Meet the team

Ulovane Environmental Training was established in 2005 by Schalk and Candice Pretorius, both of whom had gained significant experience, working first in Game Lodges and later as lecturers, and managers of the Bush Academy. This couple has been associated with conservation in the lodge and guiding industry for almost 20 years. The students become a part of the family and this is very important to the Pretorius’s who have three children of their own. 

All of our Trainers have their required FGASA qualifications to conduct Training and they are all FGASA assessors. The Trainers have also qualified as specialists in various fields, such as Birding, Dangerous game, Trails Guiding, Marine and Tracking.

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Schalk Pretorius

Course Management, Training & Mentor

Schalk has a passion and dedication for training and developing guides that has grown from strength to strength over the years. He has been guiding since 1996 and has achieved his Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) Level 3, Special Knowledge and Skills (SKS) in Dangerous Animals and Birds as well as being a qualified FGASA Marine Guide and Level 4 Tracker. Schalk has been a FGASA accredited trainer and assessor since 2001 and is registered as an accredited Culture Arts Tourist, Hospitality Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) assessor and has the relevant Education and Training and Quality Assessor (ETQA) assessor and moderator qualifications. He serves on the FGASA Executive committee as Chairman for the Eastern Cape and plays a huge role in ongoing development and training of all guides in the Eastern Cape.

Schalk is in his element and at his best when in nature, exploring and sharing his knowledge of the bush with enthusiastic learners. Most importantly he has the experience, knowledge and passion for nature, which he enjoys sharing with others. Schalk coordinates and guides the Ulovane Team to ensure that the students are provided with the best training and personal development. He also ensures that once you have spent time at Ulovane that, you are able to go out into the guiding industry being the best of the best; Schalk is a great motivational speaker that has coached and assisted many people over the years.

Advice from Schalk:

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure” – Colin Powell

 “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt

 “The purpose of life is a life of purpose” – Robert Byrne

Candice Pretorius

Marketing & Sales

Candice has been involved in the lodge industry since 1996 and has built a wide network of contacts within the lodge industry all over South Africa. Networking and organising people, places, events, and lives has always been a part of her everyday life. After school she knew that people and nature were going to play a huge part in her future and so she set out to make it happen. After a few months of sitting in an office as a travel agent, she was offered a front of house position at Mabula Game Lodge in Limpopo and the rest is history. Since then it has been a wonderful experience to work and live on different game reserves in South Africa. Finally settling down in the beautiful, friendly, family orientated Eastern Cape. In 2005, Schalk and Candice decided it was time to try and start up their own training facility with their own ideas and visions. Little did they know there were so many other people who shared our crazy ideas, visions and passion for people, nature, and wildlife.

Thanks to her passion for people, places and knowledge and experience of the lodge and hospitality industry,  Candice was the lucky (and only) one to head up the marketing and recruitment side for Ulovane. It has been a crazy journey learning all about marketing from scratch and making it work with what little we had and what little she knew. 14 years on and she manages the PR, website, social media, marketing and sales and all enquiries and reservations for Ulovane, Candice is your first point of contact.

All students both past and current are considered to be a part of the family and because of her love for long hours of chatting via email, text, social media, and phone Candice ensures that we have an open communication line with all past students and get in touch with new students, parents and anyone else interested in knowing more about what we do. Candice is a passionate conservationist and believes that we all need to stand together and fight to keep our nature and wildlife safe. Candice and Schalk are blessed with 3 beautiful children, who are also passionate nature and people lovers and are sure to follow in their parents footsteps. They keep them on their toes along with all their other ‘bush children’.

My motto for life – Onwards and Upwards!

Piet Dunn

Facilitator ( Trails & Bird Guide Courses)

I started my guiding career in 2008 when I attended Ulovane Environmental Training for my FGASA Level 1 qualification. I passed the course and started guiding on Amakhala Private Game Reserve where I started to build up the necessary requirements to move on to my FGASA Level 2 qualification.

I spent 5 years as a guide on different reserves including Pumba Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape and also Kapama Private Game Reserve in Limpopo. During these 5 years of guiding, I furthered my position to head ranger and my qualifications to FGASA Level 3, Advanced Rifle Handling, Trails Guide and Track and sign Level 2.

I have always had an incredibly big respect for Ulovane and the ethics I got taught years ago when I did my Level 1 qualification with them. After a few years of guiding, I wanted to make a bigger difference in the industry through maintaining a high ethical standard with guides and decided to make my way back to the place where it all began….ULOVANE.

I started as an instructor at Ulovane in January 2014 and have since then attained my assessors’ qualification as well as the Regional Birding Specialization for the thicket biome and moved my Track and Sign Level 3 up to a Level 4. I am extremely passionate about experiencing nature on foot and being able to get a better understanding of nature by really being part of it. It is because of this that I started to specialize in Trails Guide (including tracking skills) and the always fascinating bird life out in the bush. I have achieved all the regional birding qualifications of all biomes this year in order to achieve the National Birding qualification and completed the SKS Birding.

There are few people still left who still really care for nature and preserve our wonderful diversity in South Africa, come and be part of exceptional training in ethics and skills and be part of the change we can make to our environment.

An ethical guide is someone who does the right thing when there is nobody there to see them do it…are you up for the challenge?

Shani Preller

Facilitator (Field Guide, Trails Guide and Marine Guide Courses)

I started out as a guide in 2004 and moved on to training in 2006, and been training guides ever since, well most of the time… I did do lodge management for about a year and a half, but really missed the training. I just absolutely love to share whatever knowledge I have with enthusiastic students. I am also learning all the time and thus, love new challenges. I have trained all over South Africa, in Botswana and Tanzania. What I like about the industry is exactly that – you never know everything, although I would love to be able to know every single star, tree, bird, grass, fish… it is just not possible, and being a trainer keeps one on ones’ toes the whole time, you constantly need to learn and better yourself.

