Ulovane Update: Field and Backup Trails Guides Week 6

20 May

Backup Trails Guides

This was our second last week here at Ulovane. It’s insane how quickly the time has gone for these six weeks. Our hearts are getting heavy knowing we have one more week left.

This week has been a practical one full of tracking and trails. We have been doing a combination of both tracking from a vehicle, where we would drive to different locations in order to broaden our spectrum of different substrates to track in, as well as encountering different animal tracks; as well as also tracking on foot on our walks through Amakhala Game reserve. We have all learnt so much! We don’t just learn what species the track belongs to, but the depth we are taught from our instructors includes learning at what speed the animal was moving; if it’s a male or female and if it’s the back or front foot and left or right, and which direction it was moving in.

We had our main tracking assessment on Saturday and Sunday. We were fortunate to have had Adriaan Louw visit Ulovane and assess us to attain our Cyber Tracker qualification. He is one of the best trackers in the country, and we are all so grateful that Ulovane could organize this whole assessment for us. The experience was amazing, and just meeting and being able to learn from Adriaan has been my highlight of the week! If we thought we’d learnt most of it, we learnt even more about the tracks we saw, ranging from elephant, ostrich and giraffe to some of the smaller species such as mice or rats, millipedes and dung-beetles. A couple of giggles were had when we discussed our answers together, having a buffalo called a bushbuck, amongst other things. This tracking week has definitely been one to remember.

Next week we have our final assessments and exams. We are all very excited and nervous about it, but we know the time is coming when we have to say goodbye to all the friends we have made here.  We will always remember the fun we had and have the memories forever!

Sam

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Suess

Field Guides

Monday started our sixth week off with a bird lecture to prepare us for what was to come! Birds are challenging for me, but I have accepted the challenge to learn them, and I won’t give up. We learnt so many fascinating things; from their nest to their foot structure, something which I did not know how many different ones there were! In the afternoon I had to do the game drive, which I was quite nervous about but in the end, it went well.

Also on the agenda for this week was animal behaviour. I found this very interesting to learn about as it taught us different behavioural patterns of animals, as well as the various family structures animals,  live in. This day ended off with my highlight of the week – after 6 weeks of patience and searching, we finally found the hippos and they put on a fantastic display for us!

Mid-week we had an enjoyable walk right here on Ulovane Reserve, working on our tree identification for the upcoming practical assessments, and also having the chance to physically identify the birds by both sight and sound. We then had to find our own way back to camp which was a lot of fun; it’s safe to say we managed to get back which was a great feeling for all of us. Justin then had a sneaky surprise for us! We played a game called “Bokdrol Spoeg”, where we put a pellet from an antelope in our mouth and have to spit it out to see who can get it the furthest. The afternoon lecture on bird sounds really showed me that with hard effort one can learn what they struggle with.

Most of Thursday was spent on our tracking assessment, where we had to identify different types of tracks and signs left by animals. It was an interesting day and I found the questions being a mixture of both easy and difficult, but we all had lots of fun doing it. We learnt a lot from our instructors and now I am even more excited for trails to start.

Friday was a day of mock assessment drives for four of us. I was on the tracker seat which gave me quite a close-up experience with some elephant! What was amazing though was that from the animal behaviour class we had, we could see that the elephant was not aggressive but more curious, and so I was able to stay on the tracker seat and enjoy the thrill of the experience. I was so happy that I did not fall off!! The afternoon drive had me on the tracker seat again, and this time we were blessed with an up close and personal encounter with a female cheetah who had a VERY full belly of food! I had never seen her before, so this was a very special sighting for me.

Our week ended off with tyre changing, some handy work around camp, and relax and prepare for Sundays exam. On Sunday evening we got to practice our cooking and hosting skills in preparation for next weeks hosting activity.

It has been an enjoyable week & I can’t wait to see what comes next….

Wesly.

(We would all that to say a huge thank you to you Wes, for the amazing photos you have provided through these last 6 weeks!! We love and appreciate them!)

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” – Dr Seuss

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