“My experience at the Elephant Sanctuary was beyond words. It was the first time I’d been away from home for a long period of time and I felt right at home with my fellow peers. The staff were very friendly and included us in the activities with smiles, laughs and encouragements. It was as if I never left home. we all became family.
Wayne was awesome! He would answer all our questions and make learning about the elephants more fun and interesting. His knowledge about animals and elephants alone is phenomenal as well as his ability to teach, lecture and have fun at the same time. He is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the honour of learning from!
The elephants themselves are the heart of the program; their friendliness towards us and the way they interacted with us was both life changing and an experience I’ll never forget! The Ellies are well taken care of and are very happy in their environment and with their handlers. I highly recommend this program; it’s both healing and educational at the same time as well as extremely fun. You leave the program with a life time of memories and knowledge about the elephants that you’ll always remember with great fondness.”
“I’m finding it very hard to try and sum up my overall experience as I took so much away from the trip with Edu-Eco Wizard and The Elephant Sanctuary at The Crags in South Africa. I absolutely loved my trip to South Africa and I’m very glad I decided to go with Edu-Eco Wizard, as I experienced things I believe I would not have encountered if I’d chosen another company. To be able to have the hands on and close up experiences with the elephants was truly life changing and it has made me re-think my future, now I would relish the opportunity to work with wildlife, particularly in South Africa.
One of my favorite moments was seeing the elephants in their morning training and free feeding in the bush, seeing them so closely was absolutely unforgettable. Also, meeting an array of different people who work at The Elephant Sanctuary and feeling part of the team so quickly, as everyone was very welcoming. It was a unique experience and it has greatly enriched me to do work that I have never done before (such as mucking elephant poo, which I really enjoyed – it is a kind of meditation – or collecting branches for the elephant’s food). Another highlight was sleeping adjacent to the elephant’s stalls and hearing them throughout the night, rubbing against the walls and moving about. There was never a dull moment in the program, and it exceeded my expectations. There isn’t more hands-on work than actually touching a beautiful animal like that.
Most importantly, Wayne Johnson was an absolutely inspirational guide and instructor, for all the wildlife we encountered, and conservation and management in general. His focus and passion for his work and all wildlife was impressive to each one of us. Wayne set an excellent example with his solid work ethic, time management skills, enthusiasm, positive attitude and incredible adaptability. I find myself grateful for an amazing adventure.
The most inspirational part of this whole experience, though for me, was being able to spend time with, learn about, and experience the elephants through Wayne’s dedication, affection and enthusiasm for them. I already had a great interest in elephant husbandry and management, but that was multiplied exponentially by the passion and breadth for which Wayne runs the program.
I also wanted to thank each member of the Eco-Edu Wizard Staff as well as The Elephant Sanctuary at The Crags that made this opportunity possible and specifically thank and recognize those who made my experience, and that of the other volunteers I shared my time with, especially memorable and inspirational. I had a great 3 weeks volunteering and feel honored to have been involved in the program.”
Incline Village, NV USA
This was our first time in magnificent South-Africa exploring the Garden route and the wine region. Our two walks with Wayne from Walking Adventures were definitely highlights during this wonderful trip. The first one was in Buffalo Hills nature reserve where we stood eye in eye with giraffes, zebras and other animals. This was a truly great experience.
As Wayne turned out to be a very friendly and knowledgeable guide we decided to go for another walk in Robberg the next day and explore the peninsula: completely different landscape with dunes and beautiful seaside. Our walks with Wayne were great, as he makes you aware of all the interesting things that there are to see and that you would otherwise just pass by without noticing. Thanks Wayne for two great walks!
Kitty and Eric Bakker, The Netherlands
Our time here on the 2-Week African PrediCat program has been amazing, amazing, amazing !!!
We have enjoyed our time alone with you and when you tell stories about all your experiences with wild animals. It’s great to hear how passionate you are about what you do. You know way more than just two facts.
You should know that you have been the ideal and perfect project leader for this project and it has exceeded our expectations.
The two weeks here has expanded our knowledge about wild African animals and why an awareness centre is so important. We now know for sure what the difference is between an awareness centre and zoo-like parks, and we will take this knowledge back with us.
