Mkuze Game Lodge
The continuous conflict between livestock farmers and predators resulted in the development of an exciting new course regarding predators. The course consists of training and educating personnel in the agricultural sector, livestock industry as well as farmers and their co-workers towards a better understanding about the behaviour patterns and biology of these various animals. Once equipped with the necessary knowledge about the predators they are trained on how to identify and implement the correct predation management strategies. This four day course is an AgriSETA accredited course initiated by the NWGA (National Woolgrowers Association of South Africa) to assist, guide and help farmers minimizing conflict with damage causing animals. Students that successfully complete the course are awarded a national certificate from the NWGA.
Finding the correct location to present this course was not easy because the amount of practical work that needs to be done require a specific environment. The surroundings must have a wide diversity of animals and wildlife where training and track identification of all different kinds of animals could be easily obtained. The variety of tracks from antelope to predator is vital. Adding to the specific need for this course was finding the correct venue which could accommodate twenty students easily as well as spacious conference facilities were the theoretical work and final examinations could take place.
Filtering through all the possible venues that indicated their willingness to assist with this course I finally decided on Mkuze Game Lodge in Pongola. This game reserve situated in the Northern parts of KZN was exactly what I was looking for.
Three courses consisting of four days each were presented to three different groups over a three week period. The four days included a lot of practical work, early mornings in nature followed by theoretical work in the conference room and then late afternoon we were back in nature. The presentation in the correct programming, handling and placement of trail cameras where much enjoyed by the students.
Practical work with the trail cameras.
The feedback and practical work with the trail cameras delivered some exiting pictures.
Concentrating on predators and the predation problems in South Africa students were trained how to identify the different predators causing problems amongst livestock farmers. Identification from killing and eating patterns as well as tracking the animals by means of their tracks was explained.
A student locating tracks
Upon identifying the specific predator, students must advise farmers about all the different control methods, starting with the non-lethal methods and then, if required proceed to lethal methods. Students were trained how to assist farmers on guarding and protecting their livestock through implementation of the correct control methods. Also concentrating on the proactive managing strategies protecting livestock and how to advise farmers to acquire the necessary skills to secure a profitable livestock farming business.
Mkuze game lodge also treated each group of students with a much appreciated game drive the last evening of each course.
The game drive
The course ended on the fourth day with the students writing their final exam. The papers were marked and the successful students passing their exam received their national certificate.
I want to thank Mkuze Game Lodge, especially the park manager Eduard Goosen as well as Tiny Major for a very successful three weeks, organizing and assisting me throughout the duration of the course. Many thanks to the kitchen staff for their fantastic food and excellent service. My time working at Mkuze and spending time with all the personnel from Mkuze was really a memorable journey, many thanks again and looking forward to the next time we meet.