Ulovane Update: January Field & Backup Trails Guides Week 4
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
We’re already passed the half way mark of the backup trails course and I can’t believe it! Wow, how time has flown by. This week was a challenging one, from testing our nerves to testing our endurance. Us as students started leading the walks this week and it definitely opened up our eyes to what it actually feels like to walk in the bush surrounded by so many fascinating things but also to the different dangers involved in being out on foot.
The mere fact that all your choices on everything you are faced with out there can affect the lives of everyone walking behind you is a rather daunting thought. As stressful as this sounds, it has also been one of the most calming and grounding experiences. You really do feel at one with nature when out there on foot. There is something about it that I just can’t pinpoint.
We had some incredible sightings this week and definitely gained more respect for the bush and even more for the instructors. Each day this week we tried to find specific species but what really made the experience out on the reserve that much better were the things we saw and experienced that we weren’t expecting.
Your whole perspective and focus changes while on foot, you start to realize how much more there is out there than the usual mammals and birds. Finding new things to learn about and understand fascinates me. I found a quote by John Muir which sums this up rather well: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” This is so accurate, you just have to go on a walk with an open mind and both the knowledge and experience gained will be immense.
There were days this week where we really had to push ourselves because of course, no one else can do the walking for you. I really enjoyed the days where we not only had to keep ourselves concealed from the animals but the games drive vehicles too. It was a real test of stealth and teamwork. One thing is for sure is that we are all still making mistakes, but this is how you learn. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said: “Mistakes are a great educator when one is honest enough to admit them and is willing to learn from them.”
On to the last 3 weeks of the course, can’t wait for what the last bit has to offer!
- Grant Perry
This week was an interesting one for the field guide students, mainly focusing on three topics: fish, amphibians and ecology.
We started the week on a very good note having a film crew join us for the day drive, which had an interesting twist when we bumped into the pride of lion which was an awesome sighting! Later that day we went fishing and caught a few carp, but as always we lost the “competition” against Uncle Ben. After we recovered from our loss in the fishing competition we went into the river and did a fish survey which was a lot of fun and also tested our team work. We caught a few fish which were good indicators that the river was improving on its own without our help.
Frogging was very interesting, we spent quite a bit of time trudging knee deep in the mud of the different water pans on the reserve trying to catch and learn about the different species of frogs and toads that we came across. It was actually a relief being knee deep in the mud because it was an extremely warm week here at Ulovane.
Throughout the week we took more notice of the ecology of the animals, how they live, how they adapt and how they interact with all the different factors of nature. This helped make sense of different animal behavior, etc. It also makes you notice more of what is happening around the animals, not just the obvious signs.
In the middle of the week we went out onto the reserve and had a lekker braai (BBQ) which consisted of boerewors rolls and fresh carp that we caught ourselves. We had an awesome time as we had some time to chill and get to know the lecturers a lot better than we already did.
The most interesting thing about this week was probably learning that there are 115 species of frogs and toads in South Africa which is amazing because not many people actually know that we have so many different species of frog and toads in our country!
We can’t wait to see what the week ahead has in store for us, hopefully some cooler weather!
- Natalie and Devon
Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing – Dr Seuss