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Southern African Travel Guide

 
Field Guide Courses : FGASA
Travel Writer: EcoTravel Africa  
 

The field guide by definition, is a person that leads and guides people into the environment considered to be a natural area. The field guide may operate on foot (walking trails), from a vehicle (game drives), on horseback or in a boat or canoe, in natural areas including game reserves and national parks. These areas may consist of many different types of terrain, including riverine areas, mountains, savanna and coastline, encompassing many vegetation types within the Biomes of Southern Africa.

The field guide acts as a link between the natural surroundings and the clients, taking on an educational role. The field guide provides a learning experience in a manner that the individuals learn more from the environmental interaction in the company of the field guide than they would without the presence of the field guide.

The field guide course should provide a training experience by expert trainers and lecturers. The course syllabus should also be aligned with that of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) so that on successful completion of the course students are more than equipped to write the independent entry level FGASA examinations.

 
 
Photographer: EcoTravel Africa 

The field guide course syllabus should also aligned with the Unit Standards of the NQF Nature Site Guide Skills Programme.

Taxonomy -- The FGASA course content should inculde an introduction to the Linnaean method of naming and classification -- a field guide

Grasses -- The FGASA course content should cover both the basics of grass taxonomy and the process of identifying different grass species through their physical characteristics -- a field guide

Weather and Climate -- The FGASA course content should investigate the concepts of weather, climate and climatology -- a field guide

Astronomy -- The FGASA course content should explore the major features of the Universe (including galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way, black holes and nebulae ) -- a field guide

Trees -- The FGASA course content should cover both the basics of tree taxonomy and the methodology of identifying different tree species through their physical characteristics (leaves, bark, fruit, pods, flowers, spines, thorns, etc) -- a field guide

Ecology -- The FGASA course content should examine the origin of the term ‘Ecology’ and the definition of an ecosystem. Basic population dynamics, plant succession, the biomes of South Africa, and the impact on the environment of factors such as pollution are also covered -- a field guide

Arthropods -- The FGASA course content should examines the basics of the following Arthropod classes: Insecta, Arachnida, Chilopoda and Diplopoda -- a field guide

Geology and Geomorphology -- The FGASA course content should covers the basic fundamentals of the earth’s history, structure and tectonic processes -- a field guide

Amphibians -- The FGASA course content should examine the basics of the class Amphibia and at the elementary anatomy and morphology of organisms within this class and the means of utilizing such knowledge to identify, and differentiate between, common amphibians. Behaviour patterns, ecological roles, adaptations, etc are also covered -- a field guide

Reptiles -- The FGASA course content should examine the basics of the class Reptilia and at the elementary anatomy and morphology of organisms within this class and the means of utilizing such knowledge to identify, and differentiate between, common reptiles. Behaviour patterns, ecological roles, adaptations, etc are also covered. Venomous snakes and treatment protocols are dealt with -- a field guide

Mammals -- The FGASA course content should examine the classification of mammals both in relation to other vertebrates and within the class Mammalia. It covers basic anatomy and morphology and looks at the ways in which distinctive characteristics can be used to identify, and differentiate between, mammals in the field. Behaviour, ecological roles, etc of common Bushveld mammal species are discussed. The utilization of signs such as spoor, droppings, etc as a means of identifying mammals in the field is also covered -- a field guide

Bush Navigation and Orientation -- The FGASA course content should look at issues such as map interpretation and the means of orienting a map, map scales, grid references, map symbols, various methods of determining direction, the use of a compass (including taking bearings and back bearings) and ways of using the sun, moon, stars and other natural phenomena to determine direction. The planning and following of a route applying theoretical knowledge gained during lectures rounds off the subject -- a field guide

Birds -- The FGASA course content should cover the classification of birds both in relation to other vertebrates and within the class Aves nd basic anatomy and morphology and looks at the ways in which distinctive characteristics, and calls, can be used to identify, and differentiate between, birds in the field. Behaviour (including areas such as brood parasitism and migration), ecological roles, habitat selection and distribution are also dealt with -- a field guide

Signs of the Veld, Guiding and Practical Interpretation -- The FGASA course content should cover the identification and interpretation of field signs such as spoor, droppings, nests, habitat disturbances, etc as well as interesting facts related to common grasses, trees, mammals, birds, etc. and the ethics and mechanics of taking trails and the effective communication of the information discussed above such that clients experience a positive and informative bushveld experience.

Cultural Heritage -- The FGASA course content should cover the incredible range of human heritage emanating especially from the Witwatersrand region -- a field guide

Fish -- The FGASA course content should cover elementary anatomy and the ecological role of fish -- a field guide

Eco-tourism -- The FGASA course content should cover current conservation issues, provide a look to the future and stimulate discussion on how local communities can be drawn into the conservation arena -- a field guide

FGASA and THETA registered courses:

 

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