Adam Riley is the co-founder of Rockjumper Birding Tours. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and his keen business sense, customer care and attention to detail has been a major factor in making Rockjumper one of the world’s premier bird tour companies. Adam spends much of his time overseeing Rockjumper’s operations, and the remainder of his time guiding or scouting new destinations for future tours.
Alison Wakelin has a passion for conservation, wildlife and the outdoors, spending as much time as she can in the African bush. It is thus no surprise that after a few years spent in the corporate world that she found herself at Rockjumper. Alison is extremely talented in handling the complex logistics of running diverse tours to a mind-boggling number of destinations. A keen eye for detail and her commitment for service excellence; Alison has built a great relationship with our clients over many years. Having won high praise for her handling of the busy pre-tour support and communications role, Alison has now applied her years of experience to assisting Cuan Rush in managing our growing Private Tours department.
Anthea Pillay grew up in Pietermaritzburg and has developed a keen interest in wildlife and travel since joining Rockjumper. Anthea plays a key role in our busy financial department including a big part of the companies bookkeeping functions. When not squaring away the numbers, Anthea enjoys living on the edge, engaging in a spot of bungie jumping or sky diving.
Brad Roberts spent most of his career as a graphic designer for advertising agencies and corporates before taking on the role of Corporate Imaging for Rockjumper. Brad has accumulated a wealth of computer knowledge, and in addition to being involved with the visual aspects of Rockjumper’s marketing material, he also plays a key role in managing our IT. Conscientious and with an understated sense of humour, Brad is always willing to help out in any way he can!
Candice Jack was born in Pietermaritzburg and has lived here most of her life. After completing her studies in Hotel Management, Candice moved to the United Kingdom to further her adventurous travel spirit. Having travelled widely, she returned home and has spent the last 10 years working as a travel consultant. Candice is based at our head office where she runs our travel department.
Clayton Burne is the Operations Manager of Rockjumper Birding Tours. Raised in the city of Durban, he spent 5 years in the African bush working as a field guide before emigrating to the United Kingdom. After spending almost a decade in the private medical sector, Clayton decamped to South America and embarked on a year-long cycling and birding journey across the continent. Having no sooner reached the Caribbean coast, he flew back to South Africa to start work as a tour leader for Rockjumper. Mostly office bound now, the big year lists are a thing of the past for the time being.
Crystal Brook was born and raised in Johannesburg and has long nurtured a passion for nature. Her childhood years were enlightened with countless encounters of the natural world, including close interaction with Lion cubs and shadowing shark researchers on the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal! Crystal will be the first member of our team that you communicate with when booking a tour. You can rest assured that she will handle your booking inquiry in a friendly and efficient manner. When she takes a break from making the tour of your dreams a reality, she can occasionally be found cage diving with Great White Sharks!
Cuan Rush earned a conservation diploma before launching his career in bird related work as curator of birds at Umgeni Bird Park in Durban. He then spent several years developing birding multimedia products and has also worked as a lodge manager and guide in Zambia. Cuan divides his time between heading Rockjumper’s custom tour department and leading tours throughout Africa and Asia.
George Armistead, a birder since 9, now has 20 years of experience as a professional guide – having led trips to all seven continents. His involvement with the American Birding Association included managing their events program, serving on their Recording Standards and Ethics Committee, and instructing at ABA young birder camps. He is also the author of two books – Better Birding: Tips, Tools, and Concepts for the Field (2015, Princeton University Press) and The ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Pennsylvania (2016, Scott & Nix, Inc.) – and received his Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania. As Rockjumper’s new Chief Network Officer, he will focus on partnerships and promotions, while continuing to guide a tour every so often. He will also represent Rockjumper at key events in the USA and elsewhere, and will assist in our efforts to expand the company’s impact in bird and wildlife conservation.
Jeremy Exelby has worked in education, industry, and travel over the years, with the natural world always being an inspiration to him. In particular, plants became his first passion when he was a teen, with birds catching up to his interest levels over the years. As a result, Jeremy has lead birding tours all over Southern Africa, occasionally also doing trips on his own or with family. At present, he also has a friendly competition going with his wife and son for who can see the most Southern African birds in 2016.
Keith Valentine is the Managing Director of Rockjumper Birding Tours. Before joining Rockjumper he completed a degree in Financial Management. While Keith still guides a few tours a year, the majority of his time is focused on the office and day to day running of the company.
