Empowerment is the word along the animal corridors at Hideaways Mogotlho, Khwai River. Guides Roy Ngele and Keoikagetsa Mphoyamodimo (Kaizer) recently attended and graduated from the African Guide Academy, enhancing their skills as well as their careers. During the course, the guides learn the mastery of tracking wildlife on foot, identifying the more intricate aspects of nature, as well as how to handle dangerous scenarios in the wild. Qualifying as a walking guide is the next step towards becoming a professional guide, the final destination on this career path.
As local residents of Botswana, both Roy and Kaizer grew up with awareness of the wild. With a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta, knowledge of the wilderness becomes second nature, surrounded by its diversity. It takes curiosity, ambition and opportunity to embark on a career as a guide, seeking out work which leads to courses and apprenticeships within the field. Formal training is the necessary foundation for one’s career, hand in hand with experience in the wild. Ultimately, it all begins with passion.
“Being a guide all starts with passion for the bush, from the little knowledge that you get as you grow up in the village, the knowledge of tracks, animals and bird calls that we learn in the village through elders and other guides.” Roy Ngele
As the wilderness becomes one’s office, it is vital to learn and understand how to deal with dangerous scenarios. Whether driving or following in the footsteps of wildlife, one needs to be focused and in tune with their surroundings. One of the skills of a guide is learning how to read the bush, being able to ascertain past and future activities through the signs of nature. This involves an intimate study of a variety of species, as well as understanding how they react to each other and exist together within an ecosystem.
The African Academy course enhances guides from being able to take guests in a vehicle, to lead them on a walking safari. Feet rooted to the earth, immersed amidst the flora and fauna, gifts an intimate perspective of the wild. In order for a guide to be qualified to do so, they must learn the theory of the wilderness, as well as how to maintain safety within it. Imparting knowledge about nature is accompanied by the ability to approach potentially dangerous animals with caution and respect, keeping everyone safe, including the animals.
“The course is necessary for any walking guide because it teaches you how to deal with different conditions in the bush, how to handle guests in the bush, how to safely approach a potentially dangerous animal and what to do when you find yourself and guests being charged by an animal. The course distributes the knowledge of how to safely take guests out on a walk without endangering their lives, the animals and yourself as a guide.” Roy Ngele
Being a guide requires a certain type of personality. One must be passionate and committed to wildlife and conservation as well as having the inclination to share this knowledge. The role requires the characteristics of an educator, teaching those around you how to connect with, respect and relate to the ways of the wild. The position also comes with being a mentor to children in surrounding towns and villages, presenting an opportunity for education, empowerment and career growth.
“As guides we go around to schools to teach kids the importance of conservation. We even take them on game drives for them to experience nature.” Kaizer
Mogotlho Safari Lodge would like to congratulate and thank Roy and Kaizer for their time, passion and commitment to our wild spaces, and the inhabitants within. Without our guides, our experience and understanding of the wild would be unfulfilled, as it is through their eyes and in their footsteps we learn how to access nature.
“It means everything to me to have attained these qualifications, I am so thankful to Mogotlho Safari Lodge, Directors Mr Pretorius and Mr Kelly, Managers Mr Brendon Newton & Andrew Clarke to have given me the opportunity to undergo this training.” Roy Ngele