Apprentice Field Guides
We welcomed our new Apprentice Field Guide students to Ulovane campus this past Sunday! Hannah has joined us for the apprentice Field Guide course and has written a wonderful account of their first week here at Ulovane, with some incredible sightings on Amakhala Game Reserve.
On Sunday, everyone was warmly welcomed by the Ulovane team, including Cornflake and Bruno. Our first week started off with a game drive on Amakhala Game Reserve, led by Justin the lead trainer for our Field Guide group. We were welcomed by a few resident antelope on the open plains of Ulovane Reserve, such as Springbok, Cape Mountain Zebra, and Impala. We then entered the land of the Bitter Aloe, where we saw our first Cape Long Claw sitting on the vibrant red and orange flowers.
As we made our way through Woodbury gate, flowers from the Plumbago bush guided us to an open area called Riverside where we had our first Elephant sighting. We watched this herd of Ellies gracefully make their way down into Rooiwalle. We were then treated to a mother and calf sighting, which is always wonderful! Fairly relaxed, the mother grazed with her baby nearby. The drive ended with a Black-backed jackal running through the grass as the sun was setting.
Tuesday morning’s drive was just as exciting with our first Lion sighting not too long into our drive! Two males had just made a kill and were just lazing around!
During the week we learned about vehicle skills which we then practiced out in the field getting the feel of Theo, the Land Rover, with low range and diff-lock. Our day trip with Melissa was very educational and we learned a lot about the diverse landscape of Amakhala. We visited the ‘Little Grand Canyon’ and were amazed by its unique formation and color of the red soils which you can see from the pictures. This was the most memorable moment of the week. The drive ended with a sighting of a Buffalo bull in the valleys.
We ended the week off by getting stuck in the veggie garden and clearing the surrounding areas. We are all looking forward to seeing the growth of the veggie garden and being a part of its development.
“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” – Eric Butterworth
Apprentice Trails Guides
Veer is back to join us for the Apprentice Trails Guide course! He has begun the new Apprentice Trails Guide blog season with an account of their first week on the course!
We started our first week off with getting our Professional Firearms Training Council (PFTC) training to attain the three-unit standards we need to be able to operate a rifle. This started with us practicing our shooting skills with the pellet gun, and then we held the .22 and .303 caliber rifles that we would be shooting on Thursday for PFTC, just to get a feel for them.
On Thursday we went to Port Elizabeth to Falcon Firearm Training academy to write our PFTC test, after which we then went to their shooting range. Here we shot the .22 caliber rifle at 10m targets and then from 25m away. After this, we used the .303 caliber rifle at 25m with all of us hitting the target on a points system that was graded out of 5.
Our first bushwalk on Amakhala Game Reserve came around on a very misty and foggy, Friday morning! The fog at the beginning of our walk was very thick and descended onto us very quickly, causing us to stop walking for about 20-30 minutes. As the sun came up gradually the fog burned off and then we could continue with our walk.
Once going again, we began to see some interesting animal tracks and signs, like porcupine and jackal tracks, and a trap-door spider’s burrow too. The walk was the highlight of my week! It was both fun and educational, but it was also an important walkthrough some Albany thicket which was hair raising, as every sense you have, becomes more alert because your vision is limited to how far ahead you can see in the thicket. Whilst in there, we saw some lion and elephant tracks along the animal path we followed in. As we neared the edge of the thicket, it opened onto the open plains of Amakhala, at which point we then began to make our way back to our vehicle.
We saw an elephant bull from a distance, who had just had a drink and was now eating. When he eventually walked off, we also decided it was time to go back to camp. One last surprise remained; just as we got to the vehicle Pieter, our Apprentice Trails Guide instructor, saw a pathway that was made by a rodent, which was also cool to see! We ended our week with a drive on Saturday morning to the shooting range for some bush clearing around there.
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald