Training Days

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
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Trip End Jul 23, 2003


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Flag of South Africa  ,
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The staff kind of want us to have some idea of what is going on here, so the major part of the first week is put aside for training. The first day saw a quick brief on how not to die in the bush, followed by a walk in the bush around the house with Brett who has a passion for tracking. That meant that we got a run through on what information you can get from a single print on the ground, or some faeces. Plus there were some sightings of Impala and Waterbuck to give us our first glimpses of the game here. They kind of paled a bit against the sightings of elephants in the backyard though which brought everyone, and their cameras, to the back step to watch two of the male elephants wandering around the bush just below the house.

There were a couple more walks, one looking at the vegetation around the place and how to ID it, what it's presence signifies and what it can be used for, from toothbrush and toothpaste, to diarrhoea relief. There's definitely more to this place than just the animals, the more you look the more you find. The others also went on a bird walk, but as seems to happen when you go out specifically for birds, there weren't that many around that day.

Back in the lectures there was information about safety and the house routines and the normal day to day stuff. Then there was a background as to what GVI is doing here and what the research is used for, and some information about the individual animals that are being studied as well the species in general. This was followed by lectures on conservation, ecology and reserve management lectures which emphasise the need for people to have the basic information about animals in order to understand and manage them. We didn't exactly have the conventional classroom style lectures, as the sunshine quite often got too tempting and so we moved them outside into the backyard to make the most of the beautiful weather.

At the end of five days there was a test to see how much we learnt, and in what areas we were strongest in (and also how well the lectures were given). That saw a bit of last minute cramming, before deciding that we wanted to get the test out of the way so we could relax outside afterwards. Still waiting on the results of that one.

The final activity for the training week saw a bit of a treasure hunt through the bush with our two, supposedly non-English speaking guides to protect us. We went in hunt of the lost Mojo and it took us back to Pride Rock where the next clue left us a little confused as our new maps didn't have the dam names on it, and the clue was about bulls and frogs, but a check of the old map made Bullfrog dam the obvious place to head to. From there it was GPS bearing to the next clue, then a walk to Leadwood Rd where we found the lost Mojo under the Afro tree. Then it was back to the river crossing for a night of camping out under the stars after a Braii (BBQ) dinner. The staff all got to sleep the night through while we took turns in having one and a half hour watches sitting around the fire making sure that no wild beasties came to attack anyone in their sleep. There wasn't much seen on watch, except for the odd call from jackals and a few antelope moving around. The next morning saw the end of the training week and it was time to start the normal routine which will be our way of life for the next four weeks.
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