Life as a trainee Trails Guide: It is not always about the Big 5!
Ulovane update: This week at Ulovane we focused on tracking in preparation for the upcoming assessment that will be shortly upon us, we are all very excited for a week of tracking and look forward to the surprises that we know are coming.
Tracking is a real challenge that the bush can throw at you. With disturbed soils, uneven ground and tracks on top of tracks, it takes some time to distinguish what animal has walked there, what it was up to and where it went.
In trails guiding tracking is so important as it can make you aware of animals that will operate in the area you are in and can prepare you for what animals you may find during your game drive, so to be able to recognise tracks effectively it is a strong asset that a guide can have.
We enjoyed walking this week with the focus on tracking, being on trails has taught me that you can walk for 6 hours and not see a single animal but look that little bit closer into the environment that is around you and you start to notice the small things in the bush that become truly fascinating and that you never thought to look for before!
On Tuesday we took a walk through the area on the reserve known as the Valleys, what an amazing combination of wide open spaces and dense vegetation it is a beautiful part of Amakhala Game Reserve.
Our instructor Pieter, as we were walking stopped suddenly, and turned around to face the group with a sly grin on his face. He had found a chameleon. Chameleons are awesome creatures that are very special here at camp because the Xhosa word for Chameleon is, Ulovane.
They are such versatile animals that are able to blend and adapt to their environment like no other animal. They have different layers of photochromic pigment as their skin and so will change shade, colour and pattern of their skin at will.
We all held the chameleon and watched its slow movement as it cautiously moved around our hands and arms. Chameleons have almost full range of motion with their eyes as they are on turrets and can swivel and move them around to see as much of their environment around them as possible. It is not often that one is able to find chameleons, watching such a small animal that is so well adapted to survive and blend in was the highlight of the week for me.
As we watched our friend move up the branch of an acacia tree we realised that the camouflage a chameleon has is unparalleled to any camouflage you will see in the bush. It makes you wonder how many chameleons you will walk past in the bush and have no idea they were there.
Next time you go for a walk in the bush, take the time to look for the little things too, they are just as intriguing and special as the big things!
It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. John Wooden