We would like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate the January 2019 Field Guides!! An excellent result of 84% group average, has made us super proud of all of you!! We have watched your transformation from cacoon to butterfly and it was incredible! We are excited to have so many of you back for the Backup Trails guide course. To the rest all the best for your studies, ventures and futures, we know that whatever you do it will be successful!
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler
We can all hardly believe the end of this 10 week Field Guiding Course has come to an end so quickly! This week felt like it might go a bit slow, but in fact, it flew by. The final assessment drives finished on Sunday afternoon, and then from Monday, we had our final theory components of the course to complete, including the mock FGASA exam we had on Wednesday morning.
What I realised about the mock after we had written it was that it allowed for us to finalise on what areas we were still unsure of, thus giving us the last final bit of preparation for the final FGASA exam which we wrote on Friday morning. The mock exam taught me something about myself and I took away a valuable lesson of patience from this because I spent most of Thursday revising hard for our final on Friday. I think we all felt thankful for having been given the mock exam in preparation for the final exam.
At the beginning of our course, we were all informed we had a final presentation to present in the last week of course. I chose to do mine on ‘How to do a Presentation’! I think this for me was my outstanding moment of the week as we all did really well and I am very happy that I passed this assessment. It was great to be able to sit and listen to everyone’s different topics, meaning we all learnt new and different things this week. One of my fellow students on the course, Sam, did a very interesting presentation on lion culling and I learnt some very valuable things from it that I didn’t know about before.
On Friday last week, I was one of the students who supported the trial verdict of the infamous Ndlovu rhino poaching gang in Grahamstown High Court. I grew up on a farm and have spent my life amongst wildlife, so it made me very angry to hear what they have done, and I am glad I was not the judge in charge of the case because many of us personally feel a life sentence could have been given.
During my ten weeks here at Ulovane, I have learnt so much about nature and the environment in which we live, and how connected humans and plants and animals really are. I have also learnt very valuable things about myself, a big lesson learnt for me, was how to work as a team with others because this is something I have never really been able to do. Another thing I really enjoyed about my time here at Ulovane was the ability to live and study with people from all around the world.
And here we are on Friday, GRADUATION DAY!! We are all feeling a mix of emotions – relieved we have all successfully completed the course, joyful that we can relax and breathe that all is now said and done, sad it’s come to an end, happy we have all grown so much, excited to go home, and everything in between!
I loved my first 10 weeks at Ulovane and can’t wait to return in two weeks time for Trails. I must say, I am going to miss these spectacular views over Amakhala, but we will soon be back 😊
Nick’s excerpt on the rhino trial in Grahamstown:-
On Friday the 15th of March a few Ulovane students who were not busy with the hosting duties that took place during the assessment game drives were given the opportunity to attend the trial verdict of the Ndlovu Rhino Poaching syndicate at the Grahamstown High Court. We felt horrified and saddened by the case after having just watched the film STROOP: Into the Rhino Horn War, as this real-life documentary gives an in-depth look into both the national and international crisis of Rhino poaching. We jumped at the call to fill up the courtroom for the proceedings, feeling more than obliged and happy to attend this verdict and show support for the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, as well as to all the vet, anti-poaching ranger teams and men and women of the police force who work so hard day in and day out, to protect these treasured animals.
They started at 9:15 am with most of the day having all the evidence reviewed which, at times, was incredibly interesting to hear the analytics on the ballistics and crime scenes and all else that was reviewed. After this, a short adjournment took place, which would then be followed by the verdicts.
The three accused were all found guilty. One being found guilty on all 56 charges against him and the other 2 having been found guilty on almost all the charges.
Although the war on Rhino poaching is far from finished, this small but crucial victory has brought to an end a 10-year spate of poaching incidents involving this gang. We left Grahamstown feeling happy that we could do our bit in supporting the war on rhino poaching!
It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
– Charles Darwin
Monday gave us a magnificent start to the week… Deep sea fishing.
As has been usual on the marines course, the morning started out pretty early with a 05:30 am start to the day.
We arrived at the Royal Alfred Marina and then left in the boat at 06:00 am to head out on to the ocean. It was covered in fog, which made the trip out so far into the ocean a little eerier, but at the same time all the more exciting!
The captain let the anchor down about 3km’s out to sea, at which point fishing seemed pretty much futile because of the freezing waters we found ourselves in. However, we found ourselves reeling in quite a few Dogfish, which are a species of bottom-dwelling shark, which left the captain of the boat unimpressed, to say the least. With the amount of Dogfish being caught, we soon found ourselves relocating to the next best fishing spot.
Coinciding with our movement, the fog lifted and with this, the moods lifted too, and a few of the guys who seemed destined for sea-sickness got their act together and started enjoying the trip and this was then the start of a good day.
We started catching Carpenter by the cast with a few special catches in between, such as Grey reef shark; Pyjama shark and Cape Gurnet (All of which were released).
With a few sightings of coastal birds in between, such as Common Tern; Sooty Shearwater and Sub-antarctic Skua, this was definitely the recipe for a perfect day.
After we returned to the Marina and thought the day was over, we found that Koen had made a sneaky arrangement with the captain for us to gut the fish and remove the scales (of the larger, legal fish that was not released). In the end, the gutting and scaling of the fish turned out to be more fun than anticipated, with all of us returning home with a newly acquired skill.
Tuesday had snorkelling at Kenton-on-sea in store for us and myself, having never been snorkelling before as well as never having forced myself into a wetsuit, was very sceptical at first. Once I got myself into the wetsuit with the help of the entire group and found my way down to the rockpools, things started getting better. Submerging beneath the water and observing marine life in its natural habitat was just so refreshing for all of us and especially for me. This being the first time, I did not know what to expect but even so, I can say that it was beyond my imagination the beauty one can find beneath the surface of the water.
Wednesday was a day for learning, with marine invertebrates the topic of discussion. After a full day of class, the evening was free and we decided to take a stroll along the beach at low tide to the rock pools as it was a full moon. This decision turned out to be the best thing we could’ve done with our time as a whole lot of excitement was in store for us.
Firstly we came across an octopus, the first of many for the night. We then stumbled upon a few crabs and a whole host of shrimp and fish swimming in the rock pools. As we continued on our way, we found a nudibranch! An amazing and very exciting find. This magnificent creature had us occupied for quite some time, and then just as we thought the night couldn’t get any better, we found a pool with at least 10 rock lobster.
Thursday was a day for preparation as Friday was the Field Guide’s graduation which meant there would be no other time for studying. Having had a blast seeing the Field Guides off and spending our last night together with them, Saturday was back to business, with a good set of results for all of us.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ―