- Africa Nature Training
The Newsletter of Africa Nature Training (ANT)
FROM THE ANT HILL…
Greetings from a very busy ANT
team! Our year has been full of
wonderful achievements thus far
In this edition of Mantengu, we’ll update you
on what’s been happening at ANT in terms
Correspondence Course Practical, FGASA
level 1, Trails Guide and Advanced Rifle
We’ve chosen to commemorate our tenth
anniversary by publishing a photo book. To
that end, we ran a monthly wildlife
photography competition this year. We’ll
publish the winning and highly commended
images in this book, which will be made
available for sale early next year. The
overall winning images in each category are
displayed in this issue.
Shooting from the Hip is full of tips about
what camera settings to use.
Finally, our Bush Buzz feature this month
talks about a behaviour known as
Grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and
relax for the next few minutes - enjoy
2013 calendar: For a list of what is
happening during 2013 please refer to
the home page of our website
click on ‘2013 Events Calendar’.
Free Information Evening
~ Paulshof, Johannesburg ~
20 November 2012 @ 18:30
Are you a nature lover?
Looking for something new to do next
Want to meet like-minded people
whilst doing something that combines
an element of challenge with tons of
For the benefit of first time
readers, this is the ‘Rolls Royce’
of our education programmes. It is run on a
part time basis and caters for the bush
enthusiast as well as the prospective field
guide. The course is fully accredited by the
Field Guides Association of Southern Africa
and further endorsed by the Endangered
Wildlife Trust and BirdLife South Africa.
What a whirlwind year it has been and
thoroughly enjoyed by everyone! We’d like
to thank all of you for persevering through
to the end even when our scheduling made
things tough (we’ve learnt for next year).
The leopard, catching its breath after capturing its quarry…
Undoubtedly one of the highlights was the
mammals practical, which was held at our
trails camp in the Sabi Sands Private Game
Reserve - a place teeming with wildlife.
Andre van Zyl tells the group a bit about elephant dentition.
What a privilege to be able to explore this Big Five area on
Carla Bruin reflects back on the distant past.
Denise Maiden captured this incredible picture of a leopard
leaping out of the bush – can you see it? The image caused a
bit of a stir on our Facebook page
Congratulations to the Flying Ants, who were awarded the
floating trophy for the overall best potjie!
Riana Naven and Merlin Smith were both
awarded the Sylvia Henderson Memorial
trophy for ‘Most Improved Birder’. Simon
Bos is to be congratulated for conducting
the best practical walk – well done! Laurie
Moult received the ‘Spirit of ANT’ award.
We’d like to congratulate our ‘Class of 2012’
who finished their year with us in fabulous
style – thank you all for being a wonderful
Graduation evening was a fitting end to an amazing year
Congratulations to the NEC top
achiever of 2012, Geraldine Massyn,
who earned 1st place with an overall
average of 93%
Jane Golding was second overall. Jenni
Blenkinsop took third place - well done
…another clean sweep for the ladies!
What our students said:
Your best moment
Too much to mention, the whole year was
one big “best moment!”
What made the course special for you?
Met the most amazing people and that
includes our subject leaders/ANT mentors,
people that truly went the extra mile to
make this a life changing experience!
Gaining a better understanding of how
everything fits together, and the work
throughout the year culminates into a bigger
I for one thought I was quite a ‘nature
enthusiast’ before I even started the course
(in comparison to people I know); but there
is so much to learn and so much to
experience. And the course has humbled me
because I haven’t even touched the tip of
the iceberg yet. And it has encouraged me
to explore new opportunities to gain
Bernadette de Souza (‘Madge’) receives her certificate from
the Operations Director of FGASA, Nicolette van Brakel
Hard to say: enjoyed the whole course much
more than expected. Excellent course
content, well presented, most helpful
Trainers and ANT management, and great
fellow students. Sabi Sands was a highlight.
Any parting comments (good and/or bad)
I would recommend the course highly to
anyone looking for an exciting year of
challenge, lots of fun and enhancing their
knowledge of the wonder of nature.
