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    The last few weeks of May, was a busy time. Fgasa exam time was on the horizon. After 18 weeks of intense study of the 17 modules that compose the FGASA level 1 course, now known as Field Guide NQF2, today is the big day. At 8.00 am Head trainer Ben delivers the theory test that proves if we retained the knowledge learned over the last few months!

    This assessment questionnaire is composed of different chapters, one for each of the module for a total of 150 points, to be successful a pass mark of 75% has to be achieved.

    By the afternoon we had the preliminary results and it looked like all had passed the course and we all met for a improvised party to celebrate.

    The next day we had to wake up before sun rise because today we begin with trail training, how to walk in a wild area and eventually how to approach dangerous animals.

    A quick review of the main golden rules:
    – Never run in presence of dangerous animals
    – Walk in single file
    – never talk but communicate with hand signals
    – Walk always behind the rifles
    – Always obey the order of the lead guide, even if they contradict with the other rules.
    Now we are ready to leave….

    We crossed the river and followed a game path until we heard the call of a red billed oxpecker, instantly the group froze. This bird is often around large mammals eating the ticks of their skin and can alert the approach of animals. Luckily it was a false alarm, an impala herd and so we continued with our trail.

    The next day we had the ARH reassessments for six of us that failed the first attempt. After a few hours of shooting, three students passed. This test really is the most difficult of the course, so be prepared. The other three students will have to try again, after the week off.

    Just before the last off week we headed on game drive. We found lion tracks and started tracking them for all the northern side of the Pidwa reserve. Unfortunately, we did not find them. We knew we were very close, the foot prints were fresh, but at five pm, there was not enough light so we had to call it a day. Not long after that, after few hundreds meters of walking we find a pride of lions lying under a bush. We retreat a bit and one of the young males comes closer, curious, but loses interest quite soon and falls asleep again.

    Another Semester down, and when we get back from off week we focus on Back up Trails theory!

    Blog by Eugenio Guasina