Student News (July & August 2020)

By far the highlight of student camp life is the amazing amount of leopard activity we are still lucky enough to see in and around camp on a regular basis. Career Development Course Student Kyla Labuschagne posted the updates below after finding fresh leopard tracks and dragmarks.

Leopard drag marks from an Impala kill the night before, at Gobandlovu Base Camp
Captured by one of the Camera Traps on Kuleni

The Angasi has been getting busy running the activity centre again, and are in charge of planning and running early morning activities for all students in camp. There has been a few highlights during the morning guided activities and the leopard activity has certainly made the Track and Sign activities more exciting .

Carmen, Kyla, Daniel, Warrick and Tyler after their morning walk, highlights were trailing the leopard and a great Gorgeous Bush Shrike sigting.
Piet, Misae, Alicia and Rikus after a successful morning trailing the leopard.

Daphne, Daniel, Tommy, Pierre and Alica enjoyed a great and unique sighting of a nesting pair of Grey Sunbirds. The morning mission was to find Pink Throated Twinspot, which eluded them but they were rewarded with nice Purple Crested Turaco display on a Marula Tree – always such a beautiful bird to see!

With local guests starting to show up again on Kuleni Game Park, we hope to see these guides showcase their skills with some of the local guests as well!

Team News July & August 2020

Like many other business, we have also suffered substantial losses due to Covid 19, and have had to reduce our team substantially. Only a small essential staff compliment was allowed back at work in July and August and we are very grateful for the valuable contribution of the intern team over this period as well.

Interns jumping in to assist with meal prep
Student Kitchen got cleaned and repacked – hoping it will stay like this for a while.
Activity Centre got rearranged and library moved over.

July saw the start of an unusually small Professional Field GUide Course, due to the many cancellations enforced by travel restrictions. This however provided an early opportunity for our two newest interns, Thando from Kosi Bay and Nosipho from Ermelo, to join the group and complete their NQF 2 Apprentice Field Guide Qualification. Both have worked really hard to earn their places, and have successfully written their FGASA Theory Exams. With only the practical assessment ahead of them, we look forward to announcing them soon as fully qualified guides.

Thando’s dream is to join in the footsteps of her late father who worked as a guide in the Kosi Bay area. She will be staying with us for the foreseeable future in order to complete her Marine Qualification, after which we hope to see her start a successful career in Kosi Bay.

Nosipho’s passion is for the dusty ground! After her second work period she will proceed with the Apprentice Trails Qualification.

Nosipho and Thando having some coffee to warm up a cold winters morning on practical.
The Ingulule Group with instructor Stephen Ingram and guest and ex Bhejane Intern Ncgebo Mhlambo

We look forward to welcoming more staff back in September / October!

Bhejane Fortuner is not so fortunate!

Certainly one of the most reliable “members” of the Bhejane Team is the Fortuner doing many of the supply runs and transfer trips. The Fortuner however is currently out of action after real Bhejane encounter! Whilst helping with a Rhino dehorning operation at Somkhanda, Dylan and the Angasi returned to the spot where the vehicle was left – only to find this sight! It seems the vehicle ended up in the path of the rhino as it was being pursued by the helicopter, and it it took some time out to leave its mark! We hope to have the Fortuner back in operation as soon as possible!

Dylan with the defaced Fortuner.

Industry News July & August 2020

Students in Industry

With most guides being at home over July and August – we look forward to the domestic travel industrie slowly gaining some momentum and giving all our guides the opportunity to get back to work again! The current 3rd Year Group, has not seen much industry time at all yet due to the national lockdown, and we will postpone their graduation into 2021 to give everyone the opportunity to gain some meaningful industry experience first.

Since FGASA training providers were allowed to start training again in June, and most guides were not yet working, we also enjoyed having quite a few of the guides in industry from previous years and courses back in camp to renew shooting qualifications, gain mentored trails hours and assist with watching the camp over quiet times. It was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone.

Wildlands / Somkhanda Partnership

We have been fortunate in 2020 to build a really exciting working relationship with the Wildlands Trust and Somkhanda Game Reserve teams. As part of this partnership, we have been working with a group of guide trainee candidates from the local community. Somkhanda Game Reserve is a Community owned reserve, and Wildlands Trust is the managing partner that manages the reserve and ensures its successful conservation. From an initial group of 12, we currently have a group of 5 completing their NQF 2 FGASA Apprentice Field Guide Qualifications with Bhejane. The group has been very enthusiastic and we are looking forward to the upcoming assessment period for this group and wish them all the best in their preparation. The 2nd Year Angasi group as well as the Bhejane intern team has learned much from this group – being locally born and bred they come with some extra history on the area and its people. In turn the Angasi and Interns also had the opportunity to showcase their skills and was involved in organizing and running a number of skills challenges for the group to promote fun and interactive learning!

The Wildlands team has been working hard to make this training possible and we hope that this will be just the start of a successful career journey for all the candidates involved. We are also grateful to FGASA for contributing the Registration and Subscription fees for the candidates to make registration and NQF 2 assessments possible.

Bhejane Angasi with the Yes group after a skills challenge.

The WIldlands/ Somkhanda Yes Group with their FGASA Manuals, ready to start learning.
Working on Team Challenges