Like so many growing up in the local communities surrounding Kruger National Park, Melody had never seen the incredible nature on her doorstep with her own eyes. She didn’t know that a career in nature or conservation existed beyond spending years – and an unimaginable amount of money – studying to become a vet. That is, until she had the opportunity to attend a Wild Shots Outreach (WSO) workshop in 2019.
The experience – as well as the realisation that such careers in nature DO exist – lit a passion for wildlife inside her so strong that she could think of nothing else. WSO founder Mike Kendrick recognised her determination and, after exploring potential career paths, the organisation generously sponsored Melody to get her driver’s license and attend a Nature Guide Training Course in early 2023. For Melody, it was the start of a dream come true.
Despite many challenges, not least her total lack of experience in this new environment, she never gave up. Each learning obstacle became the focus of her attention, first angering and then pushing her until she finally got it right. After two months, Melody proudly graduated as an Apprentice Guide and turned her mind to the next step in her dream – finding a guiding internship.
So it was not that long after her graduation, Melody learned of a WSO workshop being held at Koru Camp. With the support of her former mentor, Mike, she asked Koru Camp if she could help guide the group and put her newly-found knowledge into practice. Within a few days, her obvious passion had already won over the team and she was offered a two-week internship at Koru Camp to continue learning her craft. Those first two weeks soon grew into a full three-month internship as she became an integral part of the Koru team – helping out both around camp and out on safari with Joel.
Today, Koru Camp is so proud to have Melody as our guiding intern. Watching her enormous growth, both personal and professional, has been a true privilege. Whether it is improving her driving skills and guiding knowledge or learning how to cook in the kitchen with Tinyiko, she is a tribute to her hard work, passion and determination to succeed. From just a girl in her local community to a budding photographer, qualified Apprentice Guide and future trailblazer for young, black women in conservation – Melody’s transformation is the epitome of what strong collaborations and giving local communities access to nature can achieve.
Put in her own words, she says “This journey has been challenging but discovering how brave I am – like being able to walk in the wilderness – was a highlight that I never thought I could do. Koru Camp has been so helpful in teaching me many things I didn’t know before – even how to cook! I don’t come from a family-orientated background so the team and nature here feels like home to me. I’m so grateful to both Wild Shots Outreach and Koru Camp for these amazing opportunities. My message to anyone with a passion is, if you really want something, put your mind to it. Then, anything is possible.”
We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you Melody!
Words and images Emily Whiting