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DANGEROUS GAME QUALIFICATIONS

Learners wanting to attain a FGASA Trails Guide Qualification in order to lead walking trails in dangerous game areas need to first attain the FGASA Back-Up Trails Guide and gain the required amount of experience in order to be awarded the FGASA Trails Guide (Lead) Qualification. 
 
The attainment of a FGASA Back-up and Trails Guide is directly linked to the attainment of the FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling certificate. The ARH certificate expires every two years and thus due to the link so does the FGASA Back-up and Trails Guide certificate expire.
If you do not carry a rifle for guiding purposes you will only be awarded the VPDA Certificate (which does not expire). All FGASA Back-up, Trails Guide and Advanced Trails guide certificates will have an expiry date based on when the ARH is due for renewal. A new certificate will only be issued once the ARH competency is up to date through a renewal assessment.


THE BACK-UP TRAILS GUIDE QUALIFICATION

The Back-up Trails Guide:
  • Is operating as a Back-up Trails site guide on foot in dangerous game areas.
  • May be operating as a competent guide on foot in a number of different sites as a Back-up Trails Guide. A site in this case usually refers to a particular Game or Nature reserve, National Park in which dangerous game occur.
  • Has previously attained a FGASA Nature Guiding qualification either as a Local Guide, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or one of the Tracker qualifications.
  • Has the minimum required experience on foot in dangerous game areas for the Back-up Trails Guide qualification.
  • Has the basic knowledge considered essential to register and legally conduct a guided nature experience on foot in dangerous game areas as a FGASA Back-up Trails guide.
  • Has been declared competent against the requirements of the FGASA Back-up Trails Guide theoretical and practical assessment.
  • Has a valid, up-to-date recognised First Aid certificate.
  • Has the required SASSETA certificates and the required FGASA Advanced Rifle Handling qualifications if the guide makes use of a rifle while guiding.
The Back-up Trails Guide learner goes through a theory assessment (The FGASA Trails Guide Theory examination) and a practical (View potentially dangerous animals) assessment for the Back-up Trails Guide certificate. This excludes the rifle handling practical assessment for guides who will be making use of a rifle when conducting guided experiences.

Entry requirements for the Trails Guide theory examination: The writing of the Trails Guide theory examination does not depend on dangerous game guiding experience however you need to have either: a FGASA Local Guide, or a full FGASA Level 1(NQF2 Nature guiding skills programme), FGASA Level 2 or Level 3 or a Tracker qualification.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BACK-UP TRAILS GUIDE PRACTICAL ASSESSMENT:

To be eligible to apply to be practically assessed for the FGASA Back-up Trails Guide Qualification you must have:
  • Been declared competent (passed) for the FGASA Trails Guide theory examination
  • Gained and logged the required active guiding experience
Experience required for you to attain the FGASA Back-up Trails Guide Certificate:
  • At least 10 encounters (minimum 50 hours) on foot as either lead guide or back-up accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS (Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide/trainer/assessor.
  • The 10 encounters on foot for the Back-up Trails Guide can be attained in an area where at least 2 (two) of the Big 5 Dangerous animals exist.
  • During any Trails Guide training course, 5 of the 10 encounters can be logged as a mentored participant while the other 5 encounters need to be logged as a “lead guide” under training. Keep in mind that the guide at this stage of training cannot lead a walk to view potentially dangerous animals if s/he is not accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS(Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide.
A Back-Up Trails Guide can operate as a normal vehicle guide for a lodge or company and work as a Back-up to a more experienced qualified Trails Guide for the duration of walks in an area that has at least two of the Big 5 dangerous animal species.
 
The length of time required and experience as a Back-up Trails Guide to attain the Full Trails Guide qualification is at least 100 hours (50 encounters) with a qualified FGASA lead guide.
This experience must be logged and verified in the Back-Up Trails Guide‟s Dangerous Game logbook (Provided by FGASA). Once the set required experience has been attained and verified by FGASA then you will be eligible for the Trails Guide (lead) practical assessment.
 
This will ensure that lodges and companies employing Back-up Trails Guides know that these guides need to work as back-ups on walks until such time as they have attained the required experience.

