Hello again from all of us at Bushwise field guides. It only feels like 7 days since we last spoke, oh wait it was only 7 days ago and yet another week has come and gone. With our weeks being so busy it just seems to go by way too quickly! Surely it’s because we are having such an awesome time. After last week, one would think it hard that anything could top or even equal the experiences, but that is exactly what makes the bush and the guiding profession so amazing. Every day is a new day with new excitement; you just need to be out there to experience it.
Monday started with early morning game drives and while some groups had elephant sightings, another was unexpectedly caught on the northern side of the Selati river with the water level suddenly rising about a meter and a half within a matter of 2hours due to heavy down pours in the mountains. Fortunately there was another exit gate for them otherwise they would probably still have been on the reserve. We also finished up the theoretical component of the course with lectures on conservation, history & culture and fish.
Along with the drives (think a herd of elephants swimming, cheetah climbing trees, two caracal casually walking down the road, lions, hyena and much more!) and lectures, we also spent time on rifle dry runs, as has been the case over the last few weeks. This is going through the exercises that our students will be assessed on in the coming week for the Advanced Rifle Handling qualification but with “dummy” ammunition. Tuesday we threw in a night drive which meant we left campus after sunset and got back around 10pm. The main purpose of such a drive is to try and find some of the very elusive nocturnal animals such as aardvark, pangolin, honey badger, porcupine and so forth. Although none of these were seen, there were a few awesome sightings such as lion, cheetah, leopard, ellies, hyena, owls, small and large spotted genets, African civet and one group totalled 22 chameleons during their drive.
All in a day’s work!
Thursday morning we did a bit of practical shooting with live ammunition starting with a small .22 calibre and moving up to the .375 calibre, the minimum requirement in our profession. The main aim of the morning was…well, aiming. Is the rifle shouldered correctly? Are my sights aligned? Am I hitting the target where I aim? And most importantly, am I breathing? Yes even involuntary responses are forgotten when nerves get the better of us.
Everyone did very well and we will have to see what the assessments hold in store next week. Like most weeks this one was ended with a guided walk and whilst one group had a relatively quiet walk, sightings wise, the other encountered a herd of elephants on foot. But the bush is always full of surprises and the less fortunate group ended up having a glimpse of a leopard and an elephant bull on their way back to the reserve gate. On such a positive note I have come to the end of this week’s blog. Who knows what’s in store for us in the week coming! I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Until next time
Conraad and the Bushwise team
Banner photo and Cheetah photo: Nick Newman
Genet Photo: Stefanie Simonet
ARH Practice photo: Hamish Mitchell