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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Student

Field guide training with the best of the best

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Bushwise student Tasia Simons shares her experiences during Bushwise field guide training, learning from experts in the industry.

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

A brief introduction about myself. My name is Tasia and I’m 23 years old. I’ve always had a passion for wildlife and knew from a young age I wanted to work in and with nature. Being a little introverted, I thought being a field guide would be too difficult but I forced myself out of my comfort zone. Soon I realised how much I love working with people and getting to tell stories about South Africa’s incredible wildlife.

I was nervous to join Bushwise but heard only positive stories about them and so I took a leap of faith and signed up. Upon arrival, I immediately relaxed, the trainers were warm and welcoming, and I felt at home straight away.

Learning about wildlife on a field guide training course

Finally it’s my turn to be camp manager and get a taste of what it’s like to “run” things for a week. During my week as camp manager, I got to experience doing track and sign with my group which included meeting the k9 unit and watching them work. We also got to learn about responsible resource use, and the amazing work that’s being done to give back to the community and sustain our land for future use.

Let’s jump into track and sign this week. When you’re in field guide training you soon hear stories about the best of the best in this industry. Colin Patrick was one of those names that came up often. He led our track and sign course, which was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

In the beginning of the week Colin told us to trust him, which I really wanted to do, but could I possibly learn so many tracks and signs in just one week? I decided that if I really put my heart into it and worked hard, then I could get a level (you can earn level one, two or three in the assessment). From Monday to Wednesday we spent hours every day staring at the floor so on Thursday we had a little bit of a break and went to meet the K9 unit.

One of the K9 anti-poaching unit dogs looking like a happy camper!

Running through the bush trailing someone’s scent with a Belgian malinois tugging on the lead is an experience I will never forget. Putting all your trust in a dog and letting it do its work was incredible. There’s so many hours of training these dogs go through, but this is what they live for, they absolutely love it. The excitement the dog gets from finding someone at the end of the trail and making their handler proud really gives you goosebumps. We then got to see the dog track down a 1.2km scent trail, they did that in two minutes and eight seconds!

We spent a few hours with the K9 unit and I’m sure we’ll all be talking about our experience for a long time. For me personally, I realised how much I admire what these dogs do for us and our wildlife conservation. We enjoyed our break from tracking but the following day was the test and we were all worried whether we would get a level or not. I went in with the mentality to have fun and I was already proud with how much I had learnt throughout the week.

At the end of the day, all our hard work had paid off and we all walked away with a Cybertracker track and sign level.

Bushwise students learn so much on their field guide training course

The following week we started with responsible resource use. As field guide training students we were all excited to learn how we could help towards the preservation of our land and resources and one day be able to share this knowledge with our future guests. We went to locally owned cafes and we met farmers who are helping in their own way to give back to the communities and create job opportunities as well as using the land responsibly.

It was a great learning experience being camp manager for the week and I’m so glad Bushwise came up with so many ways to keep us learning. It’s nearly time for the semester to end now and, although we all look forward to the short break, we also can’t wait to get back and learn more!

Do you want to train with the best of the best? Apply now and soon you could be part of this incredible field guide training experience!




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