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    Nature Enthusiast FGASA Online Course

    Become an African nature and wildlife expert. Attend expert-led masterclasses, learn through engaging discussions and earn a certificate from the top-rated provider of field guide qualifications.

    Have a love for African nature and wildlife? Want to become an authority on the subject? Learn from the best. Bushwise is a top-rated provider of Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) qualifications due to our quality learning experiences. 

    Unlike similar FGASA courses that require learners to study the material by themselves, we offer a highly supportive, interactive learning experience featuring expert instructors and lots of opportunities for participant engagement and practical application. 

    Join the Bushwise Nature Enthusiast FGASA Online Course to attend live lectures delivered by leaders in their field who have over 50 years of combined experience. These include directors of conservation organisations, managers of wildlife reserves and experienced field guides. See the African wild through their eyes, informed by in-depth knowledge developed over many years. Listen to their stories and learn from their successes and missteps. Ask them questions and receive personal feedback.

    You’ll be joined in these classes by others from around the world who are just as passionate as you are about African nature and wildlife and are on the same learning journey. With them, discuss real-world case studies that put the theory you’re learning into context. Complete regular quizzes so that you can see your growing expertise, and assignments to apply your acquired knowledge to things you might see and experience while in wild African spaces. 

    You’ll complete the first 16 official FGASA modules. Topics covered include African mammals, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish. You’ll also learn about African ecosystems, geology, climate and even astronomy. 

    But, like all Bushwise courses, we cover so much more than the basics. By attending our masterclasses, you’ll gain specific insight into elephant, pangolin and vulture conservation. You’ll also learn about how anti-poaching initiatives are run and about innovative conservation strategies.

    This course is designed for anyone from students, new graduates or career changers who are looking to start a career in African wildlife to working professionals or retirees interested in citizen science projects. 

    If you’re interested in starting a professional field guiding career, this course is your first step. The study materials and registration fees for the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide NQF2, formerly known as Level 1, qualification exam are included in this course. If you’d like to continue your journey, complete the Bushwise FGASA Field Guiding online course. Then join us on campus to complete the practical portion required to earn your FGASA NQF4, formerly known as FGASA Level 2. Over 90% of those who complete their FGASA NQF4 with us get a job upon graduation.

    Course details

    Duration: 6 weeks
    Effort: 7-10 hours per week
    Learning style: self-paced
    Age: 16 – 99 (We welcome individuals of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels)
    Language: English

    What you’ll learn

    On completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

    • Identify different African species and ecosystems 
    • Identify, read and understand African animal tracks
    • Explain different types of African animal behaviour 
    • Identify African bird species by song and appearance.

    Course details


    The course is made up of 16 official FGASA modules. The aims of each module are listed below.

    Week 1: 

    Geology

      • You will know and understand the meaning of geology, be able to provide explanations for the types of plant life and associated animal life that occurs in an area based on soil and rock types.

    Weather and climate 

      • You will be able to describe the influences on the Southern Africa climate and explain weather conditions that apply to the area where you are guiding.

    Week 2: 

    Astronomy

      • You will know and understand the main interesting features of the night sky, season by season and how to include this in enhancing your clients’ experience.

    Ecology

      • You will know and understand how the various components fit into the larger ecosystems and understand its importance in guiding.

    Biomes

      • You will know and understand how the dynamics of a particular area interact and the role of each element in the functioning of that area.

    Week 3: 

    Taxonomy

      • You will know and understand how the structures of taxonomy interrelate with the plants and animals in an area.

    Botany – Plants, trees and grasses

      • You will know and understand basic botany related topics such as plant processes, be able to identify various plants and learn interesting facts related to traditional beliefs associated with specific species.

    Week 4: 

    Arthropods

      • You will know and understand how to identify arthropods at a basic level, as well as be able to provide basic information that relates to interesting facts in respect of amongst other things, feeding habits and behaviour. 

    Fish

      • You will know and understand how to identify common species of fish as well as the ecological importance of fish.

    Amphibians

      • You will know and understand how to identify common species of frogs and toads, be able to identify them by means of their calls as well as understanding their ecological role.

    Week 5: 

    Reptiles

      • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.

    Birds

      • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.

    Mammals

      • You will know and understand how to identify the different species based on their features, interesting facts relating to survival strategies and reproduction in the various different species.

    Week 6: 

    Ethology

      • You will know and understand animal behaviour as individuals, but also group behaviour. You will be able to explain different communication methods, territories and interpret the signs and sounds of animals.

