Jane-Marie Maphanyane has been a great lover of nature ever since childhood when she was growing up in the remote peripheries of Serowe.
A conservationist by nature, Maphanyane responded to her second calling- teaching, in 1977 after graduating from Nkrumah Teacher training college. When she landed her first job at Lundazi secondary School in Zambia’s northern province her focus was on English, Physics and Management but she never forgot to read about nature and environmental conservation. “I have always been in touch with nature and I ensured that whatever work I did, did not harm the environment in any way. I yearned to return home but part of the post study requirement was to work for three years in Zambia. When I left Zambia I came back to Botswana and was posted to Matshekge Secondary School where I worked for ten years and later became school head.”
Maphanyane’s service in the country’s education system spans decades as after Matshekge she has been school head at Patikwane CJSS from 1991 to 2001 before heading Ramokgonami CJSS from 2002 to 2005. Her teaching career came full circle in 2008 when she retired after spending two years at Montsamaisa Secondary School in Francistown.
While most people would have preferred to sit and enjoy their retirement packages, Maphanyane said she decided to take to the bush and reconnect with her greatest love, nature. She now sits in the management board of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary as Head of the Education Centre. “I could not have gone anywhere else apart from the bush. I really love nature and I decided that I’ll spend the rest of my life imparting my knowledge of the bush to other people especially students.”
Maphanyane knows every corner of the sanctuary and as the interview continued, she took The Voice crew on a walk and in the process, explaining the nature and purpose of every tree. While the walk was just what we needed after a long drive, Maphanyane , explained that it was not just a walk in the park as the sanctuary was home to wild animals including the dangerous White and Black Rhino. “All you need to give them is the space and respect because they can be very dangerous,” she says and goes on and on explaining the condition of the environment.
As head of the Education Centre at the sanctuary, Maphanyane’s department educates school groups on environment and conservation issues. “The centre was established in 1987 and we accommodate students who come here on educational tours. For those who stay overnights or longer we have dormitories and ablution blocks for their convenience. The sanctuary is run by a board of trustees and membership is drawn from Serowe, Paje and Mabeleapodi. The revenue earned through tour activities is generated towards the upkeep of the sanctuary and some of the money benefits the communities in the area.” For those seeking a career in nature conservation, Maphanyane says, it begins with the love and passion and that after that there are various career options such as game scouts, game wardens, rangers, safari guides and others.