Thornybush Staff Profile – Cedric Zitha Tracker at Nkelenga Lodge

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Mpumalanga born and bred, Cedric came into the world at Bushbuck Ridge, close to Hazyview, and is one of a family of 11 children. At the tender age of 10, Cedric was dispatched to tend the goats, graduating to the esteemed position of cowherd when he was 15. Despite his family duties, Cedric still managed to complete his Grade 12 certificate.


After school he enrolled in a security services course and soon found work as a guard. Saving money from his meagre earnings Cedric then took a basic computer course and driving lessons to obtain his driver's licence.

In 2009, Cedric got a job as a porter at Londolozi game lodge, where he crossed paths with Alex van den Heever, founder of the Tracker Academy section of the South African College of Tourism, who was a guest of the lodge at the time.

Chatting to Cedric, Alex was impressed by his obvious love of the bush and in 2010, on a repeat visit, enquired if Cedric would like to further his studies in the field of wildlife tourism and asked for his CV.

In January of 2011, Cedric was enrolled in the South African College for Tourism (SACT) in the Eastern Cape.

All new graduates are tested on their existing tracking knowledge and Cedric remembers the embarrassment of achieving just 10% for this initial assessment. After six months of training, he had improved enough to achieve almost 100% on the same test, and in November he passed his level 3 exam. Within a week Thornybush Private Game Reserve had snapped up Cedric for a position as an intern tracker at Waterside Lodge. Three months later he was moved to a permanent position as tracker at Nkelenga.

Nkelenga was Cedric's home from early 2012 until 2014 when he married one of the staff members from Chapungu Camp, continuing with his studies toward a game guide qualification.

In July 2015, Cedric became a fully-fledged, qualified game guide and was offered a permanent post back at Nkelenga. To this day, he wows guests with his skill, passion and dedication towards his job; "Shoes and Cedric made our stay at Nkelenga even more special - wonderful men who are passionate and knowledgeable about the bush." – Mandy B, TripAdvisor

Despite his success, Cedric remains humble and grounded, eternally grateful to those who have nurtured his love of wild spaces and supported him throughout his career.

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017