A few years ago we had a very unfortunate incident that was bound to happen one day.
The lodge where I was working at the time was in need of renovations and new rooms were being built on to accommodate more guests.
The lodge was far from any town and so the construction workers had to stay onsite for the project.
There was no proper accommodation for the workers, so they decided the next best place to sleep would be on the ground between the Land Rovers in the garage. By the way the garage had no doors.
Early one morning at about 5 am I was woken by the sound of someone shouting and screaming from panic and pain! The sound was coming from our staff village which was unfenced and regularly had visitors of the four-legged type. This time it was a spotted hyena that came wondering through the village in search of possible food.
The construction workers who were fast asleep were unaware of the approaching hyena, when all of a sudden the hyena, using her powerful jaws, grabbed one of the men by the leg. Instead of killing him she ran off dragging the poor man behind her across the village floor.
The unfortunate victim was now wide-awake as you can imagine and started shouting and kicking at the hyena in an attempt to escape. This was all too much for the hyena, so she let go her grip and instead of running away into the bush she made a bee-line back to the garage to try her luck with a different meal. The remaining three men in the garage who were also by this time wide awake and on high alert started shouting and franticly waving their hands to try and chase the hyena away.
Their attempt worked as she made a quick u-turn and headed off back into the bush.
The construction worker that was snatched by the hyena was very lucky to be alive but did suffer from deep puncture wounds to his leg, which he had treated by a doctor in case of possible infection.
The reality of this is that incidents of this nature happen all the time in Africa with many people being injured every year as well as numerous recorded deaths by Spotted hyenas.
For most people going on Safari it means doing a Game Drive or Bush-walk with their Game Ranger.
The word “Game Ranger” is often used incorrectly. A Game Ranger more correctly is a person that works very hands on in the environment doing either game capture, game counts, anti-poaching or environmental analysis and has very little to do with tourists.
A Field Guide on the other hand is more involved in the Tourism Industry. To be a Field Guide is an awesome, but it isn’t as glitzy and glamorous as everyone else thinks. You get to drive a 4x4 in the wild in pursuit of the “Big 5”, and what really makes it cool is you get to walk around with a big-ass rifle while looking for dangerous game like Lion and Elephant. You’re a “Hero” in your guests’ eyes.This is all great but there are a few cons that go along with this all.
During the Summer time you need to wake up very early (4:30) to go game drive, not so cool if you’re not a morning person.
At most Lodges you host your guests at dinner. You go to bed when all the guests have gone to bed. Some guests won’t go on the early morning drive and instead party the night away, so you join the party and then do the Game drive the next morning.
The telephone is the worst invention ever. At 1 o’clock in the morning you get a phone call from one of the guests: “There’s a frog in our bathroom”. So you get up, get dressed then go remove the killer frog from their bathroom.
At 2 o’clock in the morning, next phone call, “Can we have some more milk in our mini bar please” or “What time is the wake-up call tomorrow?”
You are a Jack of all trades. You’re a plumber specializing in fixing broken or blocked toilets. You fix air-conditioners or at least try to. You learn how to work quite well with a spade when you repair the dirt roads in the reserve. You’re a Barman and a waiter and sometimes the housekeeper. Last but not least, you’re also a receptionist.
So there’s a lot to do as a Field Guide other than Game Drives and Bush-walks. But at the end of the day the pros by far out-weigh the cons and to me if you love the wild, it’s the best career ever.