There is no better feeling if students come to you after a course saying that you changed their lives or outlook and they want to be better people. I am very passionate about what I do, I love people and students are always my first priority – be it their training, happiness or welfare.

I always try to make the students also see the bigger picture and that they should respect nature and all that she has to offer, because, without it, we would not be here. I believe in the smaller things and how it all fits into the ecosystem and where we fit in and how very small we are compared to this great creation.

My favourite thing out there is tracking (if I have to choose one). I also love plants, especially the medicinal uses of plants.

My favourite quote is: “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” and to me that is a big part of life – we need to respect everything out there and be more aware of what we do to this earth!

Melissa Gomes

Marketing and Training Assistant

Meet Melissa, our Zimbabwean fishing, camping, nature lover! Melissa spent most of her childhood in Zimbabwe, fishing, camping and appreciating the beauty and nature of various national parks in Africa and South Africa. Becoming a guide or working in the bush has always been her dream job. She is truly passionate about animals and the world in which we live with them.  As humans there is so much we can still learn from the harmony and balance in which nature exists.

Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Management, and she also is part of the Ulovane Alumni. She attended our One year course in July 2017. Melissa completed her FGASA Field, Backup Trails (theory) and Marine guide training. This was the start to her guiding career where she worked for a year on Amakhala Game Reserve as a guide for one of the lodges. She has now returned to where it all started to learn more, grow further and assist with campus operations, marketing and trainer assistant.

Something that was of utmost importance to Melissa before she chose a training provider, was that their respect and ethics towards the environment was a priority. Ulovane provided exactly this and more, and she is thankful and proud to have studied in a place that holds ethics as the most important way to guide; because there isn’t really another way to do it!

Before Melissa’s journey here in the Eastern Cape began, she was a preschool teacher in the North West province. Very early on in life, she knew her place in this world was to combine educating future generations together with nature. Both teach us the purity and simplicity of how life can really be; animals teach us unconditional love and the ability to just be; children teach us humility and to keep it simple, while having fun. It is a privilege to be able to teach anyone, to be able to constantly learn and share in the growth of a person is a gift. Teaching provides the type of rewards one cannot quantify!

Melissa has an insatiable hunger for knowledge; and being out here in the bush, there is never one single day that goes by where she does not learn something new! And that is beautiful.

Something she truly believes in is that the small things ARE the big things!

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”

 Justin Barlow

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Facilitator (Field Guide Courses)

Having grown up on a family game reserve, one can say it is in my blood to be outdoors and part of wildlife. One of my fondest memories is exploring all that was unknown to me as a young boy, trying to satisfy this hunger for knowledge.

After matriculating at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, I decided to study a 3yr National Diploma course in Game Ranch Management via NMMU. I started my guiding career in 2011, shortly after completing my FGASA Level 1 course via Shamwari. I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity by Amakhala Game Reserve to put my guiding skills to work. Once I discovered the beauty and diversity of this incredible reserve, it simply became a part of me. From this point, I set out to achieve my FGASA Level 2 and Albany thicket biome specialist in 2013. A wise man once told me “It’s not what you already know, it’s what you don’t know” so following some good advice I finally achieved a Bachelor of Technology in Game Ranch Management in 2015. After hard work and dedication, I was finally given the privilege of becoming Head Ranger of Amakhala Game Reserve. It just goes to show, if you out in the time and effort then hard work will always be rewarded!

Training has always been a lifelong dream of mine and after 6yrs guiding my dream has come true, it is time to give back to the guiding industry for all the opportunities it has given me.

Once again a have been absolutely blessed to become part of a family who have an enormous amount of passion for wildlife, nature and people and who always strive for the best and nothing less.

“He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail!”

 

Jacques Pretorius

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Jacques left the South African Police Services in order to start his own business in building maintenance, plumbing, and electrical construction. Jacques also recently joined the Ulovane team and is a great asset. Jacques will make sure that the vehicles and the lodge is in tip-top shape. Jacques has done a 4×4 and advanced driver course and will assist students with their 4×4 skills. He enjoys good food and will be assisting Mamma Thabs with producing healthy and exciting meal plans and delicious food! Jacques really is a part of the family being Schalk’s brother….yes we really do keep it in the family!

Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living!

 

Thabisa and Joyce

Joyce and Thabs

Chef and Housekeeper

These are the ladies you should look after during your time with us! Mamma Thabs makes sure the kitchen is fully stocked with fresh produce and that a healthy menu is planned on a weekly basis. The smells that come from the kitchen are to die for and anything you want to try in the kitchen, Mamma Thabs is the lady to ask.

Joyce ensures the camp is always ready for visitors and is in tip top shape. She is there to assist us with your washing and ensures your rooms are neat and tidy. Wonder woman is definitely her middle name!

We love and appreciate these ladies very much! Without them the show can definitely not go on!

 

Ben Bremer

Landowner Ulovane Reserve

Ben is our longest student at Ulovane; he arrived in 2005 and has continued his studies since then. He purchased 350 hectares of land in 2007 and began development by building Ulovane Camp. Ben is 100% behind green energy and sustainable lifestyle at the camp.

He has a Degree in Economics and is a qualified concrete engineer CB1, with 25 years of managing a concrete manufacturing plant in Holland. In 2000 he retired and wanted to do something more meaningful with his life – so he came to Africa! Ben is a Level 3 Trails guide and is passionate about nature and always asks the important question – WHY… Ben enjoys helping out with lectures and sharing his valuable knowledge with the students.

Never stop educating yourself and question everything.