My advice to anyone who is considering
doing the course...“If in doubt, JUST DO IT!”
You will not regret registering for this ANT
Always plenty of time to play…a couple of PirANTs
(Chris and Tony) here with a very young recruit!
Next year, the course starts on 6th February
and concludes on 16th October. We have
limited space available and invite you to
attend our free information evening on
20th November. This provides you with an
opportunity to find out what the course
entails, ask questions and meet our
dedicated training team.
For the benefit of first time
readers, this is the alternative to
our flagship Nature Enthusiast Course for
Johannesburg. It caters for the bush
enthusiast as well as the prospective field
guide and has the same accreditations and
endorsements as the NEC.
We are very excited to
longawaited overhaul of this
course! Over the next
few months we aim to
make improvements to
the way in which it is run
as well as to make it more interactive
through the use of social media so, current
students, watch this space!
PRACTICAL: SEPTEMBER 2012
Course Practical took place at the
end of September.
Whilst it was hard work, everyone seemed to
take it in their stride – learnt a lot and had a
huge amount of fun! We were grateful to
welcome students from Cape Town, KZN,
Eastern Cape and as far afield as England,
Switzerland and Qatar
Wonderful shot taken by Tim Driman – can you identify this
One of our students had the following to say
about his experience:
It was an absolute pleasure doing this course
through ANT. From the onset the
communication was very friendly and
professional and the study material of a very
high standard and well put together and
very interesting - no wonder ANT is
recommended by FGASA.
The practical was excellent and I’ve learned
a lot. The type of lectures and the way it
was presented were amazing and eye
Coming from the mining sector, first aid
isn’t one of my favourites (boring) but the
way it was presented on this course was very
good and I now actually remember all of it.
With all those jackets it couldn’t possibly be spring!
Simon kept us all entertained…everyone
reckoned he could definitely change careers
to ‘stand-up comedian’ if he wanted to!
The rest of the lectures were of very high
quality and very interactive, making it
exciting and very easy to remember it all.
Lorraine, Dave, Jan, Servaas and Andre are
fountains of nature information and really
lifted the curtain on the natural
A guiding experience is made easy by animal
sightings especially one of the “Big 5” and
most of such sightings speak for themselves
but ANT teaches one much more than that.
There is so much more going on out there
which we are often oblivious to and which
plays a much bigger role that what we are
aware of and on this course this was exposed
and it created a much better understanding
of the natural environment and how it
On this course we learned the true basics of
nature guiding and what actual big roles the
seemingly small and unimportant things in
nature play. What an eye opener of an
The camp setup was excellent and well laid
out and very practical, creating a true
camping experience. As a camper, it quickly
felt like home, especially with the excellent
food that we were served.
The ANT training camp and the beautiful
area where it’s situated quickly grows on
you - it was a real battle for my emotions
not to get the better of me during our
Thanks Lorraine and the rest of the ANT
team and its volunteers, it’s an experience
that I will never forget!
It was very exciting to watch this leopard strolling boldly
down a dry riverbed.
FGASA LEVEL 1: SEPTEMBER NOVEMBER 2012
Our FGASA Level 1 course is
specially designed for the
prospective field guide and takes place over
sixty days. We run our practical from a
fantastic venue within the Sabi Sands
Private Game Reserve, next to the Kruger
We have made a few exciting changes to the
format of our course which will come into
effect next year. More about this in our next
A breeding herd of elephants regularly visited the
camp, as Oliver will be able to tell you in detail!!
The regular visitors like the spotted hyena,
side-striped jackal, elephant and honey
badger (ed. ratel) made it really exciting,
especially when only a piece of canvas
separates you from their nocturnal activities
with the occasional lion roars in the
background, what a thrill!
‘Men at Work’? Not! Ian, Alex and Arnout, chilled!
