Good day from a wintery, but blue sky and beautiful Eastern Cape! A very warm welcome to all our new arrivals on the Field Guide course and welcome back to our Backup Trails Guides group. We trust you are all strong, positive and ready learn more about what mother nature shares with us everyday. The Ulovane team is excited to get this semester going and share our magic office with you! Thank you to Maya and Megan for our first Ulovane Updates.
I’m very inspired by nature – you could say Mother Nature. I look at things around me and get all kinds of inspiration daily. Martha Stewart
It is the first week of the new Field Guide Course. Our mixed group comes from all over the world. Some students come from South Africa, the States and some from Europe. Everybody has their own reason for being here and their own stories to tell. It is interesting to find out about the different motivations everybody has to be here. In this training you get the possibility to prepare yourself to be an actual field ranger, get knowledge about conservation issues or to get a break from everything you are used to. But our love to nature and wildlife brings us together.
We are all different, but in the same situation and eager to learn.
On the walks and drives in the first days I find myself overwhelmed from the amount of animals and plants, that I never recognized before. Animals leave signs of their present all over the bush and it is exciting to watch them in their natural environment and witness how they treat each other.
On our first nightdrive, we searched for the lions. They were seen on the reserve, so we scanned the bush. Everybody followed the moving spotlight with their eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of these beautiful cats. We didn’t find them that night, but that didn’t matter, because we shared the excitement and the tension, while we were all focusing on the same thing.
The next morning as our search continued, we knew we were close when we heard the lion’s roar. It is so deep that you can feel the vibration. Things like this made me realize where I actually am. One group was surprised by the beautiful lioness crossing the road and the other witnessed her with her warthog-kill, which was still screaming.
One night we went out and drove on top of a hill to gaze at the stars. Coming from a big city, I have never seen so many stars like here. We were able to see the venus, jupiter and mars. The night sky is incredibly beautiful and impressive and I never was aware of that. I thought I could never recognize a star constellation, but I actually can and even learned how to find north and south with their help.
The friday and the weekend was all dedicated to first aid and safety. We created accident scenes with blood all over our patients, to be able to act when we have to and when it is our responsibility. We learned so much and had some mind changing lectures about human nature and their failures.
The yellow mongoose scurries along whilst the fork-tailed drongo sit perched on a bitter aloe, one of the familiar sights on entering Ulovane. Upon arrival I was escorted to my new room, to be cheerfully greeted by a familiar face. In no time I felt right at home almost as if I had never left.
The week started off with getting straight into our lecture on Advanced Rifling Handling after which we were given an air rifle to practice, our preparation for the PFTC exam just four days away.
The following morning we were exposed to the crisp, icy cold winter morning air as we anticipated our first walk. We had every right to as not long into the walk we had managed to track one of the reserves well known elephant bulls. We had the privilege of witnessing the elephant performing its daily activity of drinking at the waterhole and crunching away at the lush surrounding vegetation. Later on in the walk we were treated to a rare sight, particularly in winter, of a massive leopard tortoise basking in the warm midday sun.
In no time the day of our PFTC exam was upon us. A sense of nervousness filled the air getting tenser as the minutes went by. It was of great relief as we soon came to realise the exam hadn’t been as difficult as expected. The practical shooting had been somewhat challenging particularly with regards to a distance of 50M and ten rounds in which eight rounds had to reach the target as a minimum pass requirement.
The day however was in our favour and ended off with a scrumptious looking pizza as a reward for a job well done. One week down and another six to go, one should constantly remember to unload but always keep your finger on the trigger as you aim to reach your target.
“Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe