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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
Knowing the difference between a lion track and a cheetah's
As keen conservationists, Gary and Matt Franklin were looking for a wildlife trip with a difference – definitely not your average safari. What they got was two weeks crammed full of learning about wildlfe and a life changing experience on our Game Ranger Guide Course.
I have been on a two week life changing experience with my son Matt on an ACE Game Ranger Guide Course in South Africa, at the Mapungubwe Private Nature Reserve near the Botswana border, Pafuri River Camp & Porcupine Camp, both near Kruger National Park.
I was a little concerned that I may be too old for a course like this but quickly discovered that my concerns were not justified as I met up with my fellow “Game Rangers” who were all likeminded souls and have a love for wildlife and conservation.
Mapungubwe PNR is vast and beautiful, bordering the Limpopo River in northern South Africa and we eight students and our guides were the only people there. The wildlife is truly wild and every sighting and sound you here at night has a buzz about it. When we stayed at Pafuri and Porcupine camps we saw the amazing wildlife at Kruger, including baboons, warthogs, elephants, lion and buffalo and had the added bonus of visiting a reptile park and an endangered species park where we fed a chameleon, handled snakes and learnt a lot about a cheetah breeding and release programme.
The course has taught me so much in just two weeks and through game drives, game walks in the bush and informal classroom presentations I now know the difference between a lion track (lion spoor to us game rangers!) and a cheetahs (they have non-retractable claws), types of tree and what they can be used for, bird identification, the role of a Game Ranger in South Africa (including leading a game drive), the “follow me” sign of an Impala and a Warthog, navigation by the stars (sleeping out in the bush in just your sleeping bag is amazing!!) and so much more, and how it all links together.
Our hosts, Martin, Don, Gavin & Laurie, Brett and the rest of the ACE & Bundox team have so much knowledge about the bush and its wildlife and are all very happy to pass on their knowledge to us eager students.
The whole ACE experience leaves you wanting more! More of the opportunities ACE & Bundox offer, more of South Africa and more of sharing great times (we laughed so much) and once in a lifetime experiences (have you ever been mock charged by a parade of elephants at dusk!?), with great people.
Young or just young at heart this is the course for you and I will be back for more.
Gary Franklin, 50 Years Young