December 13, 2012

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT, OR NOT…: CANDICE WAGENER MCGUIRE’S STUDENT DIARY


When one signs on for the One Year Professional Field Guide Course with EcoTraining, you open yourself up to all kinds of wild and wonderful adventures and experiences to fill a lifetime with memories. After six months of theory and practical lectures out in the field at all our wilderness camps (Selati, Karongwe, Makuleke, Mashatu), the lodge placement phase gives you a taste of life in the industry and what it takes to be a field guide.

Even though she’s got to return to ‘the real world’ soon, Candice Wagener McGuire still has a couple of more weeks left on her lodge placement at Mavela Private Game Reserve in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Zululand Rhino Reserve. And from the word go, Candice has had the time of her life, experiencing things par none!

Like the chance to tag along with management to dart some lionesses so their tracking collars could be changed. Have a look here…









And then there are the times spend with guests. Candice elaborates…

“The lodge filled with the quiet air as everyone went off to bed, but two people decided to stay behind and just enjoy it a little more. This is what happened.

I and a guest decided to stay behind a little longer after everyone answered the calling of sleep. Leigh– Jane wanted to see some of the videos I’d taken during my course since I’d spoken so much about the memories.

After a particular one, an elephant encounter that we had on foot, she wanted to learn a little more on how to handle such an encounter. I decided to play the clip of the elephant part to the series ‘Dangerous game on foot’.

At a certain point, we both shot our heads up and looked behind us. I looked at her and mumbled ‘I reckon I just heard lions calling.’ She confirmed it and walked towards one of our tented windows to take a peak, excited that she heard them.

We walked towards the doors and locked them on her request. ‘You have nothing to worry about, you’re tent is just around the corner, my house is above the lodge,’ I nonchalantly said.

We stood back from the doors and I said we’ll be safe in here, only after did I notice that a sliding door next to the kitchen entrance was wide open. We scurried across and used team work to close the doors and then off to check the kitchen, she opened the door to check outside and then couldn’t close it! ‘You’re going to be the reason we get eaten,’ I said, not trying to hold the laugh in.

Leigh-Jane was trying to think how we were going to get the other guide to come assist, all the while walking around the lodge peeking through each visible area she could find. I walked to the second sliding door, opened it and went outside to listen for a bit. I walked back in saying that it was probably just an ostrich. Yet she was still busy trying to decide if we should sleep on the sofas up on the bar deck, or the ones down stairs. I just kept trying to convince her that it was ostrich, not lion and after playing the ostrich call it worked.
Having spent a while in lock-down, I went around switching off the lodge lights and we made the way to her tent, just to find her friend was still up. ‘I heard the lions calling too,’ Ann said.

I dropped my head as Leigh–Jane tried to rush me into their room. I thought of all possibilities, including just end up sleeping in the tent next door. Instead I took her number and said I would whistle when I got to my house.

I got to my room safe and sound, sent the sms and sounded the whistle, yet Leigh–Jane and Ann never got either one of the pre-arranged signals. I can only imagine how much sleep they eventually got, not knowing if I was safe…

With all snug in bed, it was the end of a fantastic day with two special guests. Needless to say, the next morning started off with laughing about the night before.”

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