Dave has been at Rifa since October 2009, with the dual role of managing the camp, and becoming fully involved with the educational programme. He was born in Bulawayo, in the west of Zimbabwe, and his love for the bush was acquired as a child, living on various ranches in Matabeleland, and attending R.E.P.S. primary school on the edge of the spectacular Matobo Hills. As a young man, he joined the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, and spent several years posted to remote areas of the country. He became a Professional Hunter/Guide soon after Zimbabwe became independent. He has been involved with a certain amount of hunting, but has spent most of his career as a guide and camp manager in the photographic safari industry. He is thoroughly enjoying the transfer over to conservation education, and teaching young Zimbabweans. He is a keen amateur photographer.
Camp Manager / ‘Learner’ Guide – Elspeth Baillie
Dave’s partner Elspeth helps to manage the camp, and assists with the educational programme. She has worked with Dave in the safari industry for many years, mainly on the administrative side, but always with a primary interest in wildlife. In due course she obtained her ‘Learner’ Guide’s Licence, and was able to spend more time in the field. Her original qualification was a degree in English Literature, and a teacher training. She is convinced that it is just as important for students to draw a picture of a tree, or write a poem about it, as it is for them to learn its name!
Education Officer / ‘Learner’ Guide – ‘Freedom’ Hlongwane
‘Freedom’ joined the Rifa team in May 2011, and threw himself wholeheartedly into the programme, immediately establishing a good rapport with the students. He was brought up in Matabeleland, and learnt much wisdom from his grandmother. For most of his career he has been working in the Hwange National Park area. He became a field assistant for a lion research programme there, and then a Conservation Liason Officer, which involved teaching conservation programmes at local schools. After a period as a field assistant with a CIRAD research programme, he joined the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and became a Ranger with the Scientific Services section at Hwange Main Camp. Here he was involved with a wide variety of game monitoring and research programmes. He has fallen in love with the diversity of the Zambezi Valley environment, and carries a notebook packed with queries and observations!
Stefan Chibisa – Camp Assistant
The day to day care of the camp is Stefan’s responsibility. He has been working at Rifa for 15 years, and is familiar with the foibles of the plumbing system, and the challenges of refuse disposal in a situation where the neighbours are baboons! His home area is Magunge, about 100 km from Rifa. His wife and his two youngest sons stay with him at Rifa, the boys attending primary school in Chirundu.
Tapera Magarangoma - Camp Assistant
Tapera’s started with us in 2009, having been employed previously at the crocodile farm at Kariba. He works with Stefan, keeping the camp in good order. He also comes from the Magunge area. His wife is with him at Rifa; and their young son, with much enthusiasm, has recently started attending pre-school in Chirundu.