Only once the FGASA certificate for Trails Guide (Lead guide) has been issued will these lodges and companies be able to employ (or promote) the guide as a Trails Guide (Lead) who is then fully qualified to lead these experiences.

Logbook: Your dangerous game encounters (as per the FGASA definition of an encounter) as a Back-Up Trails Guide must be recorded in the FGASA Dangerous Game Logbook.
 
Your other guiding experience (non-dangerous game encounters) should be recorded in the Green FGASA Field Guiding Logbook. If you are joining FGASA and you have already gained a certain amount of dangerous game guiding experience, you can backdate your DG logbook with this experience. This guiding experience must be verified and signed by your previous employer(s). Reference letters may be sent with your logbook to the FGASA Johannesburg office. (Refer to the description in the FGASA Dangerous Game Logbook as to what is required).

Application and payment: If you have fulfilled all the FGASA entry requirements for the Trails Guide theory examination, you will need to send your examination application form and proof of payment for the Trials Guide theory examination to the FGASA Johannesburg office. Remember that examination applications close 1 month before the set national examination sitting.

THE PRACTICAL ASSESSMENT

Before you can be practically assessed for FGASA Back-up / Trails Guide / Advanced Trails Guide qualifications you will need to have fulfilled all these criteria (as mentioned above) and your Dangerous Game Logbook verified by FGASA and once your logbook experience has been approved you will be eligible to be practically assessed.

The practical evaluation for the Back-up Trails Guide and the Trails Guide Qualification is carried out by a registered FGASA Assessor in a dangerous game guiding area of your choice. You will need to take the assessor on a guided walking experience in a dangerous game area to view potentially dangerous animals. (This area must have at least two of the Big five dangerous animal categories)
 
The practical Assessment will be explained to you in detail by your assessor in the pre-assessment brief. The assessor will make sure that you know what you will be assessed on so you may prepare yourself for this assessment. (Refer to the Trails Guide Learner Support Pack for details)
 
Payment for your practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via the FGASA office.

Once you have been declared competent for the Back-up Trails Guide practical assessment you will have attained the FGASA Back-Up Trails Guide Qualification.

You may then be awarded the Back-Up Trails Guide Certificate from FGASA.

DANGEROUS GAME ENCOUNTERS

Prior to the practical assessment the guide must log at least:

  •  10 encounters on foot as either lead guide or back-up accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS (Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide / trainer / assessor. These approaches can include animals from any of the following categories, but preferably as many categories as possible:
    • Elephant bull
    • Elephant breeding herd
    • Buffalo bull
    • Buffalo breeding herd
    • Lion & leopard
    • White & black rhino
    • Hippopotamus
An encounter is one of the following:
A deliberate walk to a dangerous animal or group of animals with the intention to view it on foot without disturbing it in any way. Thus approach, view and withdraw without the animals becoming aware of your presence, or show any sign that they are aware of any disturbance.

  • A deliberate walk to a dangerous animal or group of animals with the intention to view it on foot without disturbing it in any way, but due to guide or guest error, or changing environmental factors the animal or animals do become aware of the approaching human/s.
  • An unintentional contact during a walk. This will not necessarily be a good sighting, and might last only a second or two.
  • An explanation is given for a potential dangerous animal encounter based on an accurate observation and thus a potentially dangerous encounter is avoided. An example of this type of encounter is if a guide comes across the tracks of a lioness with cubs, the guide is able to point out and describe the tracks and give an explanation for why they will not follow these tracks, as it may lead to an extremely dangerous encounter which may be negative for the lions, the guide and the clients. This type of encounter must be recorded in the logbook.
The encounters (on foot) must be in the presence of a mentor / Trails Guide / SKS (Dangerous Animals or Dangerous Game) guide.

 

 


FGASA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE RECORDING OF EXPERIENCE FOR TRAILS GUIDE

The experience on foot required for Trails Guide cannot be carried out by driving a vehicle to a potentially dangerous animal (Big 5 species) and then getting out of the vehicle to approach this particular animal on foot.

The logged experience required must include walking without initially knowing the exact location of a Big 5 dangerous animal, possibly tracking of the animal in question, approaching the animal taking into consideration all the environmental and client factors with safety in mind at all times. View the animal and move away leaving the animal as it was found. Obviously if circumstances change and the animal becomes aware of the approaching humans then the required action should be taken to ensure the safety of all.
 