One of the top tips that came from the last
one (thanks Christian!) was that you should
keep a stash of blister plasters just in case…
We would like to take this opportunity
to congratulate Garth Saunders,
Christian Sperka, Ross Hawkins and
Craig Fitt for obtaining their back-up
trails guide qualification…it’s definitely
no ‘walk in the park’- well done
Hot off the press - our current crew on a game drive
The next FGASA level 1 course starts on
2nd April 2013. For further information
and bookings please contact us on
012 667 5440 or e-mail:
SESSIONS – AKA: WALK IN THE
These are opportunities for trainee trails
guides to log encounters with dangerous
game on foot under the guidance of a
mentor. We also open up a few places for
‘guests’ – people who don’t want to qualify
as a trails guide but who just enjoy walking
in the bush. The presence of guests on the
walks enhances the training experience.
We have held five of these contact sessions
during 2012. On average, a student can
expect to log between ten and fifteen
encounters and forty hours during one full
session (a week).
This is an essential part of the
trails guide qualification - a
trails guide needs to be able to confidently
use a .375 calibre rifle under very tricky
circumstances in the event that a charging
(aggressive) animal threatens the safety of
We’ll say it again - this is one of the
toughest rifle courses anyone could wish to
attend. The majority of our most recent
group of students must be congratulated on
passing the stringent assessment – well
done, we are very proud of you!
Congratulations to Christian Sperka,
Masia Kusina-Doran, Johann de Klerk and
Henry Woest for obtaining their FGASA
Advanced Rifle Handling certificate!
ANT will be referring all ARH training to our
instructor, Servaas Hofmeyr during 2013, so
there will not be any pre-planned dates
scheduled for these courses.
Ross takes charge during an elephant encounter
Category: African Landscape
Title: Zebra Crossing
We’d like to thank everyone
who submitted entries – we really
appreciate you sharing your skills with us!
We’re aware that some of our students felt
a bit inadequate competing against
professional photographers…and thank you
all the more for persisting! See below for
the winning images and congratulations to
Francois Retief, Anne Flood, Gary Hughes
(Moonstone Pictures) and Sandra RonigerHughes (Moonstone Pictures) for these
Title: Assassin bug and flower
Title: Mating lions
Title: Leap into life
SHOOTING FROM THE HIP
Chris Martin’s tips for Wildlife
Photographers - taken from his
Africa Geographic blog.
Probably the single question I’m asked most
by people keen to improve their
photography is, “How do I move on from
using the Program or Auto mode on my
camera - what settings should I use?”
Wildlife photography is a challenging branch
of photography that can test your skills to
the limit and often in very difficult lighting
conditions etc. So what is the magic
exposure formula to getting those razor
sharp images that can stand out on the
pages of Africa Geographic?
It seems everyone has an opinion and, in
photographer new to the world of a Digital
SLR it can be very intimidating. I’m asked
the question countless times and I feel the
frustration of new photographers who
believe there is one specific mode that
satisfies all occasions. Afraid not, but that
doesn’t mean it’s going to get complicated all you need is to apply a bit of foresight
about what image effect you are trying to
produce and the ‘behaviour’ of your subject
matter, and you’ve nailed it!!
So how do I approach my own photography?
Getting into a good frame of mind and
thinking about the image you want to create
is a great first base.
First off, I set my ISO to account for the
available light…these days cameras are more
than capable of operating with very little
loss of quality at incredibly high ISO
settings, therefore I rarely shoot on less
than ISO 800 when doing general wildlife
For static landscapes and macro I shoot
much lower, say ISO 100 - but this will
increase the requirement to use a tripod as
the shutter speed will reduce considerably
at these settings, making hand-held
operation almost impossible.
Generally, I like to control the level of
background blur (Depth of Field) in my
images so Aperture Priority is the way to go.
© Chris Martin
In the image above (of the Chobe elephants
in Botswana), what was key to the image
(after getting the grouping of the elephants
correct) was ensuring sufficient Depth of
Field so that the background would remain
in focus, yielding a nice sharp image from
the front to the back of the picture.
