Ulovane Update: Field Guides
“You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.” – John Irving
Time has gone by way to quickly and the 10 weeks Field Guide Course has now come to an end. We will always remember the last 10 weeks filled with great memories and the makings of strong friendships.
During the 10 weeks we have all gained more knowledge than we could have imagined as well as an amazing respect for the environment that surrounds us. Every single day was filled with a new adventure out here in this piece of heaven, with amazing views from the campus over the Amakhala Game Reserve.
Not many people are privileged to be able to experience such an amazing way of life but we lucky few have had that privilege to experience this and I personally can say that I always want to stay out here as it is so peaceful and one learns something new every single moment you spend out here in nature.
The final week has been a busy one for us, we kicked off with our Field observation exam and then another Slide and Sounds Identification test. Wednesday we wrote our mock FGASA exam in order to identify the subjects that required attention and to help us prep before our final exam. Pass or Fail we all had the chance to identify our week spots and what we could improve on before the final FGASA exam.
Although everyone was stressed about the final, everyone managed to put their heads to it and studied hard as Thursday was our final study day. Personally it was nerve wracking not knowing what to expect in the final exam, however we all managed to support and motivate one another and helped each other to prepare for the final exam. We spent ten weeks gaining knowledge and skills, it was now up to us to put pen to paper and confirm that we are Field Guides.
The relief of being finished with exams was a great one, it was time to enjoy our final day and celebrate our success. Before the evening presentation and speeches, we headed off on our last game drive together, it was incredible and the perfect way to end off our mad week. Our last group picture is proof of the happiness we feel at being in this special place. God’s window on Amakhala Game Reserve was the perfect spot for our sundowners and last photo opportunities. To end off the day we had an exceptional sighting of the Cheetah family. They walked right by our vehicle and I was on the tracker seat, they were not bothered by us at all and continued with their afternoon missions. Personally I can say it was the best sighting I have ever had with the cheetahs, just being so close to them was heart lifting, words can actually not describe how I felt and am sure I wasn’t the only one to feel this way.
Some of us will be back for Trails in April, but for some it is time for new adventures. We as a group have become family over the last ten weeks, we may not always see eye to eye but at the end of the day we work and play hard together – just like family should. We have supported each other through the good and bad times the last ten weeks and I am thankful for that support.
A special thanks has to go out to Justin, Shani, Piet and Koen for helping us through the last 10 weeks and giving us the fantastic knowledge we have gained along the way. All the Jokes and life stories from you all kept us going and kept the spirits high although times got tough. Thank you to Mamma Joyce and Mamma Thabs for taking care of us! A very special Thank you to Tatum for being there for everyone as moral support and for managing the media, not only were you a support figure you became a fantastic friend to us all.
Thank you to Candice and Schalk without you we would not have been able to experience this great adventure and make our dreams come true.
From all of us the 2018 January Field Guide Class Thank you all and we hope to continue to use the knowledge you have given us and to always have you special people in our lives going forward.
Once again thank you to everyone from us as the 2018 January field Guides and thank you for starting us off to a great year.
- James Hallier
Final Update Shani
The first field guide course of 2018 has ended, and I thought it would be a good idea to write something about the importance of teamwork (since most of these guys and gals are coming back to Ulovane for their backup trails course) and teamwork is extremely important when you on foot in a dangerous game area!
Ten weeks ago, a bunch of girls and guys from all corners of the world arrived at Ulovane for what hoped to be an experience of a lifetime. They cried together, they laughed together, they studied together, and they grew as a team, together.
The importance of teamwork could be seen when assessment time knocked on the door, it is a crazy busy time at Ulovane camp and everyone is busy with something – be it to prepare for their own game drives, washing a vehicle, getting a vehicle ready or preparing a cooler box, there is always something to do!
The field guides all did exceptionally well with their practical assessments and we had some very happy guests – I would like to congratulate all the Field guides for coming together as team during that time and for believing in yourselves that you CAN do it! Well done you guys!
But what is teamwork?
The French language describes it beautifully: ‘esprit de corps”. This means a sense of unity, of enthusiasm for common interest and responsibilities, as developed among a group of persons closely associated in a task, cause, enterprise, etc.
Teamwork can be likened to two compounds, almost essential to modern life. It is the glue which keeps a team together, a bond which promotes strength, unity, reliability, and support.
Teamwork is also the oil that makes the team work. It can enable smoother movement towards targets, can prolong forward momentum, and can help teams to overcome obstacles.
Teamwork creates synergy!
Why is teamwork important?
Well, it is one thing to create a team, but quite another to create teamwork. Just as it’s one thing to join a team, but quite another to perform as a team member.
To put it simply, teams don’t work without teamwork.
If you want to be a successful guide, you must be able to work as part of a team, because it is that team that will create the experience for the guests.
Enjoy your two weeks break guys, come back fit, rested, and ready for your back-up trails guide course!
- Shani Preller – Ulovane Trainer
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’” African proverb.
Both Shani and Justin have put some interesting information together for us, just a teaser of what you could learn from us here at Ulovane. Always interesting, always exciting, leaving you wanting more! We are proud to say we have some exceptional guide trainers on our team!