The point being made here, is that the learner can log guiding experience on foot in dangerous game areas (encounters – as per the FGASA definition of an encounter) carried out in the same manner as the guided experience would be assessed, i.e. as per the previous paragraph and cannot be done by driving up to the animal, getting out of the vehicle, approaching the animal on foot and then recording this as walking experience.
 
This form of experience will not be accepted by FGASA for viewing potentially dangerous animals on foot experience, as this is considered to be a vehicle approach.
The experience criteria for eligibility to start the process of attaining the Trails guide qualification, is at least 10 encounters on foot. As a guide you must not confuse these two categories by trying to combine them.

WHAT LEARNING MATERIALS DO I NEED FOR THE BACK-UP AND TRAILS GUIDE QUALIFICATION?

  1. The Trails Guide Manual – Grant Hine
  2. The FGASA Trails Guide Learner Support Pack and Workbook
  3. The Rifle Handling Manual – Grant Hine
  4. A photographic guide to Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa – L. Liebenberg
Recommended:  
  • DVD – Africa’s Dangerous Game on Foot
  • DVD Set - Preparing yourself for stopping the charge

 
 


THE TRAILS GUIDE QUALIFICATION

The Trails guide:
  • Is operating as a Trails (Lead) site guide on foot in dangerous game areas.
  • May be operating as a competent guide on foot in a number of different sites as a Trails Guide (Lead). A site in this case usually refers to a particular Game or Nature reserve, National Park in which dangerous animals occur.
  • Has previously attained a FGASA Nature Guiding qualification at either Local Guide, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or one of the Tracker qualifications.
  • Has the minimum required experience in dangerous game areas (At least 2 of the big 5) for the Trails Guide Qualification.
  • Has the basic knowledge considered essential to register and legally conduct a guided nature experience on foot in dangerous game areas as a FGASA Trails guide.
  • Has been declared competent against the requirements of both the FGASA Back-up Trails guide and the Trails Guide theoretical and practical assessment.
  • Has a valid, up-to-date recognised First Aid certificate.
  • Has the required SASSETA Certificate of competence and the required FGASA Advanced rifle handling qualifications if he/she is going to carry a rifle when conducting guided experiences.
Experience required for a guide to attain the FGASA Trails Guide Certificate

  • A Back-Up Trails Guide can operate as a normal vehicle guide for a lodge or company and work as a Back-up guide to a more experienced qualified Trails Guide for the duration of walks in an area that has any of the Big 5 dangerous animal species.
  • The experience required for a Back-up guide to be awarded the FGASA Trails Guide Certificate is to have logged guided experiences with any two categories of Big 5 animals.
  • The length of time required and experience as a Back-up Trails Guide to attain the Full Trails Guide is at least 100 hours (50 encounters) with a qualified FGASA lead guide.
  • Your logbook must be sent to the FGASA Johannesburg office for verification of your guiding experience. You will have to undergo another practical assessment as a Lead Trails Guide before this qualification can be awarded.
  • The practical Assessment will be explained to you in detail by your assessor in the pre-assessment brief. The assessor will make sure that you know what you will be assessed on in order that you can prepare yourself for this assessment. Payment for your practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come to the FGASA office.
The Practical Assessment for the Trails Guide (Lead guide)
There is no further theory examination for the Trails Guide (Lead) qualification, only another practical assessment operating as a lead guide. Only once you have been declared competent for the Trails Guide practical assessment (a second practical) will you be awarded the full FGASA Trails Guide qualification. This practical assessment can take place in any reserve that has any two of the big 5 dangerous animals.


