The first National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 2 Dangerous Game Site Guide course to be conducted by the Sustainable Use and Field Guiding department started Monday 22 January with the arrival of its ten participants. They are a diverse and interesting mixture of students. Sam Beavers and Graham Scott hale from the USA. Matt Rogerson and Tony Ferreria are from the White River area. Both are keen to progress so that they are able to study the wildlife aspects of veterinary science. This course will be a good introductory stepping stone for them. Gareth Davidson and Willoughby St. Leger Denny are from Gauteng while Den Mhamuche and Thendo Mudau are from Limpopo. Also participating in the course are Kelly Nendouvhada and Sherron Mailula.
The NQF level 2 DGSG course involves 75 days of training over a little longer than a three month period. During this time 22 different chapters are covered on a wide variety of topics. Learning well and being able to identify the regions fauna and flora, along with its geology, weather and climate, astronomy, and how to handle and become competent with a large calibre rifle all makes for a challenging course indeed.
Over the first three weeks of the course 165 bird and five new and different trees and bushes per day have been identified. As has become the norm for students of this department, each has been issued with their personal ‘rifle’ – in the form of a 5kg piece of pipe with which ‘rifle mounting’ and upper body fitness exercises are conducted each morning before the start of classes. Initially each such training exercise was conducted to the accompaniment of much “eish-ing” and “aaagh-ing” but as the students become fitter and stronger I’m pleased to report these sounds are now being less frequently heard!
Of great concern to the SUFG department’s trainers and the students alike, is the ongoing drought. Despite it being, at the time of writing this article, the height of the rainy season, the veld is desperately dry. All the surface water in our core training area dried up long ago. What little grass remains is dead and now even some of the trees are starting to die. As a result the normally abundant wildlife, which makes the SAWC such a special place, too has gone. Training, in such conditions is to say the least, challenging. We do however all realize that drought is very much part of the cycle of life out here in Africa and we remain positive that sufficient rain will still fall before the onset of the dry season. Finally with the recent rainfall, things are looking more positive.