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My favourite wildlife sightings in the African bushveld

Throughout his time on the Bushwise Professional Field Guide course, Kieth Windy has had some incredible wildlife sightings.

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.

Studying at Bushwise’s Mahlahla campus has been a blessing because I have learned much more than I ever expected. It is mind blowing just how much information about nature we have learned, and the detail that is included with overall experience that the trainers provided. My mind has been opened to so many new facts about animals, plants and ecosystems. 

Bushwise students on a training session in a game viewer. It's all about the wildlife sightings!

It has been a wonderful experience, from day one when we received the greatest welcome into the bush. Meeting the students with different cultures and traditions was the best experience and biggest learning curve. The respect everyone gave to all the candidates was a blessing. The Bushwise trainers have enhanced the experience, they are kind and caring, and most of all helpful to all students, providing sufficient information and attention to help each student with what they need. 

Our days are filled with so many different activities, and there have been so many amazing highlights along the way. One of these highlights was an experience that I believe was a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sighting. It happened during my second time behind the game viewer wheel, when a spotted hyena – my personal favourite animal – popped out of the blue, making the whole group practice an emergency stop.

A favourite wildlife sighting is certainly the spotted hyena.

Another unforgettable moment was our group’s first elephant sighting of the course. After months of trying to track down an elephant to complete our big five sightings, the moment finally came. 

We had an elephant crossing that blew everyone’s mind. I felt this massive being approaching the car, at first I was a little apprehensive about the encounter, but then, with the help of our trainer interpreting the elephant’s behaviour, I realised that the elephant was gentle and meant no harm. I felt more relaxed as I realised it was just as curious as I was in that wonderful moment. As the elephant smelled the car, I was intrigued by her size and the way she moved so gracefully. It was an absolutely magical moment and I hope that she enjoyed it just as much as I did.

An elephant with beautiful tusks

One other sighting I am incredibly grateful for is the moment when we unexpectedly saw a baby leopard. We were not even on an official game drive that day, but rather going to practise our 4×4 training (another highlight of the course). Not even a minute past the entrance gate, a student shouted “Stop!”, and we all turned to see what he spotted. Sitting low in the grass, blended in perfectly with its surroundings, was a beautiful baby leopard. 

It was unbelievable how close it was and it was fascinating to observe its behaviour. Of course, that was the day everyone left their cameras at camp, but it was a wonderful opportunity to observe the animal and truly appreciate how lucky we are to be doing this.

 Learning about all the different species of animals, from the big mammals and reptiles to the smallest amphibians and arthropods – as well as the abundance of trees, grasses and wildflowers – has been an eye-opening experience. Seeing how they all contribute to the ecosystem has really helped me see how everything is connected and how important every little component is. 

Track and sign is an important part of understanding animals, and getting that perfect wildlife sighting.

One of my favourite things to learn was track and sign. Being able to read the different animal tracks, including the behaviour through tracks, was fantastic. Knowing and understanding how to track animals in their natural environment was the best skill I have gained overall.

I am glad to be one of the candidates that had this marvellous experience, and all the incredible wildlife sightings, with unlimited information. I am proud to say I am a Bushwise baby.  

Do you want to make life-long memories and see incredible wildlife sightings while earning a valuable FGASA qualification? Apply today to start your career journey with Bushwise. 

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