Nature Tourism

View Potentially Dangerous Game (NQF6)

This qualification is needed when you guide in nature areas where any of the following animalsthe so-called “Dangerous Nine” are present: Elephant – White Rhino – Black Rhino – Hippopotamus - Buffalo – Lion – Leopard – Spotted Hyena – Crocodile.

There are many game farms/reserves, where the above animals might not be obviously present. It is important to remember, leopards are extremely elusive, and many farmers don’t even know they have leopard on their farms  - leopards are widely distributed throughout most of South Africa.

Kjeld has used a game farm in Mpumalanga as a training facility for many years. He and his learners have crossed the Spekboom River umpteen times, before they realised there were crocodiles in the river. They sometimes crossed this mostly shallow river in the dark! The land-owner,  his family, and his elderly mother, who have lived on that farm for over 65 years, didn’t know there were crocodiles in the Spekboom River, due to the dense vegetation along this river.  

Should a nature guide be guiding on “such a game-farm” where leopards are not obviously present, and in a thicket in a river system or in a ravine, he walks his group into a leopard female with cubs at close range. Such a leopard female, in order to protect her cubs, will most probably charge. One of the guests is mauled, and might lose an eye and 2 fingers were bitten off in the event. This guest might be a top surgeon from the USA, and he decided to sue the farm-owner for millions of dollars.

The employer’s company does have insurance, but the insurance company find out that the guide needed the VPDA qualification in order to guide guests here, even though it is the first time leopard has been seen here! Based on this fact, the insurance company refuses to pay out, and the farm-owner is now responsible to pay the client!

Fortunately such a scenario doesn’t happen often, but it could.

In any area where any of the ‘Big 5’ is present, this qualification is absolutely obligatory if you guide/ walk any guests around in nature.

Any wild animal should be treated with respect. It is often shocking to see in documentaries on TV, how a guide would guide his guests to as close to a rhino or elephant as possible. Not only is such a guide risking the lives of his/her guests, but the animal is now also at risk, should it charge due to the people now being inside this animal’s “Flee /Fight zone”- it is absolutely unethical!   

The art of good trails guiding, is to bring your guests to a distance which is far enough from the animals so that the animals can continue their normal activities and behaviour unaffected, but close enough so that  your guests have enough time and opportunity to clearly view the animals, and then afterwards you extract your guests, without the animals even being aware you were there.

During this course:

·         First of all, we teach you the different zones around an animal, and how it would react, and also what your reaction should be when you enter any of these zones.

·         We also teach you how to react when you have to interact with any of these 9 members. You might quietly walk down a river drainage system, and coming around a big bush, you unexpectedly walk into a buffalo / elephant / hippo at 5 meters – clearly into the danger zone of this animal – how do you react!

·         How to do a pre-briefing to your guests on the game trail, as they shouldn’t have any doubt what is expected of them in a crunch moment

·         How to control the group

·         How to ensure your guests are ready for the trail

·         How to read the body language of these 9 members, especially those associated with aggression. We also look at other dangerous creatures you might encounter in the bush.

·         Know the behaviour patterns of these animals.

·         The roles of the “1st Rifle”/ Trails Leader as well as “2nd Rifle”/ Trails Leader  Assistant /Backup during a game trail.

The general feeling is that this qualification cannot stand on its own leg, but needs to have as a second leg, its twin qualification, “Advanced Rifle Handling” (ARH) – which used to be an SAQA and THETA accredited qualification, but is now only an “in-house”- qualification which we feel is critically important, but it is not accredited.

In the event of a serious charge, you need to be able to protect the lives of your guests – if absolutely necessary, you will be expected to shoot such an animal, which you can only do effectively and with confidence, when you are qualified for ARH.

Central to all trails guiding is the safety of your guests!