There is so much beauty to see in this world and if our eyes and our hearts are open, we will never stop being amazed. Our vision is to give you an insight into that beauty and inspire you to live life to the full.
Through years of experience in wildlife, guiding, research, photography, community development and working with people, we have developed a unique way to create connections between the individual and the world around them. By creating mood, evoking emotions, and sparking deeper thought, The LionHeart Experience will ignite something within you and our passion is to see that fire burn
Who we are:
We are a husband and wife team with a love for people and nature.
Richard is an extremely passionate naturalist and has been involved in wildlife his whole life. He is a qualified guide and has years of experience in guiding, 4x4 expeditions throughout Southern Africa, and being involved in various research projects. He and his wife Candice worked on a two year leopard research project in iSimangaliso Wetland Park in 2014 - 2015 and created an identification profile for the cats in the park.
He has also had many years working intimately with people, having set up the Impendulo Community Project, an NGO and charity organisation in rural Zululand, and working alongside churches and youth groups.
His passion is to be a link between people and the beautiful world we live in. Using his photography and his wildlife expertise, he loves giving people an incredible and unforgettable experience as they encounter the beauty of nature. His photography is an expression of how he sees the world, and the Heart behind it all.
Candice was brought up on farms riding horses, and developed a deep love for the outdoors from an early age, her mom was born in Tanzania and grew up in the Kruger National Park so the wild runs in her blood. She and Richard got married in 2011 and
have been involved in leopard research, guiding, and various conservation projects and have a real passion for people. She has also been involved in church outreaches and mission trips both locally and internationally. She has a love for families, and a real gift in working with children. Candice comes alive when she sees an individual experience the overwhelming emotions of a 'first time' connection in nature, whether it is their first time holding a scorpion, bird or snake, or hearing the roar of a lion.
These moments make a lasting impact and this is their passion together.
* We are certified and meet all legal requirements - accredited for guiding, registered with the NDT,
have PDP licences and valid first aid.
Unique Wildlife Experiences for Schools
"I just wish my child would get outdoors more."
This is something we hear countless times, where ever we go.
There are not many things that create a better space to think, to learn and to grow, than being in the wilderness. There is something unique and magical that happens when we are in open spaces, and a critical part of human development, is that we give ourselves the opportunity to be mindful, to process, and to learn to appreciate the moment. In a world of busyness, technology, social media, T.V., reality shows, noise, traffic and the absolute chaotic clutter and bombardment of the distractions in the world, we lose our grasp of reality, and we live in a shadow of what our place really is in this world. There are also few things that make us feel more connected to reality, than interacting with beautiful creatures, face to face, in the pristine natural environments that many conservationists have fought so hard to preserve. This is what we provide through our experiences at The LionHeart Experience.
We have created a bush program that offers individuals, and groups, the chance to connect. To connect to nature. To connect to others. To connect with themselves. And to connect with something bigger than themselves.
Our unique programs are a blend of wildlife education, wildlife training, wildlife experiences, connection times, contribution towards conservation, contribution towards communities, and a heck of a lot of fun. Because we value family, relationships, and character, we include developmental skills, life skills, and wholesome input into the trips. For our connection courses (dads and lads, moms and sons, moms and daughters, dads and daughters), we do inoffensive, simple yet effective, 'bonding exercises' which are short, punchy but very open-ended, leaving breathing room for all the different dynamics of relationships and giving people a chance to move forward in their relationship, regardless of what state the relationship is in.
We use the bush, and the lessons in the bush, to teach life skills and life lessons, as we love to make a lasting and positive impact on fertile minds. What better way to do that than to use the beauty of nature?
We customise each trip so that we can have the maximum benefit. The following events will be combined so that the experience is varied, dynamic, impacting, and life-changing. Many of these are 'hands-on' experiences, and we take maximum care that there is absolutely no negative impact on the environment, maintaining complete safety for the participants at the same time, whilst creating a fun, enriching and fantastic
experience for all involved.
These events will have multiple outcomes. On top of the educational experience for the participants, we also are continually seeking to add to the world of science, by seekingdata on rare or data-deficient species, as well as documenting all of our finds for the use of reserve management. The learners get to take part in this.
Due to the poaching crisis that the rhinos in South Africa are facing, de-horning rhinos has become a last resort and the only option at present to protect these valuable species. This heavily costly exercise, forcing private reserves to spend massive amounts in order to maintain these operations, is a burdensome task that has to be done on a regular basis. A de-horning, however, is a very powerful and unique experience, that gives the participants a very emotive, up-close and personal encounter with these precious animals.
The learners and the school will be given the opportunity to raise the money for this operation, and can take part in the fight against rhino poaching. This gives them powerful ownership in an extremely valuable cause.