    Conservation management

      • You will know and understand what conservation practices are used in the natural environment and why these are carried out.

    Historical human habitation

      • You will know and understand interesting facts about early human history, and the distribution of traditional southern African cultures.

    Course structure


    The Nature Enthusiast FGASA online course is 6 weeks long and is made up of 60 hours of learning. Students typically spend 10 hours per week completing the material required to gain the certificate. The course comprises 16 official FGASA modules, each delivered by one of our experienced trainers in South Africa. 

    Each week is made up of live webinars which help to ensure that you are on track, and allow you to engage in question and answer sessions with the Bushwise trainers and instructors. Each module will end in a compulsory assignment.

    Expert masterclasses and live lectures

    This course includes access to leading experts in the field through a series of guest lectures. Each of these live webinars will give you the opportunity to interact with industry professionals, ask questions, plan your career in the safari industry, or grow your knowledge about the biodiversity in Southern Africa. 

    These guest lectures will take place once a week throughout your 6-week course, and will cover topics such as the below:

    • Co-founder and principal researcher – Elephant conservation and research in South Africa
    • Wildlife Director for Humane Society, Africa – Contraception as a management tool
    • Director – Anti Poaching and response to wildlife
    • Executive Director – Pangolin conservation 
    • Warden – Reserve management, Limpopo South Africa
    • Director – Sustainable utilisation as conservation tool 
    • Director and founder – Snake handling and conservation
    • Project coordinator – Vulture conservation and research 
    • Field guide and trainer – Introduction to South Africa’s insects andArachids
    • Field guide and trainer – Intro to South Africa’s biodiversity, birding and bird photography
    • Field guide and trainer – Poaching in South Africa 
    • Field guide and trainer – Early African tribal folklore and their meaning
    • Field guide and trainer – Walking field guides, trailing and following animals
    • Field guide – Reptile identification

    The learning experience

    You will engage in this course through a variety of mediums and platforms. 

    Lectures: All lectures are compiled by subject matter experts with over 50 years of combined experience in the field. 

    Readings: Recommended readings are provided to encourage you to delve deeper into each topic. 

    Quizzes: Each lecture begins with a short 5-10 question quiz from the required readings.

    Assignments: Each module has an assignment based on the FGASA workbook manual. The assignments will also be discussed in the weekly webinars. 

    Discussions: Bushwise encourages discussions on the student forums. Share your thoughts, receive answers to your questions and get to know the fellow students. 

    Live classes: Live webinars are held weekly to discuss that week’s module and assignment. 

    Student support: A dedicated student support manager will also be on hand to answer any questions regarding technical support.

    What’s included


    Included

    • The Bushwise Nature Enthusiast FGASA certification
    • Apprentice Field Guide NQF2 knowledge
    • Field Guide NQF4 knowledge
    • Academic support via live webinars
    • A wide variety of learning materials
    • The Nature Guide Learner Manual – Grant & Gillie Hine
    • The Guiding Skills Manual – Grant Hine
    • The FGASA Field Guide (NQF2) Study Guide & Learner Workbook
    • Participant support including a dedicated student support manager who will respond to technical and administrative queries within 48 hours

    Excluded

    • Internet access
    • Device (laptop) and headset
    • Additional supplementary recommended reading material

    Dates and costs


    South African Citizens
    2020Online R7,500.00 (incl VAT)
    2020Start dates 8 July, 21 September
    2021Online R8,250.00 (incl VAT)
    2021Start dates 11 January, 22 March, 31 May, 9 August, 18 October

     

    International Citizens
    2020OnlineGBP £550.00 / USD $750.00 / EUR €700.00 / AUD $1,050.00 
    2020Start dates 8 July, 21 September
    2021OnlineGBP £600.00 / USD $850.00 / EUR €750.00 / AUD $1,150.00
    2021Start dates11 January, 22 March, 31 May, 9 August, 18 October

    Payment Plan

    A payment plan may be arranged. Terms & Conditions apply. Please email [email protected] for more information. Bushwise is recognised by most major South African banks including FNB and Standard Bank. South African citizens can apply for student loans to assist with the payment of course fees.

    Instructors


    Our expert instructors have backgrounds in both conservation and the tourism industry. They will teach you solid fundamentals and how to apply your knowledge practically in the industry.