In circumstances where freezing action is
required, particularly with birds in flight,
Shutter Priority is selected to ensure the
camera adopts fast enough shutter speed to
render the image razor sharp. The Fish Eagle
image was shot from ground level on the
Biyamiti River in the Kruger National Park.
© Chris Martin
The critical element here was freezing
motion, both with the bird in flight and also
the effect on the water droplets. I used a
shutter speed here of 1/1600th sec and an
aperture setting of f4.5, hence the blurred
background in the image.
So what about that Program or Auto mode?
Is it really as taboo as many people make
out? Well in essence there’s nothing wrong
with it at all. It is often the mode most
beginners start with and many stick with it.
In fact, I know a good few professional
wildlife photographers who use it whenever
they can and many of you will have their
books on your shelves at home!!
But there is no way it can do the best job
possible in every situation. My cameras have
a ‘flexible’ Program mode that allows me to
override the camera’s choice of aperture
and shutter speed before shooting. In
essence I can vary the effect on the depth of
field (changing aperture) or motion
sharpness (changing shutter speed), but the
camera remains constant in the level of
exposure applied to the image. If you push
the shutter speed up one stop faster, it will
automatically compensate by opening up the
aperture one stop to keep the exposure the
same. You know, some folk believe there is
a stigma attached to using Program Mode
since its use gives so much control to the
© Chris Martin
My view is that it’s ‘part of your tool bag’.
Knowing when to use it, and also knowing
when to take control of the camera yourself
and thus understanding the dynamic
between aperture, shutter speed and ISO
setting, is a technical aspect of photography
that is worth spending some time
experimenting with, and gaining a better
understanding on. You will expand your
creativity immensely and your images will
improve beyond recognition.
There really is nothing wrong with Program
Mode. While it doesn’t provide as much
control as other exposure modes, that
control is only useful if you know how to use
it and have the time to do so.
Remember, if you’ve spent thousands on
your new digital camera, you’ve acquired a
machine with a very sophisticated metering
capability…so use it!! That’s exactly what
you are doing in Program, Aperture and
Shutter priority mode.
So where should you start? …. Well Shutter
Priority and Aperture Priority is the way to
go at first. Here you can dial in your
aperture setting and be sure that the
camera will select the right shutter speed
automatically, to give you a correctly
exposed image. It’s effectively a ‘semiautomatic’ function, giving you some control
but the camera is still working with you to
get the right quality result. Conversely, in
Shutter Priority, the reverse is true. You
pick the shutter speed to either freeze
motion or intentionally blur it, and the
camera will select an aperture to make the
exposure come out what it feels is correct.
Finally, we can’t overlook Manual Mode
which, for many experienced photographers,
is still the best way to get the desired
effect. However, in order to really succeed
in this mode you really have to have a good
surrounding aperture, shutter and ISO and
the inter-relationship between these three
These days with the benefits afforded to us
all in with digital cameras, we can still see
the effect in terms of under / over exposure
via the viewfinder or rear LCD display. So I
guess even Manual Mode has got a bit more
help from the advancement of camera
My advice is to get out, take images and
learn from your mistakes…but remember,
there are only prizes and plaudits for great
images…you get no prizes for the settings
you use!! So if you find an approach that
works for you, stick with it, understand its
limitations and then understand what you
need to do when your subject or lighting
conditions change. Now you have mastered
the use of exposure modes on your camera!
Written by Chris Martin
Chris Martin Wildlife Photography – and
current ANT team member
Chris Martin will be running our first
Wildlife Photography Course for field
guides from 15-17 December – see
‘Forthcoming Attractions’ for more…
WHY TWO FOOTPRINTS?
As seen in the photographs
below, there are two footprints/spoor
strategically placed one placed on top of
another…there is a very good reason for this.
These antelope register because they
inhabit dense vegetation (in the case of the
Sitatunga, marshy areas) and thus have
adapted their method of walking in order to
minimise noise and reduce predation.
