I met Johannes, our guide, on a recent visit to the Desert Rhino Camp in Damaraland, north west Namibia.
We spent a full day wild black rhino trekking and were thrilled to have a close sighting of a mother and calf – registered by the Save The Rhino Trust monitors as Topknot and Troy. During our tasty picnic lunch prepared by the guides, Johannes told me of his achievement of training to become a wildlife guide, a prestigious job in Namibia.
His family from northern Namibia are small-holders and cattle breeders. Johannes was the youngest and while his brothers and sisters went to school, he was given the task of herding the cattle and goats and never went to school. His siblings helped him in the evening to discover some of what they had learnt at school and especially helped him with English. Eventually one of his brothers started work at a lodge in Damaraland and found a job for him there as a gardener. His subsequent request to work in the kitchen was turned down as he could not read the menu in English but he was offered washing up. Learning the menu by sending his sister a text message of each dish, he slowly learned written menu English and was given a chance to cook which he enjoyed. Eventually he had experience in the restaurant and the bar. His ability to learn and pleasant personality led to him being offered a chance to train full-time as a wildlife guide and to work at the Desert Rhino Camp.
Johannes now speaks good English, knows the names of plants, birds and wild animals – plus in Latin – and can follow tracks as if reading a book. He is proud of the black rhino conservation successes and of his country with its spectacular landscapes and wildlife. He has come far and we were fortunate to have him as our guide.
We will return to Desert Rhino Camp in October 2018.