Kgomotso’s Inspiring Journey from Volunteer to Professional Field Guide

Born in the Okavango Delta, Kgomotso spent many of his childhood years roaming the bush in Northern Botswana. It was in the Delta’s grassy plains where his passion for the environment and animal behaviors first developed.

Later in life, he started working for the police force and always believed that his love for wildlife would eventually lead him to work in conservation.

Today, Batani is the leader of Guest Experience at Roots and Journeys in Botswana, after working as Head Guide for all the 5 Star Lodges at Great Plains. Batani is also a former student and employee of EcoTraining.

1. Why did you decide to pursue a career in field guiding?

Growing up in the bush, I noticed wild animals become aggressive when they are disturbed by humans or when people enter their space. I was told by my uncle to always keep a distance from wild animals and to approach them from a downwind direction. I enjoyed passing on this information to my family and I always told the community to respect wild animals. This is where my passion for animals first started.

2. At what age did you start working in the bush?

In 2011, I decided to complete my level one Guiding Course with Botswana Wild Life. I was 26-years-old when I joined EcoTraining as a volunteer at camp.

On my way to work one day, I picked up a local newspaper, and in it, I saw EcoTraining’s ad for a camp volunteer in Mashatu. I needed the experience of actually working in the bush, so I called and told them how badly I wanted to work at the camp. When I heard I was the successful candidate, I left my job as a police officer at Botswana Police.

3. What were some of your first responsibilities when you arrived at the camp?

My first daily duty was filling up the water tank that was about 1km away from camp. I enjoyed it because it was a bit of a drive to get to the generator and sometimes I would see wildlife on the way which was my favorite thing to do. Sometimes I would also pretend to be a guide and I would tell my imaginary guests about the animals I’ve just spotted.

I always traveled with my books so that I could do a quick reference check if I saw an animal I didn’t recognize.

4. How did your time at EcoTraining prepare you for your career in Field Guiding?

One thing that I like about EcoTraining is that you do practical training and theoretical training with the assistance of Instructors. The Instructors guide you and lead you when you are not doing things right. By the time you’re done with the course, you’ll be ready for all areas of field guiding. If you want to be a highly recognized guide, go to EcoTraining.

5. What are some of the best animal encounters you’ve had?

We were doing an afternoon drive when we came across a breeding herd of elephants. We stopped and watched them from a distance. There were calves of different ages and they seemed to be very playful, rolling up and down, chasing birds, and antelopes. That was the best encounter I’ve ever had.

The second best encounter was during a time when students from the United States visited South Africa and Botswana for research purposes – lions were darted and collared as one of their research projects. It entire process was so amazing, the way we attracted the lions by using an audio clip of a struggling buffalo to getting so close to a lion for the first time in my life!

6. What has it been like working in the bush during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

It has been hard to work during COVID, at one stage I was not able to provide for my family and we lost loved ones as well. I am appreciative to be working again. Roots and Journeys employed me during COVID. I am currently working as a leader of the guest experience for three camps. Due to my qualifications, I do everything related to guiding – boat cruises, game drives, night drives, and walks. I have recently been selected as a Training champion to mentor any new guide joining the company. I also enjoy giving conservation lessons to kids.

EcoTraining taught me all I needed to know and I feel like they’ve loaded me with the right ammunition to keep on doing what I love to do.

7. What would your advice be to someone who is thinking of becoming a Field Guide?

I would recommend to anyone who is interested in becoming a guide, to take it seriously. It is rewarding, being a guide means you are an ambassador for the conservation of all living things. Getting started is easy and you can even start doing self-study, you can then connect with a Wildlife Training Institute for theoretical exams and a license. After that, you can connect with a big training school like EcoTraining  – they will provide you with the right materials and then the right course at an affordable rate. Once you’ve done all of this, you will be ready to work as a guide in the tourism industry.

8. What kind of feedback have you received from the guests?

I have always received great feedback from guests. They always praise me, because I have so much knowledge about the bush. Some guests even invited me to their home countries because of the great service they received from me. I have traveled to New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and other places.

This could be your office | EcoTraining Professional Field Guide

The African bush is calling you! Will you answer the call? Ever wanted to know what the EcoTraining Professional Field Guide Course is all about? Well, here is your chance to learn more and get an in-depth idea of what your year with EcoTraining will entail.