Meet the Team
Executive Coordinator & Chief Operating Officer
Marie-Tinka was born and bred in Musina, where she completed her Matric. She obtained her BA (Hons) from Rhodes University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Witwatersrand.
After marrying Dr Wynand Uys, the couple moved permanently to the Hoedspruit Area in 1987.
Over the years, she has played a role in the conservation and sustainable development interface in the landscape, where she championed the declaration of the Kruger to Canyons UNESCO Biosphere Region in 2001.
Her work experience includes the coordination of the Rural Foundation’s Community Development Programme, a Short Course Coordinator at the Southern African Wildlife College, the Coordinator for the Tourism and Conservation Training Authority’s Skills Development Programme in the Region and a stint as a lodge manager (Ottersden River Lodge).
In 2012 she was appointed as the Executive Coordinator of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, a position that she currently holds.
Senior Programme Manager
Nicholas Theron has over 15 years’ experience related to the development and strategic management of conservation projects in South Africa. He has an MSc in Conservation Genetics obtained from the University of the Free State (cum laude) and a B-Tech in Game Ranch Management. During the early part of his career he spent time in the Lowveld focussed on the conservation of Southern Ground Hornbill where he developed a love for the Lowveld and its mountains. After a stint in the Eastern Cape and KZN Drakensberg, he returned to join the K2C team in 2016.
Nick is currently the Senior Programme Manager and oversees the Conservation and Catchment Programme which aims to formally secure and better manage critical ecosystems and water sources while exploring models to sustainably fund management and drive community beneficiation. Nicholas’ work allows him to interact with a diverse range of people and explore special places within the K2C Biosphere.
Wehncke van de Merwe
Conservation Programme Manager
Wehncke is the big friendly giant of the office and has been part of the K2C team since 2016. He completed a Masters degree in Environmental Management (SU) which focussed on taking an ecosystems approach to development planning and he has a background in land use and water related landscape level planning and integration.
Wehncke joined K2C team as the buffer zone coordinator for Kruger National Park through the SANParks GEF 5 Protected Areas Programme, which he managed. He worked very closely with the K2C team; SANParks; LEDET and MTPA on various Kruger National Park buffer zone related priorities including protected area expansion and management effectiveness; as well as having been a key member of the team developing the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Programme where he provided land use and GIS expertise. The project was finalised in June 2022, with the K2C node ending up as one of the stand out sites across the country.
Through a secondment to The Nature Conservancy, Wehncke currently works as conservation programme manager for the Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere landscape. This exciting opportunity will see the development of multiple projects in the landscape associated with conservation priorities, with a particular focus on following the TNC Conservation by Design approach, which marries collaborative, science-based approaches and key analytical methods.
Environmental Monitors (EMs) Programme Manager
Vusi is a bubbly, energetic young leader involved in variety of programmes. He has been with K2C since 2013 when he started as an Environmental Monitor. He completed his National Diploma in Nature conservation with Tshwane University of Technology in 2010. He has gained skills and experience working in various kinds of jobs including zoo keeping, game capture, snake wrangling, Environmental Educator and international volunteer programme coordinator, to name a few. The different skills set was a perfect fit for the K2C Environmental Monitors (EMs) programme where he is currently the project manager. Vusi oversees the 5 EM managers, partnering with 31 different environmental projects and 74 communities in the K2C landscape. He is also currently working on a Human Wildlife Conflict project through WWF-Khetha to assist local communities in developing a communication & response protocol for the community leaders, aligned to the relevant provincial authorities. He is passionate about youth & community development where he represents the landscape and the country in other international programmes such as Man And Biosphere (MaB) International Youth Programme and Global Youth Biodiversity Network.
GIS, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Coordinator
Romy joined the K2C team in the beginning of 2019. She has an honours degree in Environment, Ecology & Conservation (WITS) and a Masters in Geography and Environmental Studies (WITS), where she conducted her research on the Makuleke Wetlands (Ramsar site) in the Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park. She has worked for many years in the environmental consulting industry and has a strong GIS and Remote Sensing background.
Romy joined the K2C as the stewardship ecologist for the SANBI GEF 5 Biodiversity Stewardship and Land Under better Management Project. Through a secondment to The Nature Conservancy, Romy currently supports work on formalising protected areas & other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs), monitoring and tracking environmental elements in the landscape and improving land management practices for improved biodiversity and water conservation in the K2C region. Romy is also the “go-to” person for all K2C’s branding, marketing & communication materials.
DWS Project Manager/EM Manager
Rešoketšwe ‘Shoki’ Mafogo, was born and bred in the Kruger to Canyons landscape and has been growing and learning as part of the K2C team since 2014.
With a BA Humanities degree, Shoki always finds the human factor in any circumstance. This, together with a special heart for development, has combined well in the role that she fills in the K2C team; as the Project Manager for the Dinkwenyana Water Smart Project, as well as the Environmental Monitors project. She works closely with Traditional Authorities (Bapedi ba Dinkwanye, Mametja and Bakone ba Sekororo), Municipalities (Maruleng, Mopani) and LEDET; and partners Hoedspruit Hub, Conservation South Africa and STEPS.
As a strong believer that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, Shoki is taking up space and cementing herself in youth oriented platforms such as MaB Youth Forum, GYBN and SAYBN.
“I believe in change, empowerment and development; these are factors I would like to stimulate in the work I do everyday.”
fRfR Project Coordinator
Cindy currently lives in the Hoedspruit area but was originally from the small town of Magaliesburg in Gauteng. She is formerly qualified in hospitality management with over 10 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. Her local knowledge, experience and expertise in hospitality made her the perfect candidate to close the gap between SMME’s and the tourism industry in the K2C region in her role as the from the Region for the Region (fRfR) Project Coordinator (https://fromtheregion.org).
