Thursday, June 27, 2019

Safari Guide of the Year 2019. Taking a walk on the wild side

These three sponsors have also come on board...
Lalalala Wilderness: Track and sign winner
Livingstones Supply Company: Guided walk winner 
Anderson Wildlife Properties: Game drive winner 

Although the competition still has another day to run,
this was to be my last game drive of the event as I
had to return to Johannesburg.
The first cloudy and very chilly early morning of the event,
but this sunrise made that all worthwhile.
On a previous morning walk, there had been an encounter a pair of lions
and although it had been a tense interaction,
it had been handled with skill and expertise.
I suppose that in a way we were also hoping
 to have a similar encounter with one of the Big 5.

I was at this spot just a few weeks ago and it had water.
Now it was bone dry and the giraffe seemed to be confused by that.
These were the first of several giraffes that we found during the 3-hour walk

Safari Guide of the Year nominee, Rassie Jacobs
was the lead guide during the walk.
Here is was showing us a set of porcupine tracks.

This is the track of the rather elusive black rhino.
And it remained like that during our walk...elusive.
The only confirmation of their presence in the area was this set of tracks.

Unlike a previous walk that I was on
we did not have to fight our way through these thorns!

On this particular walk, it was not thorns that we had to contend with,
it was this member of the Flannel Weed family, 
whose small pods that attached themselves to my shoes and pants.
Not too difficult to get rid of, but more plentiful than thorns.

Most warthogs will run when they see a vehicle.
The exact opposite seemed to occur when we found this fellow.
He just stood still!
And not for just a moment...for the longest time.
We walked towards as well as in front of him
and he held this pose.
In fact, as we walked away, he was still standing in the same spot.

Most plains game seem to be as interested in us 
as we were in them.
This small herd of wildebeest were no exception.

"Are giraffes carnivorous"? 
A question that guides are sometimes asked.
The short answer is that they are browsers and do not consume meat.
That being said, they do often chew on this individual.
Called osteophagy, the bones are chewed for their nutrients.
They are discarded when the animal has had sufficient nutrients
and not swallowed.
Kudu engage in a similar practice and for the same reasons.

At first, it was thought the this might have been left by a rhino.
However, the tracks tell a different story.
Look in the top left corner of this image,
you will see the hoofprints of a zebra.
The conclusion was that it was the zebra
that had been chewing on this and for some reason 
decided to spit it out.

With Rassie in the lead
and with James with back up, our group strode back to our vehicle...
or where we thought it was.

This was the area where part of the walk occurred.
By this time the wind had started to pick up
and it was beginning to get colder than when we started out.

A wildebeest skull showing Horn Moth growths on the keratin layer.

The open plains can be somewhat confusing
and we had gone slightly off course when heading back to the vehicle.
Phillip Wessels, Head Trainer at NJ More Field Guide College,
where the competition was being held, had gone back to find it.
We followed in his size 15 bootprints until we heard the sound of the engine
and waited on the side of the road for him to pick us up.

On the drive back, I chatted to Juan Pinto
and James Steyn about the changes to the Trails Guide qualification.
This is what they shared with me:

Although I won't be in camp 
I know that the day will end off around the fire.

The final storyteller is Riaan Fourie.
and I wish him all the very best.

All the sponsor information
 supplied by FGASA.

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and may not be used without permission

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