Giraffe Sparring…..a test of character
We were incredibly blessed to come across a sighting of two young Giraffe males during their sparring match. This displayed behaviour had grabbed the attention of each and every student as we observed this truly magical show unfolding before our very eyes. For most students this was like being in front row seats of the “bush cinema” while Sir David Attenborough quietly narrates in the background. Most of us are familiar with the television series “Africa” by Attenborough which gives his viewers extraodinary footage of rare behaviour on both the more common and rare species, however in my 8 years of guiding I have found almost every time one sees a tower of giraffe the incredible scene of the two giraffe bulls battling away in the series is a topic which has captivated each viewer and remained a memory never to be forgotten.
Encounters between mature males are of a more serious nature as each bull is fighting for the right to a group of females which would earn him the title of the strongest male and best suitable mating partner. Both males position themselves side by side either facing the same or the opposite direction, firstly here a physical size-up is done and when both opponents are relatively equally matched then the fighting starts. Exchange of blows by swinging their necks and hitting their opponent with short stubby horns (ossicones) inflict damage either targeting the rump or chest.
Young males exhibit what we refer to as “sparring” and therefore is a milder version is fighting. During this sparring these young males are stimulating and developing strong muscles which will be required in future encounters once matured.
Much can be learnt just by watching these two giraffe males testing themselves. In life there will always be tests, some minor some more serious but ultimately it is how we learn from these lessons that will best prepare us for the future.
- Justin Barlow – Ulovane Trainer
Animals and the Moon
For centuries people have been fascinated by the moon. We write poems and plays about the moon.
“The moon shines bright. In a such a night as this. When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees and they did make no noise, in such a night…” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
Even great authors like William Shakespeare often wrote about the moon. There are fables and myths and animal legends associated with the moon.
How many times have you uttered the phrase, “It must be a full moon,” to explain the bizarre behaviour of family, friends, and even animals? I don’t have to point out that the Greek word “Luna” is, after all, a prefix of the word “lunatic.”
There are a lot of strange behaviours linked to the full moon – a Japanese midwife in Japan noticed an increase in birth rates closer to full moon; A study reported an increase in lion attacks on humans in rural Africa in the 5-day period after full moon; Researchers at the Bradford Royal Infirmary in England, investigating a 2-years-worth of medical records regarding animal bites to humans, may have found an explanation. They speculate that dogs, cats, horses, and rats are more agitated during a full moon because there is also an increased correlation in flea and mite feeding during this time; For ages, hunters have insisted that animals act differently at various stages of the roughly 29.5-day lunar cycle.
Research on the Moon’s influence on animal behaviour is still in its infancy, but researchers are beginning to find some significant evidence of animal – moon interactions and relationships.
Of all the elements of the Moon and its effects upon Earth, the most significant seems to be the amount of light it provides during the night at any given time. Researchers have discovered that the activity of most animals, not just land dwellers but coral reef residents as well, decreases drastically during a bright full moon and increases radically during the darkness of a new moon. Some of us may want to project a mythic quality onto this strategic withdrawal, but it appears, speculatively at least, to be a pure reaction to the amount of light available. Nocturnal prey seems to fear predation and hide, while nocturnal predators, with fewer targets, slink off to their own hideouts.
Not all animals hide from the illumination of the full moon though. Research in Botswana has revealed that while nocturnal animal activity declines during this phase of the Moon, diurnal animals become more active at night. This may be because they have less to fear from night-time predators and because they have the light necessary for foraging, scavenging, or hunting during this time of the month that they usually have during the day – a window opens to what is essentially an extended daytime hunting period, and they take it. That’s clearly the impetus for primates, one of the groups that remains active no matter what the Moon cycle is, but who (amongst a few species at least) only increase their hunting behaviours at night versus the daytime under a full moon.
Conversely, during the new moon nocturnal animal activity spikes as prey feel they have greater cover of darkness and predators know there’s more out to stalk. The spike for nocturnal predators is often higher just after the full moon, as they are hungry from an imposed pseudo-fast of lunar brightness and go nuts on their slowly, progressively more active prey. This tie between darkness and animal (especially predator) activity may be, according to some speculative scientists, the association of humanity’s common fear of darkness, rather than a general fear of night.
Yet, while most of the Moon’s effects on animal behaviours tracks to the amount of light it casts on darkened Earth, our only true satellite has a few more complex influences as well. A few studies show strong evidence that some species (especially amphibians and corals) mate in accordance with stages of the lunar cycle. The speculation amongst some scientists is that the Moon in these cases acts for proxy, informing animals about the tides (which it controls) or the availability of other cyclical sources of food. It has become such a strong predictor of environmental factors relevant to animal survival that many species may have a lunar rhythm clock built into them, much like many have a circadian rhythm to track the passage of a day even when an illuminating body is obscured.
Humans too, it seems, have developed a lunar rhythmic clock after millennia of collecting relevant environmental information from the Moon. Evidence collected from recent sleep studies showed that patients took fifteen minutes longer to fall asleep during the full moon and slept for twenty minutes less. (The patients were unable to see the moon during these studies). As to why we modern humans still want to or need to stay awake during the full moon – that is an open question. All these lunar ties need more research.
So, the next time it is full moon or new moon for that matter – grab your binoculars and go explore the bush. Who knows what “strange” things you might see!!!
- Shani Preller – Ulovane Trainer