May 7, 2012


“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” (Frank Lloyd Wright)

Summer is trying to hold on for all its worth with a couple of straggling hot days, but winter will surely make its presence known in the next couple of weeks, we think...  The brightest full moon of 2012 filled the night sky a couple of days ago and illuminated the landscape magnificently! And just the same for EcoTraining and the courses around the country and over the border. Have a look what is coming up, courses on offer, what we’ve been up to so far and other interesting snippets.

If you have the urge to make a break and head for the bush, get yourself a place on one of the following EcoTraining short courses on offer in the next couple of months. Come on, you won’t regret it:

13 – 19 July: Tracking – Makuleke: To unravel the mysteries of nature even further, book a place on a unique seven day tracking course with EcoTraining and Adriaan Louw, one of the most highly qualified trackers and trainers in South Africa. It is fun. It is hands on. It is life changing!
19 July – 15 August: Trails Guide – Mashatu, Botswana:  Explore the wilderness of Mashatu on foot on the trails guide course where the majority of time will be spent conducting bush walks in big game country. It is open to anyone who wants to experience walking in a true wilderness area, while at the same time increasing your environmental knowledge and situational awareness.
31 July – 13 August: 14 Day Game Ranger – Makuleke/Karongwe: The Game Ranger Experience is for those people who want to learn some of the principles of managing wildlife areas for conservation and preservation of the ecosystems. Experienced instructors Jack Greef and Ralf Kalwa will bring to light the responsibilities of game rangers as the custodians of our wildlife areas and the fact that they are responsible for ensuring that our game and nature reserves are managed in a sustainable manner.
3 – 30 Augustus: 28 Day Field Guide – Lewa, Kenya: Fancy venturing out a bit further north into the African wilderness? Then our 28 day field guide course in Kenya is right up your alley. Learn about nature and ecology from EcoTraining’s wilderness camp in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy where you will encounter the rare black rhino and Grevy’s zebra.
14 August – 10 September: 28 Day Safari Guide – Karongwe: Imagine 28 days of living and learning in nature at our wilderness camps and then using this knowledge to give your safari and bush holidays a whole new meaning. Whether it is your dream or your passion, allow us to help you fulfil that dream!

Camps: Every minute on one of our courses in our camps in South Africa, Botswana and Kenya is a learning experience, being constantly exposed to the bush. See what the guys and girls have been up to in the past month!
Selati: Life on an EcoTraining course is one of adventure and excitement out in the African wilderness, but there’s always a time and place to be philosophical. A good example is this titbit from the poem, Thermal Delight, that Christina Tabacco, a FGASA Level One 55 day course student, wrote and that she closed her thermal regulation presentation with: 
Today on the plains
elephants do gain
from a splash in a bath
of sludgy brown water
Nyalas never hotter
from the shade they will not saunter
until the day concludes and a cool breeze
makes them unfreeze
from waking hours of sweatless unease
Now I put my jersey on
sensing the cool night coming strong
Tomorrow at morning’s request
rock jumpers and impala will don their furry best
As I crawl into my bed
I am happy for the synthetic and down
a cocoon in which I’ll surely sleep sound”

Fun was also had on a sleep-out excursion that is always a highlight for the students. Under the guidance of experienced instructors Wouter and Shani, the group of FGASA Level One students roughed it a bit but nonetheless enjoyed it tremendously. The best was saved for the daylight hours when the group was awakened by the load roaring from one of the Selati male lions, Mburi, close by their sleep-out spot. What a sight it was! Having made a kill during the night, Mburi was dragging half a wildebeest carcass through the bush and tall grass. The students, and instructors for that matter, were craning their necks and cameras and recorders were at the ready, capturing this unbelievable sight.
The best was saved for the last week of April though when unravelling the mysteries of nature even further under the tutelage from experienced instructors like Adriaan Louw and Alan Yeowart, made the week of tracking for the students one of wonder and amazement.  Not only were the group (one year professional field guide course) provided with an in-depth animal tracks and tracking experience, they also learned to interpret so much more about the bush and wildlife.

Karongwe: With the chill in the air indicating that winter is just around the corner, one would think that things on the ground will start slowing down as well. Not a chance! Making the excitement even greater, is not knowing what you will find around the corner or even if you will find anything at all. The students that went through this wilderness camp in the last couple of weeks, certainly experienced it all – from vultures circling above and then finding evidence of the leopard kill, but sans the elusive cat, to encountering cheetahs on foot while marking their territory, to spotting over a hundred birds in just a handful of days, to making stok brood around the fire and savouring crème brulee for dessert!

Makuleke: Our camp in this concession in the northern most part of the Kruger National Park is living up to its reputation as a true African wilderness with lots of exciting encounters. The courses are packed with excited students chomping at the bits to log their hours walking amidst the famed fever tree forest. Pretty spectacular!

Mashatu (Botswana): Communication with our camp on the other side of the border is not always the easiest. Go to EcoTraining – Ecotourism specials on Facebook, like the page and you will see what’s been happening in the Land of Giants.

Office: If you manage to be in the Durban area in the next week, head on down to the Tourism Indaba (12-15 May) where the EcoTraining team will be ready to welcome you. If you have any questions or requests about our courses, the guys and gals will give you all the information you need.

For almost two decades now EcoTraining has been training field guides, starting way back in 1993 with the first batch of eager students attending the inaugural course in the Sabi Sands reserve in Mpumalanga. Since then a great number has gone on to make their mark in the industry and are continuing to do great work all over the world. We want to hear from you, email with your stories!

Read here what two former students told us:

From “Sandton doll” to being a trance DJ in Europe, Natasha de Woronin has certainly criss-crossed the globe before finally landing the perfect job. With help from EcoTraining along the way, Natasha now research leopards for the Global Leopard Project in Namibia. She credits her training with giving her the best chance to follow her dream of working with wildlife and inspiring her to help save the natural world.
Natasha shares her journey:
“EcoTraining, and people like Lex Hes and Anton Lategan (EcoTraining owners) gave me everything that has made me who I am today, made all my dreams a reality and ultimately ensured that my passion be used for the good of not only my life but hopefully all leopards worldwide. From my own fantastic training I have helped set up guide training in Namibia at Erindi which is breaking ground as nothing like this exists in the country yet. Today, EcoTraining students come to Erindi for their practical and many have stayed on as permanent guides. Thanks to EcoTraining’s standards and fantastic courses over so many years, Namibia is now developing a higher guiding standard.
 EcoTraining will give you the very best chance you can wish for to follow any dream in wildlife, not only for guiding. It is the people of EcoTraining that are saving the world of wildlife by training and
inspiring their students.”

Raymond Khosa, from the Justicia community adjacent to the Sabie Sands, is also a former student who is excelling in the industry here in South Africa. He is currently the head guide (FGASA Level 2 and Trails Guide) at Berg-en-Dal rest camp in the Kruger National Park.
Today Raymond credits EcoTraining with his sound base of knowledge.
“Having done tracking at EcoTraining has provided me with a valuable experience of knowing the behaviour of the dangerous animals. I am able to identify the signs of the wild and interpret its meaning. I can also identify the tracks and know the meaning of some bird calls like oxpeckers, honey guides and fork-tailed drongos. All of this of course very important skills for a field guide. My time at EcoTraining was a once in a life time experience, and sometimes I wish I can go back and do it all again.”

Go and like our new official fan page on Facebook at EcoTraining – Ecotourism specials.
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(Thank you to everybody who contributed with photos and information!)
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