Rifumo Mathebula is the programme director for Wild Shots Outreach, a non-profit organisation and environmental education programme that teaches young South Africans from rural communities about wildlife and conservation. It also develops photography and other employment skills in the tourism and environmental sectors.
Mathebula grew up in an impoverished area near the Kruger National Park. Like many young people in his community, he had never visited a game reserve or learned about wildlife and conservation. He was introduced to the Wild Shots Outreach course and he loved it so much that he persuaded its founder Mike Kendrick to run the workshop at his high school — and organised the event himself!
This course inspired his passion for wildlife photography and conservation, motivating him to attain a certification in advanced photography after graduating from high school. Mathebula has since gone from being a part-time volunteer at Wild Shots Outreach to becoming its programme director. He organises and leads workshops with schools and youth foundations, liaising with safari lodges to host game drives so that students can capture their experiences of seeing wildlife for the first time.
Mathebula has spoken at the international Leadership for Conservation in Africa webinar and other conservation programmes. He has also taken the Wild Shots Outreach programme to Botswana, where he worked with three local communities that live near protected areas. He has gained recognition for his photography; some of his work was featured in the award-winning short film Beyond the Fence and in national publications.
He believes that the biggest barriers to young people connecting with the need for conservation are poverty, a lack of resources and a lack of aspiration. He strives to be a positive role model for young people — particularly those from impoverished communities — inspiring them to connect with nature.
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