     

    Trevor Myburgh
    General Manager & Trainer

    Trevor is a trainer at the Mahlahla campus and has been in the lodge and guiding industry for seven years. He has held various positions including lodge management, leopard research, capture and relocation, wildlife rehabilitation, overland guiding and guiding in Big 5 reserves in various parts of South Africa.

     

     

     

    Vaughan Jessnitz
    Senior Trainer

    Vaughan has been part of the tourism industry for the last 10 years, guiding and managing camps throughout South Africa, specifically in the Greater Kruger National Park. Throughout his career, he has been involved in various conservation and research projects specialising in entomology and biodiversity mapping throughout South Africa. He has been working at Bushwise for the last four years. 

     

     

    Edward Smith
    Trainer

    Edward is currently the youngest trainer at Bushwise and has been part of the Conservation and Tourism industry since he left school back in 2010. At the age of 19, he qualified as both a field and marine guide but decided to kickstart his field guiding career by taking an opportunity at one of South Africa’s oldest private game reserves, Bonamanzi Private Game Reserve in Hluhluwe, KZN.

     

     

     

    Jack Hutchinson
    Trainer

    Jack was a Bushwise student back in 2009. He has been guiding for the last 11 years in 5-star lodges such as Imbali Safari lodge, Lion Sands and Thornybush in South Africa. He has been working at Bushwise since January 2020. He is currently training to become a FGASA assessor and mentor for trail guides.

     

     

     

    Lindi Hutchinson
    Trainer

    Lindi finished her apprentice trails guide training in 2011. In November 2013, she started her guiding career at Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg, South Africa. She has worked in numerous different reserves and biomes and is now a professional field guide with FGASA Level 3 and Full Trails qualifications. She has been working at Bushwise since January 2020.


    Highest quality field guide trainer in South Africa

    Bushwise is well known in the industry as a provider of the highest quality field guide trainer in South Africa. This online course aims to provide a level of quality and support which is no different. 

    Responsive and efficient support that goes above and beyond

    The Bushwise team are extremely passionate about nature and the field guiding industry, and focus on providing support above and beyond other providers. Whether it’s assisting students to reach specific learning-based milestones, or providing support towards a new career path in the safari industry. 

    Expert-lead personal learning experiences

    Bushwise’s online courses are unique due to the amount of personal and guided learning time the student gets. There are weekly live webinars hosted by the instructors, allowing you to engage with students in discussions and Q&As. There are also student forums available to interact with fellow students, discuss topics of interests, ask questions and learn new things.





    Our passion for nature, conservation thereof, and the education of prospective field guides are evident in all our on-campus programs. Our professional trainers and team behind the curtains managed to deliver the same dedication with outstanding results through our online courses. Let’s hear what the online alumni have to say. 

     

    Gregory Jooste, South Africa, 2020

    The online course was an incredible experience! I went in having a fair understanding of nature, however, I have expanded my knowledge in nature more than I ever expected. The online course was extremely easy to follow and the Bushwise team made it an incredible experience all-round. Thank you so much to Trevor for being so patient and informative with every module and thank you to Henk and the rest of the team for all your support from day 1. I can highly recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in nature, you will not be disappointed!

     

    Gareth Jones, United Kingdom, 2020

    Very in depth course providing lots of knowlege on a wide variety of different subjects which are sure to come in useful when I attend the 50 week training course in January 2021!

     

    Daniel Greyvenstein, South Africa, 2020

    Highly recommended! The course was very interesting, and I will definitely be able to use the knowledge that I have learned in the bush.

     

    Daniel Sacker, South Africa, 2020

    The course was really insightful and interesting! There is plenty of information, not just from the manual but also from your trainer. It was really cool being able to interact with people from all over the world and hear everyone’s viewpoint on different topics. The course most certainly gives you enough information about the wide variety of topics covered. I would highly recommend Bushwise to anyone who is eager to enter into the world of guiding!

     

    Camille Larose, Canada, 2020

    I have followed this amazing online course. It’s definitely a good way to dive into South Africa ecology and biodiversity. I learned tremendous things and expanded my knowledge. I highly recommend this course – the team is incredible. Every expert is supportive and passionate. 

     

    Claire West, South Africa, 2020

    I loved this course – was very informative and helpful. Before the course I found it all to be very overwhelming, but as we say you eat an elephant one bite at a time and this was the perfect way to eat my elephant. The topics were so helpful, broke things down simply which helped me and now at the end of it I am not worried about continuing my studies as I have such a better understanding over it all.

