This week saw an end to the fourth semester of our current course, and we can’t believe how quickly the months are ticking by! This week, by far, is one of the most stressful weeks of the course, as all our FGASA level 1 practical assessments took place. To keep it short, students are tasked to take us, the assessors and some ‘guests’, on a three hour game drive to show us that they are competent and able guides. Stress levels are high, because vehicles need to be prepared, hot boxes with drinks & snacks made up, and of course, a nearly flawless drive is required on an information and practical skills level. There was also some good news received this week….The FGASA exam results have been released, with an overall average of 90%, well done!
We started our week off on a high note, with two male lions interrupting our afternoon coffee break, and literally seconds later, stalking a herd of zebra right past our vehicles, and making a successful kill. Ethics here played an important role, as it was dark, we could not use a spotlight, otherwise either predator or prey might have an advantage, but listening to what was happening right in front of us, creates the picture in your imagination! A truly unbelievable and amazing sighting indeed! With huge smiles on everyone’s faces, it’s difficult to head back to reality, as this is still an assessment drive!
The week continued with some great sightings including African Wild Cat and plenty hyena, and on Wednesday morning came the proverbial “cherry on the cake”. Most people that come to the bush often, or even some of us working in it full time, still believe that there is an animal that is more rare to see than unicorns, yes that right, scarcer than unicorns! A pangolin was called in, unfortunately he had crawled into the reserve’s electric fence, and must have been stuck there for quite some time as he was unresponsive, and very dehydrated, but breathing! We had a few precious minutes to observe this amazing animal before he was on his way to a nearby animal orphanage. From there he was hydrated again and only two days later, released back onto the reserve, this time far away from any fences!
Now most of you might think that this was an amazing week’s worth of sightings, but the week was only half way done! On Friday saw a lot more in terms of animal behaviour. As we got to the entrance gate of the reserve, we noticed two male lions right next to the gate, and one on the opposite side of the road, making it clear that they are not going to budge on letting go of their territories! This is a behaviour that we have often witnessed in the past, but this time there was a lot more aggression involved, with the two young males (the same males mentioned earlier), often showing teeth, growling and even “mock charging” towards the fence. Eventually they moved away enough for us to pass through the gate, and enjoy our drive. Later that night, we ended up with a similar situation, but this time we were stuck on the reserve instead of outside, forced to watch these two males until they moved away again, it is indeed a tough life in here at Bushwise! Well done to all our students, you showed just how much you have grown as guides over the last few months – keep building on those skills!
With a very busy week behind us, everyone is off to a well needed and deserved off week, with many interesting adventures planned for the week, including the South Coast of Natal, the Western Cape and the Panorama Route. We look forward to final preparation for the trails guide exam when we get back, so expect a lot of walking, studying and more hard work!
Until next time,
Charles and the Bushwise team.