Living Catchments Project Coordinator
Ms Itumeleng Selebalo holds an MSc in Environmental Sciences (Resource conservation biology) from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has an honors degree in geology (WITs), including an educational background in geography, environmental sciences, sustainable development, climate change adaptation, systems thinking and systems dynamics modelling. She was part of the young professional program (2017 to 2019) with The Association for Water and Rural Development where she assisted in the application of system dynamics modelling as a tool to help facilitate collective action towards climate change adaptation, nurturing biodiversity and enhancing water security in the Olifants Catchment. She published her Master research report titled “A systemic analysis of the environmental impacts of gold mining within the Blyde River Catchment, a strategic water area of South Africa” and received a prize for the best research project at the Systems Analysis in Africa Conference from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
In 2021 she joined the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere in support of the Land Use Incentive project by implementing the Fresh Water Heath Index analysis tool to determine priority areas for ecosystem restoration for water security and long-term restoration strategies in the Blyde River Catchment. She is currently the catchment project coordinator for the K2C, implementing the SANBI living catchment project by enabling collaboration, co-learning, and co-creation at the nexus of built and ecological infrastructure for water security in the Olifants River. She also supports the coordination and implementation of the UNESCO Be Resilient project and the catchment investment program in K2C landscape.
Itumeleng Desiree Morale
fRfR Assistant Coordinator
Itu comes from Welverdiend Village in the K2C. She has a BA in International Relations obtained from the University of Venda. She has years’ experience as coordinator, facilitator and administrator in different community orientated organisations and now assists the fRfR Project Coordinator in linking local producers and services providers to local markets, growing the circular green economy in the K2C region (www.fromtheregion.org).
Resilient Waters Project Manager
Dimakatso is the friendly ever smiling lady in the office and she has been part of the K2C team since 2013 as part of the EPWP Environmental Monitors program that is Implemented by BSP SANParks. She moved her way up into the office as an EM Manager in 2016. She has a National Diploma in Nature conservation and is busy pursuing her BTech Degree in the same field.
Dima currently forms part of the K2C team as the Project Manager for the Resilient Waters Project. She works closely with the Environmental Monitors, Restoration Teams, Traditional Authorities, CPAs, Traditional Healers and communities to help preserve and restore the environment back to its natural state and encourage the practice of sustainable harvesting of natural resources.
EM Data Manager & Capturer
Keneilwe is a young Earth Scientist who completed her Bachelor’s degree majoring in Geology and Geography (Environmental Studies) in 2016 at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently pursuing her Honors degree in Environmental Studies through the University of South Africa. To align work with studies, Keneilwe has been managing the K2C/KNP EIA database and is also responsible for the communication with the EAPs and assisting with commenting on EIA applications. Most of Keneilwe’s efforts are directed towards managing the K2C Environmental Monitor database which she created and has managed since late 2017. This programme is a DEA funded EPWP programme and Keneilwe offers data management and analysis skills to ensure better resource sharing and mitigation of environmental issues.
Assistant Data Capturer
Mpho is a woman of few words. She joined the K2C team in 2019 as an Environmental Monitor, and became an Assistant Data Capturer on the Environmental Monitors Programme a few months later. She holds an Honours degree in Environmental Sciences, Geography from Univen. She works closely with the K2C team and community based Environmental Monitors spread across the Biosphere, capturing all the environmental data they report on.
EM Manager/ Field Guard Assistant
Vulani is a social person who likes meeting new people, passionate about nature and Environmental Education.
Vulani joined the K2C team in 2016 when she started as an Environmental Monitor. She Studied Nature Conservation (SAWC) which focused on conservation, biodiversity management and the protection of species, maintaining and restoring habitats, enhancing ecosystems and protection of biological diversity. She worked closely with WESSA coordinating the school greening projects and supporting communities in public participation, caring for the earth, sustainable living and promoting recycling and eco-friendly products, to ensure a healthy environment for future generations.
Vulani currently forms part of the K2C team as a Field Guard Assistant through the SANParks Biodiversity and Social Projects (BSP)Programme. She works with the K2C Team managing EMs ( community based EMs and EMs who are assigned to work under host institutions)under the Environmental Monitors programme funded by DFFE. She works closely with communities, Taditional Authorities, Schools, SANParks, LEDET, NGOs, NPOs and other partners in the landscape to achieve a sustainable future for all.
Site Coordinator for the Dinkwanyane Water Smart Project
I am Roselina (Rose) is a tall lady, very peaceful, soft spoken lady from the small village of Phiring in the K2C. She is awaiting her National Diploma in engineering ( electrical and mechanical). She initiated her studies through Centurion College before moving on to Sekhukhune TVET College.
Rose joined the K2C team as the Site Coordinator for the Dinkwanyane Water Smart Project (DWS) based in the small village of Phiring in the Mpumalanga Escarpment. She works with 9 Ecosystem Custodians (ECs) where they focus on sustainable rangeland management, agroecology, fRfR (market access) as well as monitoring the rivers, croplands and livestock in the area. We are managed by a very talented team of leaders.
Hope Morema if from Acornhoek in the Bushbuckridge Municipality. She joined the K2C BR in 2016 as an Environmental Monitor working at Mariepskop State Forest which is one of the Host Institutions within the K2C. She obtained a qualification in Management from Boston City Campus and Business College and a Certificate in Environmental Monitors short course at SAWC.
Hope is now an Assistant Administrator at the K2C office where she focuses on the administration of the Environmental Monitors Programme being implemented in the Biosphere.
She was honoured to be a part of the Biodiversity Survey Research hosted by Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative, in the Kruger National Park and a reserve in Swaziland, which contributed to her career.