 
 

 

 


ADVANCED TRAILS GUIDE QUALIFICATION

This guide:
  • Is operating as a Trails (Lead) site guide on foot in dangerous game areas.
  • May be operating as a competent guide on foot in a number of different sites as a Trails Guide (Lead). A Site in this case usually refers to a particular Game or Nature reserve, National Park in which dangerous animals occur.
  • Has previously attained a FGASA Nature Guiding qualification at either Local Guide, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or one of the Tracker qualifications.
  • Has the minimum required experience in dangerous game areas (all of the big 5) for the Advanced Trails Guide Qualification.
  • Has the basic knowledge considered essential to register and legally conduct a guided nature experience on foot in dangerous game areas as a FGASA Advanced Trails Guide.
  • Has been declared competent against the requirements of both the FGASA Back-up Trails guide and the Trails Guide theoretical and practical assessment.
  • Has a valid, up-to-date recognised First Aid certificate.
  • Has the required SASSETA Certificate of competence and the required FGASA Advanced rifle handling qualifications if he/she is going to carry a rifle when conducting guided experiences.
Experience required for a guide to attain the FGASA Advanced Trails Guide Certificate
  • A Back-Up Trails Guide can operate as a normal vehicle guide for a lodge or company and work as a Back-up guide to a more experienced qualified Trails Guide for the duration of walks in an area that has any of the Big 5 dangerous animal species.
  • The experience required for a Back-up or a Trails Guide to be awarded the FGASA Advanced Trails Guide Certificate is to have logged guided experiences with all categories of Big 5 animals. This experience can be gained in different reserves.
  • The length of time required and experience as a Back-up Trails Guide to attain the Advanced Trails Guide qualifications is at least 100 hours (50 encounters) with a qualified FGASA lead guide.
  • Your logbook must be sent to the FGASA Johannesburg office for verification of your guiding experience. You will have to undergo another practical assessment as a Lead Trails Guide before this qualification can be awarded.
No Practical Assessment for the Advanced Trails Guide
If you have already gone through a practical assessment for the Trails Guide you will not have to go through a practical for the Advanced Trails Guide – proof of experience with all categories of dangerous game will have to be provided before this certificate is issued.
If however you have not yet been practically assessed as a Lead Guide and want to be assessed for the Advanced Trails Guide then the Practical Assessment for the Advanced Trails Guide (Lead Guide) must be carried out on encounters with all categories of dangerous animals. The assessment can take place on more than one reserve.


SKS (DANGEROUS GAME) QUALIFICATION

The new Special Knowledge and Skills qualification for specialist guides operating in areas with Dangerous animals is now known as Special Knowledge and Skills Dangerous Game [SKS(DG)] which differentiates it from the previously attained SKS(DA) qualification.
This differentiation is important given the new criteria required of a guide to qualify for the new SKS(DG) as compared to the old criteria for the SKS(DA).
Existing SKS(DA) guides were given a time period in which to convert from the old SKS(DA) to the new SKS(DG) for those guides who already conformed to the new criteria. Those guides who did not convert during this time frame will have to go through the whole process (theory and practical) to attain the new SKS(DG) qualification.
This guide:
 

  • Is operating as a professional (Lead) site guide on foot in dangerous game areas.
  • Is a professional walking guide who is able to conduct advanced guided walking activities/safaris in any African dangerous game areas that s/he may or may not be familiar with.
  • May be operating as a competent professional guide on foot in a number of different dangerous game sites. A Site in this case usually refers to a particular Game or Nature reserve or National Park in which dangerous game occur.
  • Has previously attained a FGASA Nature Guiding qualification at Level 3 and has previously attained the FGASA Advanced Trails Guide qualification.
  • Has the minimum required experience in dangerous game areas for the SKS(Dangerous game) qualification.
  • Has advanced knowledge considered essential to register and legally conduct an advanced guided nature experience on foot in dangerous game areas as a FGASA SKS(DG) guide.
  • Has been declared competent against the SKS(Dangerous Game) theoretical assessments and the practical assessments.
  • Has a valid, up-to-date recognised First Aid certificate with a Wilderness component.
  • Has the required SASSETA and FGASA Advanced SKS(DG) rifle handling certificates.
The SKS(Dangerous Game) guide will:
 

  • be safe at all times
  • be knowledgeable on all aspects of the area (fauna and flora, ecology, geology, astronomy, history, etc.)
  • be completely proficient in handling his/her rifle (ARH and SKS Advanced rifle handling qualification)
  • have advanced navigation and orientation skills (maps, compass & GPS)
  • be fit enough to carry out a long walk/hike – 20kms plus
  • have knowledge of First Aid to be able to deal with any eventuality that arises while on a walking activity in a remote area
  • have above average observational skills
  • be able to handle any situation that arises with confidence and safety (Dangerous animal specific)


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