Gabriele and I have a keen interest in wildlife and nature photography, therefore the Wilderness Photography course with EcoTraining was the right thing to do at the best time in wonderful Makuleke!
In my year and a half at EcoTraining, I have had the privilege to move around our different camps and experience the unique relationship between humans and the animals that frequently visit the camps. The experience that captivated me, is the troop of baboons in Makuleke. They spend their days interacting with one another in and around camp and then roosting in the big Nyala Berry trees at night.
For years I have loved the northern part of the Kruger National Park. I wanted to do a birding course in Makuleke with EcoTraining. As this was not possible on the date offered, I decided to do the photography course instead. It turned out to be a very good choice.
After completing the first phase of the Professional Field Guide course, our group spent the next few weeks building on some of the wider skills surrounding the guiding industry; navigation, birding, and tracking to name a few. During this time, I was incredibly fortunate to spend time with many passionate and knowledgeable instructors although one moment, in particular, stands out as a favorite.
Every year, the month of February is used to highlight the plight of the Pangolin. Now more than ever, it has become vital for protected areas and game reserves to provide a safe haven for these vulnerable creatures who play a critical role in their ecosystems, living as an all-natural pest control in the wild.
Huberta had a nose for adventure. For some reason, she grew bored of her water world in the St Lucia Estuary. She figured there must be more to life than bobbing in water by day and grazing by night. In November 1928, Huberta left her pod behind and hit the road – headed south.
At the age of 71, Clare Wilson enrolled in an EcoTraining Career Course, packed her bags, and headed north for the bush.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. A hot and humid early summer day in November 2020, the day my Field Guide Level 1 course started. Little did I know that from this day on, I would embark on a journey that would teach me so many things and make me leave my comfort zone. A journey that yet continues to last.
EcoTraining Professional Field Guide Student Jack Vicary shares his EcoTracker – Tracking & Trailing experience with us.
Tropical Cyclone Eloise was one of, if not the strongest cyclone ever to impact the country of Mozambique, the impacts of Eloise were also seen here in the Lowveld. Instructor Sean Matthewson explains some of the effects the storm had on the Lowveld.
“Christmas 2019, which is now over two years ago, I was sitting with my family in Germany around the Christmas tree. Now in The Year of Covid, I have a completely different Christmas story to tell.” A year in the bush during a Pandemic by Anna Elisabeth Franz.
Based in South Africa, Albie Venter has been involved in professional wildlife guiding, wildlife management and eco-tourism since 1996 and we are very privileged here at EcoTraining that Albie managed to visit our camps on a regular basis. Here is a wonderful trip report of his most recent visit on a Wilderness Photography Course in the magnificent Makuleke.
Apprentice Field Guide Victoria Craddock has recently just received her FGASA Qualification and we couldn’t be more proud.
Victoria tells her story and shares her experience with us.
According to the World Rivers Day Association this day “is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.’’
As a young girl, I would never have thought that I could ever have loved being out in the wild, seeing the beautiful animals and driving around the scenic nature routes as much as I did. But, luckily for me, I got to grow up with a family that enjoyed going to areas such as the Kruger National Park and this gave my love a chance to grow even more.
Why not spend your time in the wilds of Africa whilst enjoying twice-daily activities at one of EcoTraining unfenced camps within the Limpopo Province. Or have a look what the other 8 amazing provinces in South Africa could have in store for you. Because you know, ‘Local is Lekker’
“Moving around by day, looking, listening, smelling, touching and tasting. Reawakening your senses” – this is the essence of a Wilderness Trail
If you have ever had the privilege of seeing a pangolin in real life, you will know the magnitude of this sighting. It will most definitely be the rarest sighting you will mostly like have whilst out in the African bush on Safari.
As you can see by the stats on your left, this is the most trafficked animal in the world – now, let that sink in!
So, what is the reason for the trafficking of these incredible creatures?
“Large-scale trafficking is driven by a belief that pangolin scales have magical and curative properties and demand for their meat. When mixed with bark from certain trees, the scales are thought to neutralize witchcraft and evil spirits. If buried near a man’s door they are said to give an interested woman power over him.” – African Wildlife Foundation
Did you know that there were four species of pangolin in Africa?
Well, now you do. These four species are as follows:
1. Giant Ground Pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)
2. Temminck’s Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)
3. The Black-Bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla)
4. The White-Bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis)
If you want to learn more about pangolin’s and other endangered species have a look at the EcoTraining Endangered Species Quiz.
Now, you might be wondering why were are talking about pangolin’s, yes they are fascinating creates and we could probably talk pangolin facts all day, but something very exciting happens this week at our EcoTraining Makuleke Camp that we just have to share with you!
We’re going to let instructor Sean Matthewson fill us in…
“As a cold front rages across South Africa, all creatures, both large and small seek refuge from driving winds. But in an isolated pocket of wilderness, deep in the forest, a pangolin negotiates the terrain and approaching storm.
Every time a gust of wind blows through the forest floor, this little hero rolls up into a defensive ball. He’s not sure whether or not these gusts of wind are friend or foe, and rather opts to be safe.
In these uncertain times, it’s safe thinking like that which will ensure his survival.
Pangolins are the most trafficked animal on Earth, with the majority of animals finding their way to Eastern markets for consumption, and likely, unfounded medicinal practice. It is for this reason that this little champion of the elements will be left free and wild in an undisclosed location (exactly where and as we found him).
Suffice to say, this little armoured tank is considered the Holy Grail of the African bush, with many an avid explorer never having a single opportunity to see him in the wild. It is also the only animal (to this author’s knowledge) that in an instant, can turn a grown man into a blubbering child, overcome with the sheer pleasure of the privilege of a glimpse.
As we sat watching the star of the show, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this could be the last time I set eyes on a pangolin in my lifetime. I am, however, utterly at peace with this notion, as I am among the lucky few and that my search for the Holy Grail, is in fact over.
It is, however, my hope that even now, in conservation’s darkest moments, that these astounding creatures will still find their place in the Anthropocene, and that my children’s children will too stand one day in the presence of greatness, as I did.
My gratitude extends to EcoTraining, without whom this opportunity could never have materialized!”
Want to watch this real-life sighting?