As is custom each student got issued his/her “rifle” on 16 February after induction. This is a one-meter-long length borehole pipe that is painted green with one end sporting a bright red ring, the muzzle end. These pipes are used to help students gain the necessary muscle memory and strength to effectively handle a large bore rifle when the time comes to learn to shoot. We start each morning with a practise session before class. The students are required to get into an appropriate shooting stance holding their pipes as if they were real rifles. On command they must mount the “rifle” to their shoulders and hold until told to lower it again into the ready position. During this process each student is closely monitored and any mistake in stance or rifle mount corrected. This is an enormous help further down the line when we start using real rifles.
Apart from the guiding course, our department also attended a meeting with the SA Hunter and Game Conservation Association Training Committee. During the meeting it was decided that the committee along with other stakeholders will meet at the College during March for a two-day planning session to develop specific short courses that will be conducted at the College to promote ethical, responsible hunting practises that will enhance the conservation value of local hunters. These courses will add benefit to the already popular dangerous game hunting course we already present.
We also had the opportunity to present the first introduction to game farming course. These courses are aimed at new and emerging farmers wishing to enter the wildlife economy. Our aim with these courses is to try and steer these farmers away from the popular intensive breeding of game in small camps that do nothing to add to conservation of species or the habitat where these animals occur. Through intensive breeding we have more sable today than 50 years ago in South Africa but far less sable habitat. The idea is to teach sustainable land options that restore habitat with the added human and economic benefit that can be attained in the long run.