August 18, 2009

Field Guides in Gabon by Anton Lategan

"A Guide is a leader, a guardian of nature, an interpretor and an honest host to visitors. A guide should represent the highest standards of ethics and care for nature and people in the wilderness and in their own community. Guides are the key to sustainable tourism as they passionately take a stand for conservation through steering the people that suround them in their interactions with nature.

The natural beauty and wonder of Lope National Park is best experienced by being immersed into a sensory voyage of discovery led by a competant guide. The endless forest, savannah, rivers and hills are home to spectacular and often shy species that may not reveal themsleves at first. This wilderness is best viewed with a local guide that has pacience and understanding of the ecosystem. Lope is a challenging environment full of natural guardians including the sun, rain, insects and mega fauna so it is best to take your time and gently move in sync with the natural system.

EcoTraining had the priveledge of training a group of guides between May and June this year between Lope and Mikongo. We covered a proven and logical curriculum giving the local guides a broad understanding of ecology and guiding principles. We prioritise on getting trainees as practically safe and competant as possible and then add well timed theoretical knowldege. We focused the training on the following four principles: Safety, Sensitivity, guest enjoyment and guest education.

I feel that each one of the trainees could grow by becoming self sufficient. Each guide should take charge of their future by practising their English language skills, by studying all available books, reading magazines and using the internet to ensure they are well equiped to host their guests and promote tourism and conservation of Lope National Park and Gabon.

When travelling into and out of the Lope area I realised that many of the animal and plant species are under threat by mans comsumptive ways. I believe that these Guides can play a role by being guardians and hosts for this special place." Anton
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