     

    Kevin Lefevre, Belgium, 2020

    Big shout out to all the people at Bushwise for setting up the online course. Despite corona, this course made my summer pleasant and interesting . The instructors are knowledgeable and the learning material is very educational and into detail. This course is made for everyone who wants to learn more about the bush and be able to connect the dots between nature, animals and people.

     

    Ian du Toit, South Africa, 2020

    Great course, very informative, amazing course material. I was surprised that we were able to cover so many topics in such a short time-frame. Loved it.

     

    Jason Kleyweg, South Africa, 2020

    Bushwise provided an efficient platform that made the learning process an enjoyable one. A highly knowledgeable and professional team kept the environment friendly and light-hearted and created a family atmosphere that was a pleasure to be a part of. The industry-leading masterclass guests allowed us to gain valuable insights into the great work taking place behind the scenes and diversified the experience as a whole. I enjoyed the course from start to finish and look forward to working with the Bushwise team in the future.

     

    Ludivine Lenoir, France, 2020

    The online course was a fantastic experience. It allows you to study in from the comfort of your home and gives you a taste of what life will be like in the practical course. Plus, you get to meet the other students and work together. Even if you do not plan on doing the practical course, you will gain valuable knowledge of SA wildlife and ecosystems.

     

    Jorina van Rooyen, South Africa, 2020

    I thought I had average knowledge about nature but very soon realised this was not the case and that I have lots to learn. The course is very insightful and I learned so much. I loved meeting students from all over the world. The student discussions were so interesting and taught me to look a little deeper into nature. I will recommend this course to anybody curious about nature and wants to learn more. It changed my whole perspective on nature and I can’t wait to delve deeper into mother nature.

     

    Sajid Darr, Kenya, 2020

    This is hands down the best online nature-related course I have taken. In the past, I have studied Wildlife management and Game ranch management online with South African institutions but this one has been the most interesting and engaging course not just in terms of content but engagement. I would highly recommend it to those with an interest in Nature.

     

    Daniella Richardson, South Africa, 2020

    A wonderful course filled with loads of information, all set out in an easy to follow sequence. It built on my already existing knowledge and taught me many new things. The discussion topics were interesting and insightful and left one feeling as if we understood the world at a greater level.

     

    Anja Ellis, Germany, 2020

    It’s been an absolutely great time and a super introduction to all the different aspects of becoming a field guide. Although it was “only” an online course it’s been fun to interact with the trainers and students via Zoom and the discussions in Canvas.

     

    Christine Gerke, South Africa, 2020

    For anyone (and everyone) wanting to learn a little bit about the essence of Africa and all the beauty that it possesses, whether for interest, intrigue or a career – I cannot recommend a better course than the Bushwise Nature Enthusiast Course. Run by a team of experts (I mean EXPERTS) passionate about African nature and wildlife and giving people the opportunity to delve deep into the heart of the African bush. It is hard not to leave this course feeling a little homesick, wanting more, as it gives you an irresistible glimpse into the question, ‘What is it about the African bush?’

     

    Matthew Franklin, United Kingdom, 2020

    Overall this course was amazing I have learned so much and gained so much knowledge, the only thing I would like is one lesson on each subject per week so people can fully understand the subject matter. It would also be amazing if a live game drive or walk would be possible so we can start putting what we have learned through the weeks into practice, especially with animal and plant identification.

     

    Andrea Sabatta, South Africa, 2020

    I really enjoyed the course. It was interesting and nice to interact with others who have a similar interest.

     

    Grace Nabacwa, South Africa, 2020

    I enjoyed every week while on the course. The course content is exactly what I was looking for and even more. Time went very fast and I am glad to be part of the Bush wise community.

    Testimonials


    Kate Nelson

    General manager Camp Jabulani, Relais & Châteaux


    “Bushwise is a professional organisation, committed to the welfare of its students and to ensuring that they enter the safari industry with the correct qualifications, a high level of knowledge and strong guiding ethics.”

    Ben Tupper 

    former Bushwise student, now GVI SANParks Internship Coordinator


    “Signing up and completing Bushwise has changed the course of not only my career but my entire life. I now get to wake up every morning to the sounds of baboons and hyenas and end each day with the setting African sun; none of this would have been possible without undergoing the Bushwise course”

    Bushwise is accredited by Field Guides Association of Southern Africa