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Cattle Herder to Professional Guide: Meet Alex Tembwe Mazunga

Tembwe Mazunga is known to his friends as Alex. The name Alex was decided upon after watching the film Alexander the Great and “because my English name is much easier to pronounce!” Alex was born and raised in northern Botswana in a village situated roughly 100 km from the town of Kasane.

His dad owned and farmed cattle and this is where Alex learned many valuable life skills, from tracking animals to the medicinal use of trees. These early learnings helped to shape his career as an Explorations guide at Wilderness Safaris.

Alex would make his way to school each morning – a 10 km walk – and then on weekends he would help care for his father’s cattle. Maize was one of the crops that his family farmed and Alex remembers many of the nocturnal animals such as porcupines and jackals that would often be seen eating the maize! “Every night we would run after them, chasing the animals out of the field.”

After turning 14, Alex was old enough to go hunting with his father and older brothers. Hunting for subsistence, as he explains, was still permitted in those days and it was here that his knowledge and interest in the bush first took hold.

“I learnt a lot about birds, trees and the animals of the area. There was always a lot of wildlife around – lion, hyaena, wild dog… I remember one morning watching as wild dogs chased a kudu straight into our crops. My brothers and I then chased after the wild dogs! Our school uniforms were paid for by selling crops or one of the cows or goats that we owned. I loved our walks to and from school each day. “

Alex completed his high school and at 18 years old he announced that he wanted to work in a place where he’d be able to see animals every day. He was aware that many game lodges had opened in the nearby area and had observed passing game vehicles on his daily walks to and from school.

“I would ask my friends where these vehicles were going and they informed me that the people were off to watch animals in Chobe National Park. I decided that I wanted to become a guide as soon as I finished school.

“But my dad would have none of it. He felt that I was too young to be a guide, knowing how dangerous wild animals can be. I decided to take up a job working at an Indian company that sold everything from cosmetics to televisions and perfume! I knew that this job was only something I was doing to pass time until I was old enough to become a guide.”

Alex then started working in Chobe Game Reserve as a trainee chef but quickly realised that he wanted to be outdoors instead. He was employed as a tracker for some time and then in 1999 after many hours of outdoor studying he applied for his guiding test and passed with excellent results, earning his professional guiding license. In 2000 he started working as a guide at Chobe Safari Lodge.

It was in 2003 that he had word from his cousin that Wilderness Safaris were looking for guides to work at Mombo Camp. “I quickly applied and in March 2003 I was permanently employed as guide for the company. I knew that Mombo was an amazing place and I couldn’t quite believe my luck. It was a lot of fun and I was always in awe of the abundance of game in the area.”

One, Alex’s wife, also has her guide’s license and it did not take long for her to join Alex at Mombo. During their five years at Mombo, both One and Alex were given management training and in 2008 were offered a management position at Kings Pool where they remained for two years.

The couple took a break for a bit working at another game lodge before accepting a position to return to Kings Pool to manage the camp in 2012. Alex was both a camp manager and guide. “In 2012 I took over as the General Manager of Vumbura North but after One fell pregnant we made the decision in 2015 that we would move back to town to Maun to look after the baby – and perhaps have more kids! We already have a nine-year-old son.

Alex is now based in Maun with his wife and is working as an Explorations Guide for Wilderness Safaris. He takes guests on trips, guiding them as their private guide throughout the duration of their safari. “I love my country and I love sharing the culture of Botswana with my guests as well as my knowledge of the bush, birds, wildlife and trees…

Wilderness Safaris is an amazing company to work for. I know that if I hadn’t joined the company all those years ago, I certainly wouldn’t be in the wonderful position that I am today…”

Written by Kate Collins, copywriter at Wilderness Safaris. This blog has been reposted in partnership with Wilderness Safaris.

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