How a Field Guide is Made

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At Thornybush, we often get positive feedback on our accommodation, service levels and food, but what we get the most incredible feedback on, are our field guides.

Their knowledge about all things bush-related, personal accounts of their experiences, charming demeanour and master-driving skills are what make the memories when you visit one of our luxury lodges.

At Thornybush we know that our field guides play an important role in helping our guests to fall in love with the wild ways of the bush. For this reason, we only employ the very best African ambassadors.

Here's what goes into making a field guide who is good enough for our guests at Thornybush Collection.

Becoming a Field Guide

It takes more than an abiding love of the bush to cut it as a field guide. You need courage, determination and a massive capacity for hard work. Receiving your certification takes dedication and years of study both in the field and behind the books. Individuals who set out on this career path need to earn a certification from a tertiary institution, some even have degrees in nature conservation.

Wherever you find plants and wild animals in South Africa, you will find field guides. Most guides work behind the scenes, seeing to the day to day care and monitoring of wildlife, plants and the environment, many are involved in anti-poaching initiatives and others focus only on education.

For every field guide you see during your African safari, there are many other unsung and unseen heroes of conservation, working tirelessly to defend our environment.

Where Do They Learn the Tricks of the Trade?

The Southern African Wildlife College, based in Hoedspruit is where most field guides go to study. There are universities which also offer field guide training, as well as a number of private schools and colleges.

The curriculum available to a prospective field guide is vast, with opportunities to specialise in every aspect of wildlife and environmental management as well as tourism. Many of the field guides at Thornybush started out by taking a course in tracking or field guiding and then furthered their studies once they had gained invaluable time on the ground, some started studying after leaving school.

  • Examples of the subjects that field guides must pass to qualify include:
  • Ecotourism Management, development and marketing
  • Wildlife Management
  • Biology – plants, animals and invertebrates are studied in great detail
  • Conservation Administration
  • Communication
  • Field work in South Africa's most common biomes
  • Intern work at a recognised conservation facility

Basically, field guides need to know everything about the natural world around them. Those that work with tourists also need masterful communication skills, charisma and conversational talents.

These professionals are responsible for keeping our guests safe, they have to read the body language of dangerous African wildlife and act accordingly to keep their charges safe. They must be able to drive and walk through difficult terrain without disturbing the environment or animals, and they need to be able to start their duties at the crack of dawn and keep going all day.

It's a difficult job but for many it's a passion, even a calling and they simply love doing it. At Thornybush Collection we appreciate all our employees who go out of their way to bring joy to our clients. We couldn't do it without them.


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Monday, 16 September 2019