Girls’ Guide to Guiding pt.2
So as everybody is aware; it’s tough to be a female in the bush, let alone a female ranger. The things we have to deal with become twice as hard when you are a woman for the simple fact that you have to prove that you can be just as good, if not better, than all those men out there waiting for you to mess up. This week has definitely been a test on my ranging skills and I have to say to all those doubtful people out there, I think I have proven that I have what it takes to be a rugged ranger whilst maintaining femininity, class and poise. Ok, so maybe not so rugged but definitely hardcore! I have had an amazing week of animal encounters and I could not be more proud of having made a home out of this beautiful bush environment.
Young impala, warthogs and nyala have been bouncing out of every corner and with the new growth of luscious green vegetation, game have been spilling out from there winter hiding spots to enjoy the nutritious shoots. Not only have we been lucky enough to enjoy viewings of all big 5, including some unforgettable moments with leopards, but we have also seen caracal, rare bird species such as the osprey, as well as a night adder and a puff adder.
One thing which I have certainly learnt is that a woman MUST be able to drive in order to live in the bush. If you think you are a good driver now, do anything you can to become better; there is no such thing as a “bad women driver”. During this week, we had an encounter with an extremely grumpy elephant. As we sat and observed from about 50m away, a rather safe distance I would say… this male decided that he did not like us watching. He slowly approached the vehicle pushing out his ears in a dominance display. I casually spoke to the big guy in my calmest voice, telling him we were backing up slowly and that he had enough room to pass. The huge animal however continued to approach and as I realised he was not stopping, I shifted into reverse and put foot. Elephants are generally very easy to read and present much warning before a real charge. All rangers know that standing your ground when facing any angry animal is the best thing to do; “Whatever you do, don’t run,” is a common saying out in the bush. Although my decision may not have been protocol, my racing heart and pumping adrenaline told me otherwise. As the elephant continued to approach making sure we left his area, I continued to speak in my calmest voice even though I was terrified. Eventually the large bull tired of his game and slowly moved off the road continuing his feeding. We had succeeded. Just like people, all animals have individual personalities, experiences with humans and a unique sense of humour.
Animals do not read books and the only predictable trait about them is that they are unpredictable; they are wild and full of life relying on instinct and previous experiences. As humans entering in to their space we need to learn to respect that they are king in their jungle and it is up to us to ensure that every encounter we have with each individual is a positive one making them feel secure in their home. Women are strong beings able to face any tough situation, whether it be crying children, a friend in need, or a charging elephant, we are able to find a solution by keeping ourselves together. Ranger or not, women are the best guides because of their caring nature, positive attitude towards adversity, and amazing driving skills. Keep it up ladies, you are all amazing!