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Field Guiding in Africa
FGASA The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA), to which Bushwise is endorsed, was formally established in 1992, to set a standard for nature guiding practice. FGASA represents individual Tourist Guides, Nature Guides and Culture Guides, Trackers and organisations involved in offering professional guiding services to members of the public. FGASA is an accredited provider with the Tourism Hospitality and Sport, Education and Training Authority (THETA). FGASA aims to provide a culture of professional guiding based on a strong ethical well-informed, safety conscious approach to provide the visitor to the African bush and environs with a pleasant and memorable experience.
FGASA is fully committed to the development and implementation of the national qualifications promoting the development of all tourist guides, including previously disadvantaged individuals, as guides, trackers, trainers and assessors as part of the South African transformation process. For more information see www.fgasa.org.za.
A guide's hours are long but incredibly rewarding especially for those seeking a career close to nature in the great outdoors. While working alongside wildlife is of huge significance it should not be forgotten that a Field Guide's most important role is that of educator, guide and ambassador of Africa to tourists from all over the world. A Field Guide is expected to develop the following skills:
- Communication skills All the knowledge in the world is useless when communication skills are lacking.
- Knowledge and interpretive skills Clients rely on the Field Guide for information about the natural environment and general information about the country. The field guide must have a basic general knowledge about the country. The field guide must have sound knowledge of the particular area of operation with regard to history, geology, climate, vegetation and wildlife.
- Organisational skills The Field Guide needs good planning and organisational skills in order to run a successful safari.
- Orientation skills The Field Guide must have extensive knowledge of the area of operation and needs to develop the necessary skills with regard to map reading, orientation and navigation.
- Client handling The Field Guide should be helpful, friendly and sympathetic but also firm, assertive and in control at all times. "Difficult" clients should be handled firmly and should never be allowed to spoil the experience of others in the group.
- First Aid skills All Field Guides are required to have a valid, recognised First Aid certificate.
- Practical skills The Field Guide must have practical skills, be innovative and resourceful. A good working knowledge of vehicles, vehicle maintenance and repair is required. Field guides must also exhibit sound driving skills.