FGASA endorsement boosts guide training at the Wildlife College
Aspiring guides can now train at the Southern African Wildlife College in the Greater Kruger National Park, with some of the most experienced assessors in southern Africa. As a SADC recognised and accredited training and skills development provider, the College is endorsed by the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA).
Based on the highest standards within the guiding industry, the College will now offer comprehensive training and assessment for a number of FGASA qualifications, with a focus on field and trails guides qualifications, plus advanced rifle handling, local and regional bird guiding and two tracking qualifications.
Whilst the College has a history of training field guides with skills to operate in a dangerous game environment, the FGASA qualifications that the College will now offer reflects the need for a high degree of proficiency in rifle use, safety awareness and dangerous behaviour interpretation, the absolute minimum for any field guide operating in a dangerous game environment (Big 5, plus Hippopotamus and Crocodile). This means that prospective students will be registered for Apprentice Field Guide, Apprentice Trails Guide and will have to complete their Advanced Rifle Handling assessments to be declared competent.
College CEO Theresa Sowry congratulated the training team on the endorsement. “As a leading centre of excellence in skills training, this endorsement for guide training from FGASA reaffirms the role of the College in equipping conservation professionals with the skills they need to shape the future of the industry. We’re very proud of the quality of the guides we produce and the environment in which they train.”
During his visit to review the College training facilities and programmes in June 2019, FGASA Standards Director Brian Serrao, confirmed the endorsement.
“It is a great pleasure to announce that FGASA has endorsed The Southern African Wildlife College as another Field Guide Training Institute. They are a great professional team with high standards and I have no doubt both parties will benefit immensely. We at FGASA look forward to what I believe a long and successful working relationship with the Southern African Wildlife College,” said Serrao.
According to the head of the unit responsible for guide training, Dr. Richard Fergusson, aspiring guides who train with the College couldn’t be luckier. “Thanks to its location in the Greater Kruger National Park, there is no comparable environment in which to learn real-world bush and guiding skills through in-depth practical training, supported by intensive theory.”
“Not only will our students graduate with FGASA endorsed qualifications, they will also have daily access to a dedicated 4000 hectare training area close to Kruger’s Orpen gate, where the College is based. This gives them unprecedented access to learning opportunities and experiences that range from frequent encounters with the big five, to understanding the smallest elements of the ecosystem,” said Fergusson.
In addition, trainee guides at the College benefit from contact and interaction with the wide range of experts and other students involved in natural resource management and field ranger training, community engagement and applied learning projects, who also share the same campus.
For first time guiding students, the College is committed to running the apprentice field guild, advanced rifle handing and apprentice trails guide training together. The College does however also run advanced rifle handling for existing guides who have completed their apprentice field guide and apprentice trial guide qualification, especially since the rifle handling assessment needs to be done every three years.
Given how rigorous the endorsement process is, achieving it puts the College at the forefront of the guide training industry by recognising the unique mix of skills, experience and expertise of its trainers.
“That’s another reason to get a guiding qualification at the College. Together, our FGASA training team have collective guiding and training experience in excess of 70 years, with varied interests from dangerous game tracking to bird monitoring. The College also has one of the most qualified female field guide instructors working with its team,” said Fergusson. He added that the College looks forward to working closely with FGASA and the industry in training and developing professional field guides.
The next intake is in August 2019, and a few places are still available. Applications are also open for the January 2020 intake. The entry level NQF 2 course comprises 75 training days over three months
For further enquires on the entry level field guide course and more advanced field guiding, rifle handling, tracking and bird guiding courses or to apply, email: Richard Fergusson
The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) was formally established in 1990, by a group of professional guides aiming to set a standard for nature guiding practice. It was registered in 2005 as a Section 21 Company not for gain (Registration no. 2004/003844/08). FGASA represents individual Tourist Guides, Nature, Culture and Adventure guides, Trackers and organisations involved in offering professional guiding services to members of the public.
Executive Manager: Marketing and Fundraising
SOUTHERN AFRICAN WILDLIFE COLLEGE
Tel: +27(11) 7044386
Mobile: +27(82) 4582845
Email: Jeanné Poultney
SAWC Direct Line: +27 (15) 7937300
SAWC Website: www.wildlifecollege.org.za