Apprentice Trails Guides
Megan last wrote to you as an Apprentice Field Guide, today she is here to tell her story of week four on their Apprentice Trails Guide course!
This week has been productive. In class, we covered theory on approaching dangerous game animals on foot, learning about animal diseases, and crime scene/incident management.
We have had some wonderful and extremely exciting and interesting walks this week! I am going to share more about one day in particular. On Wednesday we went on a full day bushwalk. We left camp with some intentions on finding specific animals, which turned out to be successful, allowing us to gain more experience on foot with these animals and add more dangerous game encounters to our logbooks.
We had had an absolutely freezing and very windy start to the week! Unfortunately, the weather has a large impact on the walks we can do, because walking in windy conditions is very dangerous, for both the animals and for us. We did have some rain on Tuesday night, however, so the tracks we were able to find on our walk the next day were so great to see in the wet substrate. We saw tracks of Brown Hyena, Aardvark, and a very prized, VERY special track of a Striped Polecat!!! To put into perspective just how special, it’s only the second time in our course instructor Piets whole career, that he has seen this track! They are quite shy, small, mostly nocturnal animals.
It was a good day, as we saw a lot of tracks this day that helped me understand tracks much better. We were looking at some red Harteebeest tracks on this day, when all of a sudden, an elephant bull decided to surprise us from behind the thicket about 25m in front of us. I didn’t know how to react. We started backing away slowly as we have been trained to do, but he still decided to give us a small mock charge and took a few steps towards us! Our instructor Piet handled the situation professionally and calmly, and once we all got to safety behind the thicket and the elephant had moved off, we were all extremely happy to have had that experience. It was an unforgettable experience and trust me when I say they are a wholllle lot bigger when you are on foot!
After this, we had FOUR more encounters with different animals of varying family group or individual sizes. It was quite an eventful walk!
We wrapped up our week with a walk on Saturday and Sunday, to accommodate for the time we had to reschedule due to the weather. On one of these walks, we saw jackals feeding off a Blesbok carcass that some cheetah had got hold of, and we also on that walk had an encounter with some buffalo and lion!
It has been an amazing week!
Knowledge is love and light and vision. Helen Keller
Apprentice Field Guides
Kian has written his blog for you on an experience the Apprentice Field Guides had during week four of their course; one that he says will stay with him for a lifetime!
Experience of a lifetime!
Our week got off to an exciting start on Monday morning, with the Apprentice Field Guides setting out to feed Munu one of the few black rhinos left on our planet. Munu is a blind rhino with only his sense of hearing and smell left. Yet the awareness he had about him when we arrived was utterly amazing to see. As soon as we arrived at his living area, he was up and ready! He knew something new was about to happen.
He is one of 252 North-western Black Rhino left in the world. This is a big factor and people need to realize the huge impact poaching has on our wildlife species. It is so heartbreaking to even think of the fact that people would be able to poach such a beautiful prehistoric animal.
There are two species of Rhino that are found in sub-Saharan Africa, who look like one another, but the major difference is the shape of their mouths. Black rhinos developed a pointed lip which they use to pick fruit from branches and select leaves from twigs; white rhinos have a flat, wide lip to graze on grasses.
Filled with joy and excitement during most of the visit, and after we left too, we all had smiles for miles! Not many people get to see Black Rhinos and to feed one up close was a feeling of a lifetime. The first thing we noticed was the bond and respect the caretakers had for Munu, and in turn, the respect and bond Munu had for them.
Munus enclosure is cleaned every day with new fresh vegetation set out every morning. He has a constant supply of freshwater with it being replenished every morning and afternoon.
To get the opportunity to help clean his enclosure and spend time with him as we did, was something out of the extraordinary. All the efforts the caretakers put in just for this one rhino is amazing. One of the caretakers has been with Munu from the place where he was rescued from.
This was truly something I will never forget and has touched all our hearts in so many ways! I am deeply grateful to share this experience with friends that have turned into family!
We also had Doug Lang from Medwise Safety services with us for two days at the end of our week, to train us for our Wilderness Level two First Aid certificate, which is a requirement for the Apprentice Field Guide qualification.
Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. ~Albert Schweitzer