Meet the SanWild Team

Didi Schoeman

Chairman and Managing Director

Meet Didi Schoeman, Chairman and Managing Director of SanWild Sanctuary and Wildlife Trust. Didi is an accomplished filmmaker and conservationist who has dedicated his life to the protection and preservation of endangered species and their natural habitats. With over 23 years of experience in filming wildlife documentaries in game reserves and wilderness areas throughout Africa, Didi has developed a unique skill set that has proven invaluable in managing and leading wildlife conservation initiatives.

Didi holds an MBA from ISB (Indian School of Business) and an N.Dip in Film and Video Technology from the Tshwane University of Technology. His expertise in cinematography and passion for conservation have facilitated the capturing of wildlife documentaries, resulting in documentaries showcased on top-tier international nature television channels around the world.

In April 2020, Didi rejoined the board of trustees of the SanWild Wildlife Trust as Chairman and took over the reins of the sanctuary as its Managing Director. He promptly appointed a new management team on the ground, restructured the organization, and implemented sustainable tourism and conservation practices that benefit both wildlife and local communities in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

Under his leadership, Didi successfully turned around the failing non-profit organization. He also initiated new rescue and rehabilitation projects for cheetahs, lions, and elephants, leading to the implementation of various programs aimed at protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats.

With a passion for animals and a deep commitment to conservation, Didi is a valuable asset not only to SanWild but to the conservation community, working tirelessly to preserve our planet’s biodiversity.

Johan Schoeman Sr

Trustee and Director of Conservation

Meet Johan Schoeman Sr., a dedicated wildlife philanthropist, successful businessman, and valued trustee of the SanWild Wildlife Trust. As the Director of Conservation of SanWild Sanctuary, Johan brings decades of experience in running wildlife projects to the table.

Johan’s love for nature and wildlife was instilled in him from an early age, having been raised on a farm in Tzaneen. As a young boy he often rescued injured and orphaned animals and raised them, passing on this passion to his family. In fact, the Schoeman family was known for their love for animals, and their home became a sanctuary for orphaned animals, including lions.

In 1974, after serving as captain in the South African airforce, Johan founded Letaba Airways, a regional airline that connected Tzaneen with Johannesburg International Airport. Two years later, he founded a successful saw-milling and forestry operation that he still manages on a daily basis today.

In 1990, Johan purchased a 2000-hectare game farm called Lekkersmaak, where he constructed a 200-hectare lion sanctuary for his rescued lions. His experience and advice have been invaluable to SanWild’s team, helping to turn the sanctuary around and build it back up to what it is today.

Johan’s passion for wildlife and nature has been passed down to his children, with his son Didi Schoeman becoming a passionate conservationist and chairman of SanWild Wildlife Trust.

Lukas Geldenhuys

Sanctuary Manager

Introducing Lukas Geldenhuys, the passionate and dedicated Sanctuary Manager of SanWild!

Along with his lovely wife Elzanne, Lukas joined our team in October 2020 and has been an integral part of our conservation efforts ever since. With over 14 years of experience in game farm and sanctuary management, Lukas is the go-to person for all matters related to the day-to-day operations of the sanctuary.

As the manager, Lukas is responsible for the welfare of all our animals and ensures they are well-taken care of. He also leads the security and counter-poaching operations on the sanctuary to protect our precious wildlife. And when he’s not busy managing the sanctuary, Lukas loves to show off his guitar-playing skills, making evenings around the campfire unforgettable! (Not really… we have to twist his arm to get him to play, but trust us when we say he’s really good!)

Raised on a game farm with a commercial game lodge that catered to guests, Lukas has a natural affinity for the wildlife he works with. He is a qualified PH and licensed to carry a rifle to ensure the safety of our guests on game drives and bush walks.

Lukas’s commitment to the conservation of endangered species and their natural habitats is evident in his work at SanWild. His expertise in game farm and sanctuary management, combined with his passion for wildlife, makes him an invaluable member of our team.

We’re lucky to have him onboard, working towards the preservation of our planet’s biodiversity.

Lizel Kachelhoffer

Trustee and Marketing Director

Meet Lizel Kachelhoffer, the Marketing Director of SanWild Sanctuary and a devoted conservationist.

As the daughter of the late founder, Louise Joubert, Lizel’s passion for wildlife conservation runs deep in her blood. Since August 2009, she has been a Trustee of SanWild Wildlife Trust and is the longest-serving trustee on SanWild’s board.

Lizel’s creative talents and marketing skills have played a vital role in the success of SanWild. As a website designer and marketer, she manages her own creative web design company and is responsible for designing and maintaining the trust’s website and social media platforms.

Lizel also handles marketing, client liaising, reservations, invoicing, and administration of SanWild’s Tented Lodge on the Sanctuary.

When she’s not working on SanWild projects, Lizel enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter in Cape Town, where she’s based. As a typical mom, she’s often playing taxi driver, which anyone with teenage kids knows all too well!

Lizel’s commitment to the preservation of endangered species and their natural habitats is unwavering. Her creative talents and expertise in marketing and web design make her an invaluable member of the SanWild team.

Madeleine Engelbrecht

Office & Accounts Manager

Meet Madeleine Engelbrecht, the highly skilled secretary of SanWild Wildlife Trust, responsible for ensuring the proper documentation and permits are in place to comply with the regulatory requirements of the Department of Nature Conservation.

Madeleine is the key liaison between the sanctuary and the government and plays a crucial role in maintaining compliance with all relevant permits, licenses and regulations.

In addition to her duties as a liaison, Madeleine manages the accounts department and is responsible for all payments and accounting.

With years of experience in the industry, she has developed a keen eye for detail, ensuring that all accounts are accurate and up to date.

Growing up on a game farm on the banks of the Limpopo river between the big five, Madeleine developed a deep love for wildlife and a passion for conservation. From an early age, she accompanied her father on game captures and translocations, and grew up in a family whose lives revolved around wildlife and cattle ranching.

Madeleine’s contributions to SanWild are invaluable. Her meticulous attention to detail ensures that all of SanWild’s permits and accounts are in order, providing a solid foundation for the smooth running of the sanctuary.

Rebecca Mohaleamalla

Animal Caretaker

Say hi to Rebecca Mohaleamalla, our dedicated rehabilitation centres’ animal caretaker.

Rebecca has been with SanWild from the very beginning. She has more than 23 years of experience looking after orphaned and injured animals. Rebecca used to be SanWild’s founder, Louise Joubert, right hand working in the rehabilitation centre and has an enormous wealth of experience when it comes to knowing what exactly each rescued animal’s food requirements are when they come into the centre. Simply said, she is the mother to all our orphans, and we love her for it!

Rebecca comes from Modjadji, a world-renowned village about 70 km from SanWild. It is the home of the mythical rain queen Modjadji that tribes from all over Africa used to pay homage to over the centuries to secure good rains in their lands. Modjadji is also home to the highly endangered and prehistoric Modjadji cycad forests, which should be on everyone’s bucket list when visiting the area.

Rebecca is a crucial member of our SanWild team. We are fortunate to have her with us in the sanctuary, looking after our animals in the rehabilitation centre.