Nkosinathi Sibiya’s journey began in the rural village of Lillydale, 4km west of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. His life began under the weight of adversity as his mother grappled with severe illness during her pregnancy. Doubts loomed over her ability to bring him into the world. She named him Nkosinathi—a testament of gratitude for birthing her son against the odds, his name means ‘God is with us.’

Nkosinathi’s tracking career started when he spotted the Tracker Academy Land Rover parked at Newington gate of the Sabi Sands. He applied 8 times over a period of 4 years, and was eventually accepted onto a waiting list, having completed the online and field tests that Tracker Academy makes every applicant do.

In June 2022, fate smiled on Nkosinathi when one of the students at Samara left the course due to ill-health, allowing him an opportunity that he’d yearned for for many years. Without hesitation he borrowed money to travel to the Eastern Cape and joined the tracker training group a week later.

Initially he was very shy, but there was a steeliness to him that we had seldom seen. Nkosinathi openly indicated that he is a slow learner, which we interpreted as a sign of self-awareness and honesty – a crucial attitude for a professional tracker, which we work hard to develop among all our tracker students.

The monthly presentations were particularly challenging for Nkosinathi, but to compensate for this he dived into the practical tracking skills with all the energy that he could muster.

Nkosinathi’s journey with Tracker Academy was one of perseverance. He was born poor, but he possessed a wealth of resilience that will one day no doubt give him material wealth too.

At the final assessment, which is a thoroughly rigorous test of their practical tracking skills, Nkosinathi scored 100% for both the ‘Track and Sign’, ‘Trailing’ and Alarm calls components – recording a first ever result for a student in 14 years of the Academy’s history.

Alan Yeowart was the external evaluator in attendance, also acting as a peer reviewer for Tracker Academy, saying the following about Nkosinathi’s trailing assessment “it was a magnificent exposure of amazing skill”. This, an incredible feat considering Nkosinathi had never tracked a day in his life before attending Tracker Academy.

Never before have we had a perfect score for both components. Currently employed at Thornybush, Nkosinathi stands as a testament to resilience, earning the prestigious Hyena Award at the graduation on 1 December 2023—an accolade crowning his remarkable journey.

Tracker Academy wishes Nkosinathi everything of the best in his tracking career.

For more information on Tracker Academy, visit their website here.

Written by: Janetta Bock-Benadie (Tracker Academy)