I’m a qualified Field Guide!
All the training that I’d received over the past two months had been leading up to a final assessment drive with real guests to look after. On the morning of my assessment I got up at 4.30am to prepare the Toyota land cruiser with snacks, hotboxes and blankets for the freezing cold morning. It was a slow morning for sightings as a dominant male lion had been reported in the area, which meant that most of the game had cleared out. So I decided to spend my drive tracking the lion and we were fortunate enough that after we had found him, he stayed walking along the main roads for most of the drive! The male was exhibiting some great behaviours for me to talk to my guests about, such as urine marking and scent tracking every few meters, so I had a great opportunity to conduct unique drive. After my assessment drive was finished I was given a post drive evaluation and told that I had passed!
It’s such a relief to have finished (and passed!) the course and I’m feeling happy to have gained this new qualification. The last few weeks seem to have flown by in a flash; before I knew it I was sitting at my graduation, getting handed my certificates and munching away on some of the local delicacies.
It already feels odd to have left the reserve and to be back in a city, not surrounded by trees and wildlife on a daily basis. I’m also missing the lectures that we had on this course as I have really loved learning about the bush. Learning and seeing something new every day was an opportunity like no other and I’m missing being a student (crazy I know!).
Shamwari Game Reserve has been an amazing experience and I’m really grateful to GMIH for helping me get onto this course and gain this great qualification. Thank you so much!
I just wanted to share my most memorable experience on this training course with you all! It occurred on one of my game drives when we came across an amazing lion kill by two sub adult lions. I say this was amazing because lions are known not to be the most ‘ethical’ killers. This kill in particular was an incredibly rare sight for being both quick and clean and we were lucky enough to have captured it on the video below:
and the view from our vehicle:
There’s so much that has happened since I last wrote on here, I don’t even know where to start. Each week has been full of interesting discoveries in the bush and learning about different animal behaviours. We’ve also had a lot of assessments, such as game drives, observational field tests, bird call tests and exams, so I’m sorry I’ve not had time to write on here sooner!
This week alone, I’ve been assessed on my skills guiding a drive around the reserve and had to deliver a presentation on the communication between elephants (did you know that they communicate using seismic vibrations and have a whole language that we are unable to hear?).
We’ve also seen some amazing sightings, yesterday being particularly lucky for animal viewings. On our daytime drive we came across a baby puff adder lying across the road, looking remarkably similar to a small branch. We also bumped into a group of five white rhinos all lined up in a row, casually munching away at the grass with a beautiful view of the fields in the background. This was a rare sighting for all of us as rhinos are usually quite solitary in the daytime or at most seen in pairs; with a mother and her calf. What else was incredible about this sighting was that just a few meters down the road we came across a rhino calf playing with a bull with the mother standing calmly watching on. Within the usual behaviours of rhinos, mothers usually become aggressive and defensive when bulls approach their calves and the calves themselves are usually frightened by the males rather than being playful with them, so this was quite an unusual sighting. As amazing as these sightings were, the night time drive brought even more incredible viewings. We stumbled across a genet hiding in the bushes, a brown hyena running in front of us and quite remarkably a hippo walking next to our car! Hippos are widely known as being one of the most dangerous animals in the wild and they are very rarely seen out of water as they purposely avoid humans, so this was a very exciting sighting for us!
So, there’s been a lot happening on the reserve and I have even more assessments and exams coming up in my final 3 weeks. Hopefully they’ll all go well :)
It’s lovely to join the GMIH team and to share about my experiences so far on my field guiding training course in South Africa. I hope I can do it justice!
I arrived here a week ago and have already learnt so much about the reserve and guiding guests around. On our first day, we were given a game drive around the reserve to get to know some of the wildlife and already from the second day (after taking 4×4 driving theory and practical exams) have been driving our own game drives! Our instructors have been working in the field for over a decade and it has been really interesting to observe and learn from their differing styles of guiding. I’ve especially been watching the good drivers to pick up some tips on how to improve my skills! As the week has progressed, we’ve started to build up on our observation and identification skills in the field. Even though I knew nothing about ID-ing wildlife such as birds and antelope before I came here, I’m now able to pick up on certain characteristics and identify species, which has been an exciting development for me. In between all of our observational game drives, we’ve been having lectures on astronomy, geology and animal behaviours, and studying in any free time around that. My most memorable moment so far was when we pulled up to have a coffee break on one of our game drives and had to make a quick dash back to the car when we heard warning growls from the bushes…a quick investigation later we found a pride of lions just around the corner!
I know this all must sound like a lot of studying, but we’ve also had a lot of fun in the evenings having braais around the fire and getting to know one another which has made it all a really enjoyable experience so far.