The Incredible Formen Mathebula

Formen has been in the Timbavati almost his entire life. Born in the adjacent Klaserie Reserve to parents who had lived and worked there their whole lives, this is where he calls home. The lay of the land, the sounds, smells and animals are all part of who he is and he understands this place almost like he understands himself.

Formen is a partner in the business of Tanda Tula with Don and Nina Scott. They had worked together previously and realised the passion, empathy and understanding that this man possessed for the Timbavati. Don and Nina knew that whatever it was they were going to do next, Formen was going to be part of it. In 2009 they did just that and Formen joined the Tanda Tula team.

Amazingly, Formen has had two lucky escapes from elephants. A couple of years ago he managed to help save a fellow guide who had an encounter with a large elephant, little did he know his turn would come next. Then, just over a year ago, Formen was involved in a nasty elephant encounter of his own. He was incredibly lucky and survived to tell the story and reflect upon the fact that no matter how well you know your environment and the animals, there is always the unexpected. After a long period of recovery, Formen returned to Tanda Tula in more of a managerial role. Initially, he was still wary of the giant beasts and the memories kept coming back, but by speaking to people and retelling his story he has managed to move through this and now he feels at home again.

His time in the office has allowed him to be part of the bigger Tanda Tula system and he says it has been a wonderful time of learning and teaching. Now he is starting to guide again and is thrilled about it, he really missed being out in the bush and on safari with guests. In his own wise words: “Life is full of surprises, but it is all about dealing with those unforeseen things and how you move forward”.


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