It is an experience that they will never forget. We also use this experience to speak life lessons into the learners as well as giving them opportunity back at camp to engage in debates around the legalisation of the rhino horn trade.
Camera trapping has revolutionised wildlife research around the world. We have had years of experience with camera trapping during our Leopard Research Project in iSimangaliso Wetland Park (among many other areas), and we always include camera trapping on our events. We teach the learners how to set up camera traps, divide them into teams, and they compete to see who can capture photographic documentation of elusive mammals, with certain target species being 'the prize'.
We usually target predators, as data on these are the most important for management, as well as being the most exciting for the participants to find. We also target various species that are either data deficient, or endangered, so that our camera trapping can be specific to the area and have significant impact.
Mammals and Veterinary Work:
Walks and game drives are taken to search for some of the more exciting species in the area. This opens a lot of space for discussions and educational sessions.
Game capture, collaring and veterinary work can (on occasion) be combined on the trip in order to add a unique element to the event.
Birding and Bird Ringing:
Bird ringing is a unique way to document information on birds, bird species, and individuals. It is also a once in a life-time experience for many, where participants will get to see birds up close, or even hold them, many of which they will not have seen before! The bird-ringing data is also logged into the SAFRING database, as well as given to the reserve management. When these events are run regularly, trends and interesting data can be submitted.
Where possible, frogging at night is a fantastic component of these events. This entails going carefully through a wetland with gumboots/waders, headlamps and torches and cameras and documenting/photographing all finds.
When and where possible, time is spent in rocky areas to find snakes, scorpions and spiders. This will comprise of rock lifting and carefully scanning rocky areas. We will find safe, non-venomous species and give those who want to, a chance to overcome fears, be brave and experience the thrill of safely handling these special creatures. Ethics and sensitivity towards the ecosystem is strongly stressed during all the events. It is so often
a fantastic opportunity to teach life lessons during this exercise.
During rock flipping sessions, scorpions will be found, but dedicated scorpion walks at night with UV lights will be more productive (and exciting, as the exoskeletons glow brightly) and with a larger group can produce good
data. This will obviously only be done in safe locations (particularly regarding dangerous game etc) and can be run in conjunction with star gazing sessions and hot chocolate picnics.
Hill tops, where the highest number of species congregate, are located during the heat of the day to target butterflies, and where Charaxes and other frugivorous species are present, butterfly bait traps (catch and release) are set up to get a closer look at some of the enigmatic species. This butterfly handling experience has been one of our most enjoyed events, and we have been amazed at how it has been the highlight for so many,
from the littlest of girls, to the largest of men.
Dragons and Damsels:
Dragonflies and damselflies will be photographed at wetlands during the heat of the day and will be an exciting introductory experience into the world of Odonata for most participants.
During the course of any of the particular events, all other taxa that are encountered or seen during each particular event will be documented and discussed, and the unpredictability of nature often throws welcome surprises, where rock-flipping sessions may be turned into bird-watching sessions, or star-gazing sessions into genet social behaviour’’ observations. We stick to the programs as much as possible but where necessary, nature often changes the course of the Bio-Bash in the best ways possible.
We have various additional activities that we can also bring in to the events:
Star Gazing - Professor Derck Smidts - Professor of Astronomy Wits University - A guided tour through the universe and Star gazing
Venomous Snakes - Nick Evans - KZN Reptile and Amphibian Conservation: Captive snakes for handling and education
Butterfly Expert - Steve Woodall - Lepidopterist (Author Butterflies of Southern Africa). Butterfly traps and education
Schools that we partner with:
We have been working with Bishops Diocesan College since 2015 and annually have guided and now run most of their wildlife trips. We have also started working with Forres Preparatory School and are on our second consecutive year with them. We have worked alongside Reach Out Volunteers on various wildlife programs. The LionHeart Experience regularly hosts 'Bio-Bashes', which are Biodiversity surveys that are open to the public, and we gear them towards families so that adults and children can benefit, learn, contribute and enjoy the experience.
Our goal is to start to connect with many more schools, both in the public and private sector, in order to offer a unique and valuable experience. We are looking to secure a regular venue so that we can run these trips on at least a once-monthly basis. These trips would contribute drastically towards reserve management, as each one would cover the de-horning of at least one rhino, (excluding all the other benefits that will come from such events).
We have spent 10 years working in a Zulu community and founded the Impendulo Community Project. We both carry a real heart for the underprivileged and have worked in rural areas in South Africa, and in Uganda. Among many other programs, we have also done wildlife trips with rural schools, and this is a big part of our vision, to impact the future of our people, as well as make an impact on conservation by education to people from all walks of life.