at them , as they made their way up the cliffs. It was about bedtime !!!

We started preparing the camp site and made fire from collected woods – being very aware of our impact on nature. Before cooking we had a greeting tea break and then supper.

Night Watch
The Guides gathered us for a night watch briefing, which is very scary on first experience. It was very an exciting moment to be alone at the fire and hear a Pride Male roaring. The group had a disciplined conduct and the night watch was completed without disturbance of well deserved sleep.

Daytime and Night watch
We had breakfast and crossed the Black Imfolozi river, after we had glimpse of an alert crossing of troops of Baboons, just below the Crocodiles pool.
We learned of animals droppings and dungs and also Rhino dung maddens.
Before arrival at the next Camp, we saw two Inyala and two White Rhino and tried to betray their acute senses of smelling us. We respected the Wilderness and its Wildlife and enjoyed what it presented to us , for we were privileged to share the same environment.

We arrived and had lunch at the Second Camp. We enjoyed game viewing and story telling by Baba Gumede. He told of experience during early years with Dr Player , nicknamed ” Madolo ” , Magqubu Ntombela and other fellow Rangers.
On one occasion we saw Wild dogs running down the Imfolozi river, followed by Hyena , eventually there was a loud out cry on cliff top , further down the Camp and it was clear the Wild Dogs had made a kill. Eventually Vultures flocked down in large numbers. When we arrived , only a skin and hard to crush and chew bones remained. The Vultures were around and had finished everything.

Late a Bachelor herd (young male buffaloes) arrived just across the Camp. Our guide hoped that they would stay till the night when the Lions were likely to come. This would have allowed us to see the hunter drama nature drama can play. But the Buffaloes moved away unfortunately.


During the night watch , the Pride Male started roaring , moving down on the other side of the river and when we thought it was to roar very close , it stopped. It was then a peaceful night , we could only hear hyena calling from far and birds of the night , no scary noise. The White Rhino was the most visible from the Big five of Africa and the Impala are always in abundance.


Baboons were always presenting themselves and Monkeys visited us at the First bend Camp.

Legendary legacy
There is list of Conservation heroes in South African history , who during their times left remarkable footprints on the path we and whole World have to follow. These men of greatest destiny are : Colonel Jack Vincent , Ian Cedric Player , Nick Steele , Magqubu Qumbu Ntombela , Nolly Zoulumus , Norman Deane , Jim Feely and Paul Dutton and so forth. Dr Player was leading the team of Rangers , who fought a victorious battle against Poachers and saved the White Rhino from the brink of extinction. When asked by Dr Mccullum , and I quote ” I asked him to imagine a world without rhino and his response was immediate , over my dead body , he said “.

It is very very touching that most of them have passed on and only the last two of the above are still alive but very old. It is so sad to them to see the Poachers making a strong come back. It is quite delighting and interesting to associate ourselves with the School and be part of the excellent job of they do in ensuring success and sustainability in actions and not in words.

The onus is on us to support the School to continue its legal obligation of environmental good cause and we in the rural Ndwedwe are so fortunate to have them as a partner.

Way forward
As a way forward, this partnership should be nurtured and sustained. There is a knowledgeable team of School Guides alongside an energetic and visionary leader, Mrs Cherryl Curry and she always encouraging me to carry on. In our case , I kindly appeal for our Municipality to make the promised funding available for investment into ” Ndwedwe Environmental Education and Community Development Programme”. This is a catalyst we can utilize to conserve and explore Ndwedwe natural heritage and resources and create jobs and stimulate economic development , Conservation based tourism.


Thanks to participants , who wished the trail to restart when it ended. We wish to thank their families, too.

For enquiries plz refer to / Report compiled by :
Mduduzi Merriman Gumede
Imvelo Yesizwe Trust

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