Megan Taylor hails from Pietermaritzburg. Having spent a number of years at an accounting firm, Megan plays an important role in our busy financial department while also taking charge of the company’s HR. Introduced to birding by tour leader Clayton Burne, Megan now spends most of her free time chasing down lifers across southern Africa.
Michelle Wells fell in love with the UK after spending her teens in London. Michelle came back to South Africa to obtain her diploma in Travel & Tourism before returning to the UK working in tour operations and travelling extensively. Michelle is now based at our head office where her wealth of experience proves invaluable in her role of running our busy South African tour logistics and operations.
Niki Stuart is the Financial Director of Rockjumper Birding Ltd Mauritius. Niki has a degree in Financial Information Systems and is a qualified CIMA member (ACMA) and Charted Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Originally from Cape Town and Johannesburg, she now lives in Mauritius. Niki has a great love for wildlife, nature and strategic management accounting helping to drive the decisions critical to creating and sustaining organisational value.
Nisha Devdhat is from the KZN Midlands and made her way into the Travel industry after completing a BCom degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Considering her fascination with foreign cultures and love for adventure, it was only natural that she decided to pursue a career in Travel and Tourism. Nisha has travelled to a number of countries, and still has many more places to tick off her bucket list. Nisha is our Travel Consultant and focuses her attention on flight and travel arrangement for our scheduled tours. Her other interests include literature, photography and the arts.
Noluthando Ndlovu, or Thando as she is affectionately known in the office, grew up in the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal midlands town of Nottingham Road. She is one of our newest Rockjumper recruits, handling a number of our office administrative tasks. Thando is presently studying for a degree in Education, whilst already putting her studies to good use teaching adult literacy when she has time.
Patrick Meyer was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, the current headquarters of the Rockjumper family. He spent most of his career working in the digital marketing field, experience that makes him perfectly suited to take over the management of our marketing department. Patrick is primarily responsible for creating and implementing Rockjumper’s marketing initiatives. When he is not going through marketing statistics and strategy, he can be found outdoors; running, playing the drums, or on the sports field.
Praniel Dhanesar spent all of his informative years in Pietermaritzburg; life’s lessons and marriage resulted in him making a home in the far more scenic Midlands Meander, the heart of KwaZulu-Natal. A qualified Professional Accountant (SA), Praniel joined the Rockjumper team after spending almost 17 years in a professional accounting practice, rolling up his sleeves and getting more involved in the day-to-day financial and administrative affairs in a challenging corporate environment.
Ric Zarwell has been fascinated by birds and wildlife since growing up beside the biologically-rich Mississippi River and hardwood forests in the upper Midwest of the United States. He has an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology and a graduate degree in natural resources from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Ric assists Rockjumper with our marketing and operations in the US with cheerful and client-first professionalism.
Sarah Dell was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg. Before joining Rockjumper, Sarah obtained an Honours Degree in Accounting, completed her articles, and then worked in Eskom’s Revenue Recovery department. Sarah has always had a passion for nature and the outdoors – be it plants, animals or birds and enjoys gardening, sewing, cooking and reading in her spare time. Sarah’s attention to detail has seen her involved in multiple roles at Rockjumper, including pre and post-tour support, while also planning and executing our large and logistically complex ABA tours.
Shaun Auge, born in Mpumalanga, South Africa, spent his formative years in Swaziland, where he spent a large portion of his time outside. This lifestyle fostered a great appreciation for nature, which was only supplemented by constant weekend trips to the nearby, world-famous Kruger National Park. At the age of six, his family moved to the rolling green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, where he still lives today. In 2016, he worked part-time in our marketing department while he finished his Bachelor of Commerce Degree with electives in Marketing and Business Management, and has contributed in a significant way with a hardworking attitude and skilful copywriting abilities. Shaun has now taken up a full-time position as Rockjumper’s editor – his love of language and literature being of great use in this position. Shaun also has interests in film-making, music and photography.
Sue Anderson was born and educated in Zimbabwe. Her love for travel began in Harare while working as a radio operator for an international airline. Sue crossed the border and moved to South Africa in 1981 where she worked at a private game reserve, before settling in for a rewarding career with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Birdlife South Africa furthering Sue’s love for conservation. Several years at the Oribi Gorge Hutted Camp on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast sparked her interest in birding, and in 2009 she joined Rockjumper. Sue now plays a critical role in our Operations department keeping on top of all our scheduled tour planning and logistics.