Our head ranger Isaac walks us through the “dos’ and “don’s” on safari and what decisions we have to make between respecting the wildlife and meeting client expectations. This is not such an exciting blog but a very important one!
“To become a safari guide takes years of studying, saving up for reference books and expensive exams. The love of nature and its wildlife is your first love and main priority. Your eagerness to teach your guests how magical the bush is at the forefront of your enthusiastic speeches in the park. To obtain your license is a proud and exciting day as your career as a guide starts. As a guide you must respect not only the park rules but understand the animal’s behaviour, when you can advance and when to retreat. When the animal is uncomfortable and when it is relaxed. Not only is this important for the safety of your guest, yourself and the animal it shows a great deal of knowledge and understanding of animal behaviour and warning signals. It is common sense to respect the land and the animals but also it is important to respect the rules in order to keep your license.
All too often we see guests trying to push guides for a closer viewing, a better photo or a look, more exciting behaviour or a snarl for the “gram”. The ethics involved in guiding are a gray area, of course we want to show off what we have but at a safe and respectful distance. The repercussions of breaking those rules include losing our license to guide and fines that long surpass the tips that caused us to break the rules. Driving, for example, off road is prohibited, we can reposition the vehicle as many times as you like but to drive off road not only destroys the landscape and biodiversity but can put our vehicle at risk of attack. We may crush small trees, shrubs, insects or even birds and in turn frighten the animal causing it to run off. We ask that guests understand and respect our boundaries as guides. There will always be another sighting, another drive or another chance to see something closer to the road. The animals who are habituated to the vehicles and relaxed often allow for very close viewings but we ask that you do not jeopardize our jobs! We too are here because we love nature so let us view it together!’
We asked Isaac what are the dos and don’ts of the bush and he gave us some helpful hints:
No littering, please if you have something you wish to discard give it to us and we will do so appropriately.
Do not stand in the vehicle, be warned an animal can be relaxed with us one minute and charge the next. The animals, particularly the predators are used to the outline of the vehicle, the minute you stand you go from vehicle to prey and we do not wish for any accidents!
No shouting or calling at the animals, if they were to speak it would be Nanja our local dialect so calling “here kitty pss pss” is not helpful! We don’t want to scare the animals away!
Turn your phone on silent, we are here to enjoy the bush. The phone calls, messages and Instagram likes can stay at home. Let the people in your car enjoy a mobile free zone. By all means take pictures and videos then message all your friends about your magical trip back at camp!
Let us know if you see anything or need anything! We have 2 eyes but 4, 6, 8 or 10 are better than 2. It is better to stop for nothing than to miss something so even if it turns out to be a log or a bush you never know what is around near that log! We can always find a bird to spare your stop in favour of a great learning opportunity! It is also perfectly normal to need to stop the car to “mark your territory'' or “water the flowers” if you catch our meaning. Do not be shy or embarrassed, the roads are long and bumpy, better you tell us early to find the best seat in the house than wait until it is too late!
A safari can be a once in a lifetime trip and whilst we love for you to come back again and again, we understand it is not a cheap holiday and many of you save up to make it here once! We ask you to respect your fellow guests and ensure it can be enjoyed by everyone! We appreciate you not pressuring the guides into behaving in a way that makes them uncomfortable and puts their livelihood at risk, even if another guide is doing it! We want this to be the very best holiday you have and we work hard to ensure that so we really appreciate your cooperation in the above to make sure everyone has the best time possible!