We really appreciate everything you have done for us. All the times you have driven us around, picked us up, arranged tours for us and last but not least for being so patient with us. You truly are an amazing man.
Gail (SAVE) became our mother away from home and now we have a father too.
Love The Danish Dames – Diana, Sara, Signe, Louise, Maria, Maiken, Emma and Nanna
I have spent two-weeks at the African PrediCat Eco-Learning Program and I had the best time ever there. You get to see all aspects of how to operate a facility like the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. We got to get on tours with the guides and learned all they knew about the animals, we also helped prepare their food and helped feeding the animal’s and we saw the rehabilitation centre first hand where they treat the sick animals. That was my favourite part to see how they actually helped the animals.
Besides that I really loved our project leader, Wayne. He told us all about his own experiences out in the wild and all the stories he knew and the knowledge he imparted about each animal. That was the best to hear these things from someone who actually has tried it all himself and to hear his opinion about the animals and Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. He also spoke about other places like it and places where only wrong is done to the animals as in the case of captive breeding of lions for the Canned Lion Hunting Industry.
Wayne is a great man and has made my experience here so much better than I could ever have hoped for.
Thank you, Wayne.
Diana – Denmark
African Edu-Eco Wizard is a great place to learn about the African Wild Cats. You get the opportunity to work with the crew at Tenikwa and with them get close to the Wild Cats and other predators but on their terms.
There is an amazing atmosphere on the project and you really learn a lot with the passionate crew and in particular Wayne our project leader.
In the program you will be working in three aspects – tourism guiding and behaviour; the Rehabilitation Centre; and Husbandry, Feeding, Care and Welfare of all the animals. So you will both get the chance to do some practical dirty work but also to study the animal’s behaviour. All these aspects are very important for an awareness centre to work and it’s a great experience to be a part of it.
One of the best experiences was when we built an enrichment system for the Honey Badger. It’s been a truly amazing time here at Tenikwa and under the professional guidance of Wayne, our project leader.
Signe – Denmark
My time at African Edu-Eco Wizard has been amazing. I came here with an open mind, but I was also sceptical about certain things. In spite of my sceptic attitude, the program went beyond my expectations and made me see some of the things more clearly. In just two weeks I have learnt more about African Wild Animals that I could never imagine. I now know the importance of an awareness centre like this is and which factors you need to take into account to keep it going. My knowledge about wild animals is something I will bring back home and share with the people around me. Let them know the real story of the Wild African nature. The staff at African Edu-Eco Wizard is amazing as is the staff at Tenikwa. Our project leader Wayne’s passionate stories take you into the interesting world of wildlife. Thank you for everything Wayne.
Nanna – Denmark
This program is highly recommended. Lunch was a well presented tasty feast.
Loretta Bevilacqua – UK/Italy/South Africa
The second thing that is great about this project is the leader Wayne. I have never met anyone as passionate as him about wildlife and it’s so incredible to be around him. He is also always there to help you if you need anything or want to do something on the weekends. He made it the best experience it could possibly ever be. AMAZING.
Maiken – Denmark
As an eco-volunteer you will help with the overall maintenance as well as in the rehabilitation clinic. In an awareness centre all the animals are in a quassi captive environment which means the animals have the freedom of choice as to hide from the tourist on tours should they want to – unlike a zoo.
As an eco-learners program you get the opportunity to study the animals regarding their natural behaviour. My main topic over the two-weeks has been the Honey Badger which needed enrichment to activate some of his natural hunting and foraging instincts. The building of the enrichment gym for the honey badger has been one of my favourite parts of this program among many others. You really got to see the honey badger challenged.
This project is an amazing opportunity to work with some truly passionate people, especially Wayne, our project leader. Thank you, Wayne for making this a memorable and not to forget experience.