Whilst on the move, they carefully observe
where they place their front foot so as not
to break twigs, branches and dried leaves
that could give away their presence.
As they move forward and lift their front
foot, they place their rear foot directly on
the same spot where the front foot was
previously placed – hence the two footprints
Kudu spoor (rear foot placed on top of the front foot)
The picture above shows the spoor of a kudu
(Tragelaphus strepsiceros) whilst the one
below is that of a Bushbuck (Tragelaphus
Male Sitatunga, scratching himself
In the case of the Sitatunga, their front feet
are used to test the firmness of the ground
before taking another step. Having found
terra firma, it then makes perfect sense to
put your back foot in the same spot
Bushbuck spoor (much smaller – note again the
placement of the rear foot on top of the front foot)
Written by Andre van Zyl
General Manager Safaris
Kudu, Bushbuck, Nyala and Sitatunga all
belong to the same Genus Tragelaphus antelope that have spiralled horns.
Very often the tracks left behind by these
antelope exhibit this arrangement as the
result of a behaviour called ‘registering’.
TRAILS GUIDE CONTACT SESSIONS
A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
FREE INFORMATION EVENING: TUESDAY
20 NOVEMBER 2012
If you’re considering doing our Nature
Enthusiast Course - or perhaps you’re
thinking of giving it as a special gift to
someone - why not attend our free
information evening on the 20th of
Join us in the Sabi Sands Private Game
Reserve for the experience of a
lifetime, walking in one of the most
spectacularly game-rich areas within
11th – 17th February 2013
15th – 21st March 2013
8th – 14th July 2013
8th – 14th August 2013
5 – 11th September 2013
Venue: Paulshof, Johannesburg
(directions upon RSVP)
Cost: about an hour of your time
WE INVITE YOU TO FIND OUT ABOUT
OUR EXCITING NATURE ENTHUSIAST
COURSE, DURING WHICH YOU CAN
THE YEAR OF A LIFETIME!
This is an opportunity not to be missed!
Note: it is essential to RSVP for catering
purposes – please contact Nicky:
Contact us to make your booking on
+27 12 667 5440 or e-mail
[email protected] to
request an information pack.
FGASA LEVEL 1: 2nd April – 2nd June 2013
NEW – WORK EXPERIENCE!
This course offers the successful graduate
a FGASA level 1 qualification - the basic
entry requirement for individuals wishing
to pursue a career in field guiding.
We have now incorporated two weeks of
work experience at a five star lodge
which vastly increases your chances of
getting a job once our course is over!
NEW: Don’t miss this exclusive
opportunity for six people to learn
firsthand from Chris Martin how to
improve their Wildlife Photography at
our trails camp in the Sabi Sands:
15 – 17 December ~ cost: R 3,850 p/p
If you are serious about field guiding
then this course is for you
We would like to take this
sponsors for their generosity and ongoing
The management of Africa
Nature Training would once
opportunity to thank all of our loyal
customers for your ongoing patronage.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve - for
sponsoring the top student prize for the
Nature Enthusiast Course.
We would also like to thank the ANT
Training Team for all their hard work and
continued support. We are very aware that
each person has their part to play in the
company’s success and ‘the whole’ is
definitely greater than the sum of its parts –
THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
As always, our aim of promoting
environmental awareness through the
sharing of knowledge, together with
fostering a love and respect for nature
through the building of relationships with
people who care as we do, is unwavering
Bryan Peirce of Adventures With Nature
Books - for sponsoring prizes at our
“In the end we conserve only that
we love only that which we
which we love,
we understand only that which we are
Chris Martin and Christopher Perrett thanks very much for judging our wildlife
photography competition – always a tough
Baba Dioum (Senegalese Ecologist)
AFRICA NATURE TRAINING
(FGASA accredited training
Phone: 012 667 5440
086 610 4899
Simon McDonnell of Clik Elite SA - we are
very grateful to you for sponsoring the prizes
for our Wildlife Photography competition
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