Early August saw the start of our second Dangerous Site Guide course for 2018. In keeping with the department’s aim of providing quality training we again only took on ten students, four of whom are from Malawi’s Department of National Parks, funded by The Royal Foundation. Other students are two young women from Makuya Trust, two gentlemen currently working for a private camp in the Klaserie Nature Reserve and two self-funded students, one from Denmark and the other a young South African.

The course spans 75 days of intensive training. As a young guide you cannot afford to specialise in ‘one field’, but rather have to be a ‘jack of all trades’. It is important to impart enough knowledge to the students so they have a broad understanding of our natural world, from geology, soil, plants and animals. Not only is it important for a guide to have a wide knowledge base but it is imperative that they have the ability to interpret what they see in an entertaining fashion to a guest; often hailing from a foreign country speaking a foreign language. Communication is key and our students are grilled from day one and forced to talk, convey and interpret what they see every afternoon while out in the bush.

As the name of the course implies, the Dangerous Game Site Guide course is designed specifically for guides aiming to operate in areas where dangerous game occurs. Every hands-on occupation has its tools of the trade. For the dangerous game guide, it is a rifle. It goes without saying that a such a guide should be highly proficient in handling his or her weapon and we spend a large amount of time and effort to get our students up to speed. It starts on day one and is the last practical assessment to be completed. During this last course no fewer than 1200 rounds are fired by our students. We’re glad to report that, although some found it a lot easier than others, all ten students made it through, sore shoulders and all.

Congratulations to all and good luck for the future.