Maria – Denmark
The Carter Family – (All eight of us) – NewYork, USA
My experience at the elephant sanctuary was one that I will never forget. From day 1 all of the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming, immediately making us feel at home and a part of the team. They always went out of their way to check in with us and include us in the daily activities. One of my favourite activities that we would take part in was collecting branches in the mornings and afternoons which we then would disperse among the fields for the elephants to eat. The one on one close up time that we had with the elephants was truly life changing. Being able to observe them so closely for hours at a time really made me appreciate what beautiful magical creatures they really are. One thing that I didn’t realize about elephants before taking part in the program is how distinct each of their personalities are. This became apparent the more and more time we spent with them. It was so amazing to see how comfortable they began to feel around us after about 2 weeks.
Wayne was an extremely knowledgeable and inspirational instructor. Each day Wayne expressed his dedication, enthusiasm, and passion he has towards not only the elephants but wildlife conservation and its importance. He was always able to answer any questions we had and also told us many stories about his experiences he’s had out in the bush which were very interesting. I am so grateful that I was able to take part in this program and I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested. I want to thank Wayne and all the staff for making my experience so memorable and life changing.
Nina Shehadi, USA
South Africa is more beautiful than I’d thought.
I did the 2 Week Elephant Learning Program this past March and the Crags where the Elephant Sanctuary sits, is in a very pleasant green and rolling woodland.
My quarters at the Sanctuary was a good sized, comfortable, modern double room with large bathroom backing onto the elephant barns. (Knowing they were bedded down just behind my wall only added to the charm of the place.)
The very friendly staff and manager were always around when needed and made me feel like part of the place.
The 5 large beauties were right there, huffing and rumbling and grazing. I quickly began to see that they are special and complex creatures who have found a safe and well designed haven where their many handlers are clearly also their friends. I feel I got to know them as very different personalities with their own quirks and personalities, and better yet, I feel they got to know me. There was something very special about getting a big wet trunk greeting in the evening when they were in the paddock always looking for a special treat or handful of grass. I will miss their intelligent eyes and laughable antics.
In 2 weeks I learned so much about elephant anatomy, ecology, communication, habits and continually threatened habitat. Sometimes it was heartbreaking but always it was fascinating.
These elephants are treated with positive reward training and love, and nevermore will be abused or at risk.
Our guide and mastermind, Wayne, clearly loves and admires these gentle giants and has a world of stories, anecdotes and deep knowledge that he’s clearly happy to share.
And he’s a pretty good cook.
I never felt threatened or unsafe there and am looking forward to returning for my next adventure.
Pamela Gibson – Montreal, Canada
7 March – 4 April 2016
I had an amazing experience with Wayne and the Elephant Program at African Edu-Eco Wizard. Of course everyone has their pre-conceived notions about sanctuaries and other captive environments, so it was incredible to be part of sanctuary that cares deeply about the elephants’ needs and everyday lives. I walked away from the program feeling like I had been educated both formally and informally about African elephants as a species. From research projects that Wayne gave us to more casual conversations with Wayne and Peter Otto (general manager of the sanctuary), I began to understand that the future of these magnificent animals lies partly in the hands of those willing to provide them adequate love, space and enrichment in quasi-captive environments. I heard so many stories, engaged in stimulating conversations and had up-close-and-personal experiences that I never dreamed of having. The staff at the elephant sanctuary are a wonderful team and I value the friendships I made while participating in the day-to-day maintenance of the sanctuary. It also made me appreciate how much work it is to take care of five wild animals!
The elephants themselves are unique and beautiful creatures and provided the perfect situation for learning. They each have their own distinct personalities – this becomes obvious the more time you spend around them. It took a week or two for the elephants to become comfortable around us, but once they did it was unbelievable. Thandi literally pushed her way into a picture next to me one time. You can read as many books as you want; until you spend personal time with elephants you won’t understand how social and human-like they really are. There were times I felt a real connection, like they were understanding me – it’s definitely an emotional experience.
Our time spent at Addo was equally as impressive. We saw literally hundreds of elephants, as well as lion, zebra, caracal, plenty of warthog and various antelope, among lots of other animals! It was very cool to end the program with Addo. We were able to actually see in the bush what we had been learning about.
As someone who is interested in conservation in general and the future of elephants specifically, this program provided me with an ideal base. I can’t thank Wayne and the guys at the elephant sanctuary enough for one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.
Shannon Burke, USA